So the next day, we woke up somewhat early and headed out for the trek. It was freezing, windy, and rainy, and that rain soon turned into snow! But we were hiking in the middle of the Andes mountains, which was beautiful. So the first portion was only about 3 hours to the first campsite, el Campamiento Poincenot. We arrived there in the afternoon, still absolutely freezing, made some warm pasta, set up camp, and then got into our sleeping bags for about an hour to try to get warm again (because this was my first trek in Patagonia, I didn't realize how important it was to have the right clothing, not just any old layers). Eventually we got ourselves up and did a short hike to a nearby glacier, but couldn´t see much because it was so overcast, and the clouds sit really low there. The weather in southern Patagonia, especially in the mountains, is extremely unpredictable and is known for changing really frequently without any notice, therefore occasionally experiencing all four seasons in the same day... which we did some days. So we got back to the campsite totally exhausted, made some dinner, and then went to bed before
Bo, Matthew, and some other trekkers
this was on the first day of the trek right before it started snowing- they say you can experience all four seasons in the same day in Patagonia, which we definitely did
the sun had even set because we knew we would be waking up early the next morning for a sunrise hike.
The next morning, our friend we were trekking for the first day with, Matthew, who we were with had set his alarm for what he thought was 5 a.m. to hike up to the top of Cerro Fitz Roy. Forgetting that the clock on his phone was 1 hour fast, he actually woke us up at 4 a.m. So, not yet realizing this, we set out for the sunrise hike wondering why we were the only people at the campsite up and leaving because the sunrise hike is the reason people camp at that particular campsite just under the peak of Cerro Fitz Roy. So we hiked about an hour and a half in the pitch dark up the steep, rocky mountain tip with only Matthew's headlamp and mine when it decided to be functional. It was absolutely FREEZING, but we were constantly moving and figured by the time we reach the top and have to stop moving, the sun would be coming out and warming up the cold night air. But, we were wrong. We finally reached
Bo and me at the summit of Cerro Fitz Roy for sunrise
the reason for camping about an hour from the summit of Cerro Fitz Roy on the first night is so that you can easily hike up to the top to see the sun rise the next morning
the top when Matthew realized that he had woken us up an hour too early... so, it was about 6 a.m., with one hour left until the sun even begins to rise. We stood there absolutely freezing, our entire bodies numb, looking out from the mountain peak at the campsite where we saw lights just leaving for the hike up. So for that hour we did anything we could to keep our bodies warm: jumped around a bunch, jogged in circles, hiked back down 10 minutes to hike back up... etc. Unfortunately it didn't do much, so we still froze, but after about an hour, other people from the campsite started arriving at the top and the sun began to rise. The point of going up to the peak for sunrise is not only because it's really pretty, but also because if you get lucky and have a good day where the sky is really clear with just a few clouds over the rock towers at the top of the mountain, the sun will properly reflect from the clouds and cause the towers to glow a REALLY bright red. For the morning we went up, the sky was too clear
with no cloud for the light to reflect from. So we didn't get to see the towers turn red, which I had seen in many pictures from friends I had met while traveling and it is BEAUTIFUL, but we did see a really pretty sunrise. Oh, and it was Matthew's birthday!... pretty cool way to spend your birthday.
After the sun fully rose and we decided we had taken the view in enough and were done with being extremely cold, we headed back down to the campsite to make some oatmeal with dulce de leche (yum) for breakfast and pack up our camp. After, Bo and I headed out on a 7 hour trek to another campsite, El Campamento Torres. The day before, when we were freezing after walking in the snow, we thought about skipping the second night, but it was such a beautiful, clear, sunny day that we had the motivation to keep going. Within the first few hours of our trek, we passed by a beautiful lagoon and rested their for a while soaking in the warmth of the sun! We continued on about another 2 hours when we reached a nice little grass patch in
the sun on a fork in the path where we decided to rest again to make some pasta. We ate our lunch and then ended up napping with our heads on our backpacks for about a half hour before continuing on (the change in the weather was so nice, so we took every chance we could to stop and enjoy it...). After our nap we finished the hike over to the campsite next to a wide, running river and a huge glacial lake under the big, beautiful Glacier Torre, which sits against a mountain. At the campsite, we ran into 3 friends (Israelis... I forgot to add, that in the ARGENTINE national park, the signs at the campsites are written in Spanish, English, and Hebrew... haha) and set up our tent next to theirs. Bo and I decided to take a walk around the lake to get as close to the glacier as possible... the colors of the glaciers are so incredible- so bright and blue, especially with the powerful sunlight. We ended up sitting on the rocks around the lake for a half hour just staring in awe at the glacier and the surroundings... this is all set in
a valley in the middle of more mountains.
Eventually we headed back to the campsite, made pasta for dinner, which DID NOT turn out well at all- the gas we were using didn't boil water very well, so the pasta ended up really soggy, not properly cooked... we tried to cover the taste with tomato sauce and undercooked peas, but it jut made it worse. Eventually our 3 Israeli friends returned from sitting by the lake, and we started a game of cards and had some some boxed wine (a campers delight) from plastic cups and soup bowls to go along with it. We were having fun hanging out and really happy that the weather, unlike the day before, was warm enough to sit outside of the tent. Eventually the sun started to set causing the weather to get colder, so we all made some Crema de Choclo (cream of corn soup) and headed to bed. The sound of the river behind the campsite put me right to sleep.
The next morning, we woke up at around 8 a.m. having slept much better than the night before. We stepped outside the tent and realized it was pouring rain,
so we decided to skip breakfast and just pack up and head back to El Chalten because it was only a 3 hour walk back. By the way, packing up the tent in the rain is one of our least favorite activities because the next time you take the tent out to use it, it absolutely reeks of mildew. So we headed back to El Chalten in the rain feeling so lucky that the day before the weather was so perfect allowing us to get great views of all the best sights in Fitz Roy. Even though it was raining, the hike back was really pretty- through valleys, along rivers, over rivers, through fields along lagoons... really scenic. The only downside, was that by the time we made it back to the hostel in El Chalten, everything in our packs were completely soaked (meaning all of our clothes) because neither of us had a waterproof cover. We made a big breakfast when we arrived back at the hostel consisting of the left over oatmeal with bananas and dulce de leche and eggs and then caught the 1 p.m. bus back 3 hours to El Calafate.
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