Today was not only my last full day in El Chalten, but the last full day of my entire trip to Patagonia. Tomorrow, I begin the long travels back to the United States. I awoke early so that I could make the most of my day. I set off to wander the town and buy some snacks for my hike, and found a cute bakery and coffee shop. Most of the stores and restaurants hadn't opened yet, and similar to the 3rd day of my Torres del Paine trek, I relished the quiet and calm of the early morning. My hike today was titled Laguna de los Tres, and promised spectacular views of Mount Fitz Roy. I decided again to hike alone and soak up the last part of my solo adventure.Read More
Yesterday was my last day in El Calafate, which I was pretty happy about, since I felt like I had seen everything there was to see in the small town. I caught a 7:30 am bus from the terminal to El Chalten, known as the national capital of trekking. (I'm beginning to think that every town in Patagonia is known as "a paradise for hikers" of some sort.)
The bus ride was absolutely beautiful, and I kicked myself in the foot for not arriving earlier to the bus terminal to snag a better seat with a full window view. The road in front of us, winding straight into the mountains ahead, was a perfectly teasing preview of the scenery awaiting us in El Chalten..Read More
I barely slept last night. I think the anticipation of getting up for sunrise kept me up, and I last looked at my watch at 12:30 am, thinking "If I go to bed right at this second, I'll get 3 hours of sleep."
I woke up to my alarm at 3:20 am, crawled out of my bunk bed as quietly as possible, and quickly chugged the cold cup of coffee I had reserved from the day before. Already dressed in my clothes for the day, I grabbed my headlamp, jacket, small daypack with food and water, and trekking poles - ready and out the door within 5 minutes of waking.Read More
With two glasses of wine the previous night, I woke up on my fourth day from a deep, restful sleep. The sun was shining when I stepped outside of my dome tent, and had melted away the fog that yesterday had enshrouded the mountain beside us. I was really looking forward to today, as it was our penultimate day and we were approaching the prize of our multi-day trek: the famous Torres. The iconic Torres, three majestic standalone rock towers, have become the celebrity face of the Torres del Paine National Park and its treks. Many people visit the park on a day trip just to hike to the Torres.
After a quick breakfast (just cheese and bread), I set off before my camping friends to walk alone. "Alone" meaning without the intention of walking with anyone else, but as I had already learned over the past couple days, it's nearly impossible to be alone on the trail.Read More
I got up early this morning and left at 7 am, in hopes of meeting my friends at their campsite 7 kilometers away, so that I could hike with them the rest of the day. I was the first one to leave the refugio. Purchased breakfasT at the refugio isn't served until 7 am, and most people weren't attempting to go up the notoriously long and steep Valle de Frances pass (the middle part of the W), so this day for them was shorter.
This was the first and last time on the entire trek that I wouldn't see another person on the trail for more than 30 minutes. I thought I'd be nervous, but I really enjoyed the quiet and peace of walking alone, in the early morning's softer light. The wind was so strong that it was blowing water off the lakes, making it look like the water was evaporating. Despite the forceful wind, which I had to lean into in order to stay upright, all felt calm.
Since I knew today was going to be a short one, I let myself have a late start. Gillian and I left around 10 am. Even though we were just retracing our steps from Day 1, the hike felt completely different. Going the other direction definitely results in new perspective and views! Even views of the same mountains looked different because of the weather; today, the bright sun and eerie mist at the top made the mountain's rough rocky edges look even more dramatic.Read More
I'll start this post with a funny story. As many of my friends and previous roommates know, I am a frequent sleep talker. I've had the humorous affliction since I was younger; and while I've grown out of sleep walking, I'm still apparently quite chatty in the wee hours of the night. So, I should have known why the guys at the front desk and my bunkmates greeted me this morning and asked, with those unmistakeable inside-joke chuckles, if I had a good night. Apparently, last night, in my four-person hostel dorm, which shares a wall with the front desk, I cheered "Goal!!!!!" in my sleep and started laughing. While I have zero recollection of this, I'm guessing I was watching an exciting futbol match in my dream and my team scored? I'm not an avid sports fan but I guess I am very deeply aware, even in my subconscious, of the fact that I'm in South America! Needless to say, for the rest of my trip, I should probably make it a practice of warning the other travelers in my hostel dorms of my habit!Read More
As expected, I won't be able to blog about my journey every day, but I've been jotting my thoughts and experiences down in my journal to share later. Having left the urban metropolis of Buenos Aires, I now find myself with spotty Internet and phone connections, but luckily the surrounding landscape over here makes up for it!
On the second day of my trip (Dec 7), I flew into El Calafate, which is in the Patagonia region. I didn't expect much of the airport, but the cleanliness, modernity, and spectacular view of Lago Argentina on landing was an awesome welcome into the town.
For some reason, I imagined El Calafate to be a small town, with maybe 10 blocks of buildings; yes, a silly and unfounded idea. While the downtown was maybe that size, the extended area was quite large, with locals' homes spread across a patch on the foothills of the surrounding mountains.Read More