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December 22, 2015

What a day…15 miles!

After enjoying a nice though light breakfast of cereal, cheese and fruit we walked through town to the trailhead for Laguna Torre on the northwest side of El Chaltén. Cute homes and interesting iron sculptures lined the gravel streets. I particularly got a kick out of the camping area in someone’s yard just feet from the trailhead.

I think the steepest part of the trail was the very beginning. Just as David reached the top by the sign, I stopped to take a picture of him and proceeded to trip on the rock in front of me. I completely face planted! Somehow I protected my camera, but ended up with two knee caps on my right knee and a deeply bruised wrist. Whew…not a way to start an eight day hiking trip!

Fortunately, that was the last of my falls for the day and the pain subsided over time. The beginning of the trail led us into the Fitzroy river valley. We followed a relatively level yet rocky path through a meadow peppered with trees stunted in growth by the wind. They looked sort of like mesquite trees. For some reason, we expected evergreens, so we were surprised by the more southwestern feel.

After about an hour of leisurely hiking, we reached a lookout point, Mirador del Cerro Torre equipped with a bathroom. Luckily for David, our view of Cerro Torre, Cerro Solo, and the Adela range in the distance was eclipsed by clouds. Had it been clear, I would have likely stopped every hundred feet to snap another photo, instead I probably stopped every thousand feet (haha). We continued on, enjoying the chirps of the colorful song birds and admiring the powder blue river of glacial melt. A giant hare quickly hopped away as we trekked along the path with a few wildflowers scattered about.

Upon exiting the intermittent forest of trees, the mountains increasingly came into view as the sun shined on our backs. We crossed paths with a few trekkers, though far less than we expected. Upon reaching Laguna Torre we only shared the shore with four others that soon left. We found a windbreak that seemed to double as a latrine despite the two designated potty areas on the trail. This was disappointing at first, but we climbed slightly higher to another windbreak for lunch as we appreciated the view.

Amazingly, the wind felt non-existent for most of our lunch as we delighted in the glowing iceberg floating in the lake below. And soon most of the pinnacles and part of the glacier emerged from the moving clouds. It was so exciting to watch the scenery unfold. While we waited for the clouds to shift, we walked both sides of the lake. First we followed the south side to the river basin. A zipline stretched across the river. Too bad we didn’t have a harness. A sign read “peligro (dangerous). Do not pass without a parks permit”.

We turned back to try the other side that leads to Mirador Maestri. We climbed up to a ridge over the rocky trail and followed it west. The closer we got to the glacier, the more we found ourselves in its own microclimate. The wind gusted in our face and the snow flurried more and more with the elevation. I’m not sure if we reached the final lookout point, as the weather was turning quickly, but we did get up pretty high over the glacier for a cool view.

While the glacier, the lagoon, and the towering pinnacles captured our attention most of time, we heard running water to our right. Peering through the trees, we spotted a magnificent waterfall! I really feel fortunate that we reached the lake when we did, as it wasn’t long after heading toward Mirado Maestri that the clouds started spreading over the lake and toward town. We were lucky to get some clear sky over these massive rock formations before heading back to town with the threat of inclement weather.

waterfall

With scattered clouds overhead, we returned down a different fork of the trail and walked through awesome forest. It reminded me of the trees around a lake in Texas without the humidity, bugs and snakes! The strangest phenomenon, however, was for the temperature to feel close 50 degrees beneath the sun, yet have snow float down on us. It melted before it ever hit the ground. Our total hike ended up being around 15 miles and was fairly easy, though admittedly after about 10-12 miles I was ready to go to La Cerveceria for popcorn and a beer! I had to wait a few hours.

So David has a cool app called Trimble. He can track each hike and add photos and videos to the exact location on the map. He tried it out for the first time on our return of our out-and-back hike. Click this link to see the details: map of our hike

After our beer, we returned to Lunajuim, showered, made arrangements for the next day, and then set off to dinner. Lamb was on David’s mind and boy did he get what he wanted. We went to El Veijo Nando, a fancy Asador-Parilla where lamb was cooked over fire in the window of the restaurant. His meal was excellent. I wasn’t as fond of my caprese salad which I have never seen served in such a way or my lamb bruschetta, but it was a nice dinner. Fortunately we had cash on us, as that is all they took! Ready to go to Fitz Roy tomorrow. ETB

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