While Sam and I were at the sun gates at Machu Pichu, we met an Argentinian girl. We talked about our trip, about what we were looking forward to ahead of us and especially how we could not wait to get to Patagonia. She told us when we got to the lake district in Argentina that we HAD to take the hike to Refugio Otto Meiling. We put it on our bucket list and waited for Anna and Cody to arrive before we did this hike.
To get to the trail head we needed to drive to Pampa Linda in the park. The small dirt road was really beautiful and only allows one way traffic, so you have to look ahead of time and make sure that the direction you need to go and then time your arrival. I am pretty sure until two in the afternoon you can drive into the park, then traffic reverses and people are then allowed to drive out after 2PM. It was funny, with these rules we thought it was going to be a super tiny road, but after driving in Peru we laughed at what was perceived as a single track road. It felt very spacious to us!
On a side note, my Mom asked in our last post where Anna and Cody sat for the two weeks they were here because she knows we don’t have a back seat. We tore out our back seats in Utah and replaced them with a giant lock box and an ARB fridge. To make space for two more we had to remove the lock box, put a thick piece of ply wood over the hole and then cover the wood with cushions. This is where Anna and I sat. It was not the most comfortable seat, but it worked. The biggest pain was moving the heavy lock box into the XP up the stairs and down again when we set up camp. But honestly, it was such a little thing to deal with considering how much fun we were having with Anna and Cody it did not bother us for a second. And Cody and Sam did most of the heavy lifting.
We arrived to Pampa Linda the day before New Years eve and it was freezing! We even got a bit of snow!!!! I think it was the coldest it has been for us in Patagonia. Not to be deterred, we all bundled up and hiked to a waterfall in cold rain and literally were all soaked to the bone. However, we just used that as an excuse to get hot chocolate in the old fashion lodge near the camping area.
One New Years Eve it was still super cold. I decided to make a huge batch of butternut squash chicken soup for our long hike the next day. For our New Years celebration we turned the dining area into a huge couch, cranked on the heater and the four of us sat and watched a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy) eating huge bowls of buttery popcorn and drinking champagne. It was such a fun New Years and I remember so much laughter and smiles. We just love Anna and Cody, and spending time with them felt so natural and fun.
Cody told me that if I made soup for our hike, it would guarantee good weather and he was right! We woke up New Years day and the sun was shining and it was warm. People say that if you don’t like the weather in Patagonia just wait around five minutes. That is such a true statement, the weather changes quickly and dramatically. We went from snow to balmy sunshine in a day. We packed up the soup, snacks and plenty of water and headed out to what was the best New Years day ever.
The hike to Refugio Otto Meiling was our favorite hike of the trip. We had perfect weather, even better company and the conditions were perfect. The snow we had to hike on was firm and not too slushy and the sky was pristine after all the rain. We loved this hike and maybe it was the company or the magic of the day, but it was one of those days I will remember for the rest of my life.
This was the best New Years I have ever had. And maybe others will do this hike and think it is just ok, but for us, it was one of the best days of our trip. I am so, so happy that Anna and Cody got to share one of our best days of this epic journey.
The last day we had Anna and Cody we wanted Cody to get in some fishing. As we were driving over a bridge on the road back from Pampa Linda we could actually see large trout swimming in the water! There were a lot of men trying to catch fish here, seeing all those trout was more than tempting, but none of them had caught anything. We got out to relax and watched Cody cast, adjust his flies, adjust his position and try to catch one of the elusive trout. Within an hour he had hooked his first trout and the look of defeat in all the other fisherman was kind of awesome, especially when he released it back into the river. Cody caught another trout that was so big it bent his hook and got away. It was fun standing on the bridge watching him fish, the water was so clear we could see if the fish were going for the fly or not.
The time we spent with Anna and Cody was too short, but I guess I would rather have two short weeks in Patagonia than no weeks at all with them. I see us all traveling to South America again spending half a year in Patagonia alone with Cody and Anna (in their own rig). A girls got to dream =).