Just a side note before I begin this post. Our blog has been months behind because we chose to travel off the grid and sometimes did not have wifi for weeks at a time. Yesterday we flew back to the states, I am actually writing this in Dallas right now from the airport. Even though the South America portion of this adventure is over I am committed to finish the blog through our trips end. If for anything, this blog is a joy for me and Sam to look back on our adventures. As I was waxing nostalgic about the trip ending I pulled up some old blog posts and was taken back to the colonial towns of Mexico and the humid beaches of Costa Rica. It has been the best two years of my life and at least virtually the adventure continues…….
I did not know what Fitz Roy was when we left, but I had seen the image of the mountain range hundreds of times without even knowing it. It is the iconic spiky peaks that is on every Lonely Planet and Patagonia guide book to Argentina. And here is why:
We drove into El Chalten, the slightly charming but very touristy town that is the base for exploring Fitz Roy which is in Los Glaciers Nacional Park. On the road in if you are lucky with the weather you will start to see the looming peaks in the distance. This mountain range took our breath away!!!
We sat in town and waited for peaks of the giant mastiffs, most of the time we got this:
Our first night in El Chalten introduced us to our first CRAZY night of Patagonia wind. I can’t even begin to describe it. It is not consistent, it comes in these powerful, violent gusts, some so hard they felt like out rig was hit by a train. It went on all night and the wind block at the overpriced campground (that were really made for tents) did nothing for us when we were popped up. We had one of our rare sleepless nights.
The XP is actually really strong in the wind, but when the wind would hit we would sway on our air bags suspension making it feel like we were on rough seas. Also, the tent portion around the bed flaps around a lot in the super strong wind which basically makes it challenging to sleep, it is very noisy.
However, that being said we fared better than our friends rigs in the wind. No rig is really made for 80 MPH winds slamming into them all night other than the Unimog tanks some Europeans drive. Most overland vehicles are impacted by Patagonia wind, I can’t even begin to imagine doing it in a roof top tent when the wind hits. We were never in danger of having the tent rip off and were often the wind block for other overlanders. It is just very noisy and rocky which makes it hard to sleep. The wind in Patagonia is seriously like nothing I could ever imagine. It is what keeps this beautiful place devoid of too many people.
The silver lining to the horrible sleepless nights is that Sam and I postponed our 22 kilometer hike to the Laguna de los Tres (the ultimate Fitz Roy mirador hike) for the following day which turned out to be lucky because it ended up raining hard later in the morning and the clouds were thick the day after our sleepless night. The other silver lining is we decided to go look for a wind sheltered wild camp and we found a great wind free and tourist free place about 45 minutes outside of town with views of the Fitz Roy.
The day after we moved to our wild camp site we decided to do the Laguna de los Tres hike from a back entrance trail which we heard was much less busy then the one that went from El Chalten. The day started off cool, but we had almost zero wind and the cool weather was nice on the more strenuous parts of the hike.
As we were hiking back down we (actually I decided and take full blame) to take another trail back. We did not know how long this trail was or the condition of it, but in my innocence I was sure it was similar to the one we took in. It was not. It was a much more difficult trail to hike (technical boulder scrambles, I think it added an extra 4 to 5 kilometers to our 21 kilometer hike. My legs were so tired from hiking to the laguna and now I found myself climbing for an hour over boulders. I was super exhausted when this hike finally ended and when I get that tired I get super punchy. I was cracking myself up which I guess makes it all go faster. The last hour as we rambled through the forest Sam and I tried to make huemules (the rare Andean deer) calls to lure them out of the forest. I wish we had video of it. We made some fairly terrifying sounds that must have scared all wildlife in a ten mile radius away.
The next day we woke up to even better weather. It was actually hot, almost 85 degrees. All the local in town were complaining about the heat so I think it was a bit abnormal. We decided to do another hike to Cerro Torre, another famous peak in the park.
On our final day (after almost a week in this part of the park the weather was perfect again and Sam decided to wake up at dawn and do the Laguna de los Tres hike again so he could see it in the perfect blue skies. After three days of intense back to back hiking I was just too tired, so Sam did the entire 21 kilometers in three hours!!!!! It took us five to do the portion of the hike he did and I realized that I must be a slow hiker, or Sam is just a hiking beast =).
The glacier near the laguna.
Fitz Roy set the bar for us and was one of the highlights of the trip for us. Patagonia just keeps on getting better and better.