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Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

Move over, Suzanne Sommers

The thighmaster has been replaced.  Meet my horse, or as Adam and I nicknamed him, Rusty, the beefaroni pony:

rusty

Adam and I decided to make a horseback riding excursion while visiting Bariloche. It taught me that it is a very, very good thing that I live in a city, not on a ranch. My first thought when I got on the horse was, “Ok, where is the seatbelt? And the handles? My saddle does not appear to have handles. Or guardrails, perhaps? Umm, guys, I think there’s something missing from my saddle.” Sadly, I was unable to translate those thoughts into spanish and we were off, me with only two measly little leather reins to hold on to.

It was a perfectly enjoyable little ride, that is until I saw our guide pull a small (not even as big around as my pinky) branch off a tree as we ambled down the path. As he pulled the leaves off, we passed into an open pasture. He proceeded to hand me the switch and motioned for me to use it to convince Rusty that it was time to really get moving. I, being ever obedient, but also not really keen on the idea of whacking an animal with a stick, gave him a little tap on the rump behind my saddle.

Rusty apparently did not appreciate the subtleness of the tap. He took off like that switch was electrified. My feet promptly slipped right out of the stirrups, leaving me holding on for dear, sweet life with only the strength of my inner thighs.

As I (painfully) discovered the following morning, it turns out that good old-fashioned fear is one of the best personal trainers out there.  I woke up with legs that were more sore than any number of squats or lunges has ever left them.  Have I stumbled on the next big exercise craze?  Runaway horses with ill-adjusted stirrups, coming to a gym near you!

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Our last two days in El Chalten were action packed and tiring. We did two long hikes again, and the first two-thirds of both were the exact same. But after arriving to a campsite and crossing a few streams and a river, there was a choice to make. Go up to near the base of Fitz Roy or over to a glacier and lake.

The first day after Nate and Sarah left was overcast, windy, and misty. We wanted to go to Fitz Roy since that was the main attraction for people coming to El Chalten, and at that point, we weren’t too sure if we were going to be up for a third 8-9 hour hike in a row. The weather wasn’t too bad by Patagonian standards, but we were a bit skeptical about making the trek all the way up to Fitz Roy and end up not being able to see it because it was too cloudy.

The two pics below were taken at the same exact place a day apart, to give you an idea of what cloudy weather does to the views.

Mirador on the way to Fitz Roy

Mirador on the way to Fitz Roy

View from mirador on the way to Fitz Roy (on a sunny day)

View from mirador on the way to Fitz Roy (on a sunny day)

On the overcast day, we hiked for for about 2.5 hours, got to the splitting point in the trail and decided to go to the glacier and lake instead of Fitz, which turned out to be a great choice.

There were all types of streams that we had to navigate, and then a river with several crossings that we had to hike down for a good hour or so, hopping from rock to rock on no discernable trail while trying not to get wet. It was a fun part of the hike and was a welcome change from the dirt and gravel trails we had been hiking on.

The best thing about all the streams everywhere was that all water in and around El Chalten was drinkable without any purifying. All the water was from glacial melt, and it was honestly the best water I’ve ever tasted. Simply great, and because there was water everywhere, it was only necessary to carry a small bottle, so minimal water weight in our pack.

Adam on bridge crossing Rio Blanco

Adam on bridge crossing Rio Blanco

Rio Blanco

Rio Blanco

Rio Blanco 2

Rio Blanco 2

After the hike down the river, we had to take a left to go to the lake and glacier. The last hour or so of the hike was very interesting and honestly one of the funnest parts of a hike that either of us had ever experienced. It required climbing over huge boulders with no one set way to go. We knew the direction we had to go, but there was certainly no trail. It was a bit harrowing at times climbing over, on, and around these huge rocks with the glacial melt below us in many cases. One wrong step wouldn’t have resulted in serious injury or anything, but a shoe submerged in icy water would not have made for a comfortable 4 hour hike back into town. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but these were the types of rocks we had to climb over for a good hour to get to our final destination (all in the wind and a light rain, which made these huge boulders nice and slippery for us).

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After jumping, climbing, slipping, and hopping our way over all these for a good hour or so, we finally arrived. The glacier and lake were obviously gorgeous, as were the many icebergs (some a deep blue color) floating about aimlessly in the lake. One of the coolest things about it though was the waterfalls everywhere coming down off the glacier. The wind was so fierce that it would literally blow the ends of some of the waterfalls back up, preventing them from ever actually hitting the ground or entering the lake. It was a wild sight to see, a waterfall actually going upwards. So make sure you maximize the pictures below and look closely at some of the waterfalls, particularly the really skinny one toward the left. You see it just end in mid-air. Pretty cool.

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Lago Piedras Blancas

Lago Piedras Blancas

Lago Piedras Blancas (with icebergs)

Lago Piedras Blancas (with icebergs)

Glaciar Piedras Blancas

Glaciar Piedras Blancas

Close up of Lago Piedras BLancas

Close up of Lago Piedras BLancas

Close up of icebergs

Close up of icebergs

Notice the waterfall to the left

Notice the waterfall to the left

Close up of waterfall

Close up of waterfall

After all that, we had to make our way back, which took a good four more hours.  You would think that we would have rested after the last 2 days, and even though we didn’t want to admit it, we wouldn’t have been crushed had we woken up to rain our last day in Chalten.  But the weather gods apparently wanted us to go outside because we awoke to a warm, sunny day,

Beautiful blue sky and odd, bright white clouds

Beautiful blue sky and odd, bright white clouds

We knew we had to go all the way to Fitz Roy this time.  And as we began our hike with full views of Fitz nearly the entire time, we knew we made a good decision.

Cerro Fitz Roy from a distance

Cerro Fitz Roy from a distance

From the trail

From the trail

View from the trail

View from the trail

The first 2.5 hours were the same as the day before, but instead of heading down the river this time, we headed up.

Straight up.

The trail up

The trail up

It was straight up for about an hour and a half, and although we’ve had longer uphills in hikes we’ve done since we’ve been gone, we have never done anything steeper.  And we were also racing the clouds.  We could see some getting close to the summit, and we were going to be pissed had we come all this way to have the peak obscured once we got up there.

After some pep talks and encouragement, we finally reached the top, with enough time to spare to pull up a rock for lunch and admire the view from the top.

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Lago de los Tres and Fitz Roy (from as high as you can get unless you are climbing it)

Lago de los Tres and Fitz Roy (from as high as you can get unless you are climbing it)

Close up of Fitz Roy

Close up of Fitz Roy

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View from the top opposite the lake and Fitz Roy

View from the top opposite the lake and Fitz Roy

After another loooooooooooong walk back to town, we had to get ready to leave the next morning to head to Chile for a 5 day trek in Torres del Paine.  We will have those posts forthcoming, along with some stuff about the last week we’ve spent relaxing in Bariloche (not much to tell because we really didn’t do much, but we’ve had a blast here).

On Sunday, we head to a little hippy town called El Bolson which is a couple hours south of Bariloche.  After spending much of next week there, we are contemplating crossing the Chilean border again and climbing a volcano that we can then sled back down.  We are running out of time here in southern South America.  In a few weeks we head north to Colombia for a month before moving to the other side of the world.

Lots more to come, stay tuned…

~Adam

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It’s been a few weeks now since we were there, but after Perito Moreno Glacier, we headed north a few hours to a small town (for now) called El Chalten. There are only 200 permanent residents, but during summer it transforms into a trekker’s heaven, and every hostel and hotel is pretty much sold out. Luckily for many trekkers, the beautiful surroundings provide a ton of camping opportunities if you’re brave enough to withstand the constant winds that we’ve written so much about during our time in Patagonia.

We arrived in El Chalten with one thing in mind: get in as good of shape as we can for our “W” trek in Torres del Paine NP the following week. Now as you already know, Torres del Paine did a number on Megan’s poor feet, but part of that was due to our overzealousness in El Chalten. We had 5 nights there, and we hiked every single day, with the first two days consisting of a few short hikes, and the last three days being our crazy long hikes that were referenced a few posts ago.

We arrived in El Chalten about 5pm our first day with the sun booming and nary a cloud in the sky. We were told by the rangers that it had been raining all day (typical of Patagonia in the summer), and it had just cleared up in the last hour or so. They told us that we should take advantage of the great weather, go put our belongings in our rooms, and get out there and hike. And because it stays light out until 10pm, we still had plenty of time.

So we did as we were told (as I’ve always personally done my whole life when it comes to authority–I can’t speak for my wife though 😉 ) and headed out on a short hike to the mirador overlooking the town and mountains of Fitz Roy (the main attraction of trekkers and climbers coming to El Chalten) and Cerro Torre.

The town of El Chalten below Fitz Roy and the Cerro mountains

The town of El Chalten below Fitz Roy and the Cerro mountains

El Chalten and Fitz Roy

El Chalten and Fitz Roy

This wind does wonders for my new hairstyle

This wind does wonders for my new hairstyle

Not only was the hiking and views spectacular (they only got better after that short first day), but another great thing about El Chalten was the people we met. We did another short hike on day 2 (we had to ease into after our month of steak, wine, and dulce de leche in BA). We were lucky enough to be sitting here having lunch with this view:

View from our lunch spot

View from our lunch spot

View from our lunch spot 2

View from our lunch spot 2

While sitting here eating, people kept coming up to admire the wonderful views. Two of these people were Nate and Sarah, from New York. We got to talking and found out that they were traveling around South America for about 6 months. Even though we only talked for about 15 minutes, something just clicked, and Sarah asked us we would like to join them for dinner that night.

Now one thing that we have written about time and time again and talked about incessantly is how much we miss our friends and family back home. So it was awesome to meet a couple that we got along with so well, and we instantly became friends.

We ended up at a nice microbrewery that was coincidentally right next door to the hostel that Megan and I were staying in. Our dinner turned into 3 hours of eating and drinking, and we decided to make hiking plans for the next day. Luckily because of the “light til 10pm thing” it wasn’t necessary to get up early (I think plans would have changed had that been the case).

So we met the next day bright and early (at 11am), had some breakfast, got some sandwiches together for the hike, and were off by about 1pm on our first long expedition in Patagonia (24km in about 8 hours).

After a difficult initial climb, the scenery was stunning as we hiked for about 5 hours to Glaciar Torres and Lago Torres, bullshitting about pretty much everything along the way.

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Glaciar Torre from a distance

Glaciar Torre from a distance

Cerro Torre

Cerro Torre

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Glaciar Torre and Cerro Torre

Glaciar Torre and Cerro Torre

Best Johhny ever?

Best Johhny ever?

After our 5 hours of hiking and chatting and eating and hiking and chatting and eating, we finally arrived to Lago Torre and Glaciar Torre, which we had been seeing the whole time in the distance. Even though we knew we had a long hike back to town, the views when we arrived were definitely worth the long day.

Lago Torre

Lago Torre

Cerro Torre (from in front of Lago Torre)

Cerro Torre (from in front of Lago Torre)

Lago Torre 2

Lago Torre 2

Nate, Sarah, Megan, and Adam in front of Lago Torre

Nate, Sarah, Megan, and Adam in front of Lago Torre

The hike was not a loop, so it was the same hike back as it was to the Glaciar and Lake, but we still took our time and got lots more pictures. Even though (in my opinion) the end results of our hikes the next two days were more spectacular, this was my favorite all around hike in El Chalten. Many factors were at play here, including the weather, the variety of the scenery at every turn, and great new friends that we were with the whole time.

Hike back down

Hike back down

Cerro Torre in the distance obscured by clouds

Cerro Torre in the distance obscured by clouds

Looking back during the hike back from Lago Torres

Looking back during the hike back from Lago Torres

El Chalten in the distance (almost back)

El Chalten in the distance (almost back)

After we got back down, exhausted, tired, and sweaty, we had another great dinner with our new friends (but a lot more tame than the previous night). Unfortunately Nate and Sarah had to leave early the next morning for an epic 36 hour bus trip, but we have been in touch and hope to meet back up with them in Santiago in early March before we fly to Colombia.

A great first few days in El Chalten. And the first of three straight 8+ hour hiking days for our “training” for Torres del Paine. Will be back soon with part 2 of our hiking adventures, plus plenty more pictures.

Until then…

~Adam

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Walking with penguins

(This post is dedicated to our nephew, Johnny)

Just takin' a stroll

Just takin' a stroll

We still have several posts to catch up on for our hiking through El Chalten and Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine (and now since we’re grounded in Bariloche for at least a week with working internet, they will be coming soon), but we wanted to get a post up from our trip to Punta Tombo the other day to see the one of the largest penguin colonies in the world (with about half a million penguins). There won’t be much more writing (I swear!), mostly just videos and pictures.

These little guys were loud creatures as well. Hard to tell from many of the videos because of the crazy wind, but this next video is a good indication of what we heard in the few hours we were there.

We were also able to get up very close to many of them without complaint from most (there was one that looked a little suspicious of me, but he calmed down).

Megan with penguins

Megan with penguins

Killer Penguin

Killer Penguin

Standoff

Standoff

Sign in the park giving right of way to the penguins, which was necessary at times

Sign in the park giving right of way to the penguins, which was necessary at times

We did get to see several of them walking around (which was a hilarious sight)

But there were also tons of lazy ones just chilling and laying around doing absolutely nothing. And one of them reminded us of our dog, Wilson, when he lays in his chair at home and flops his big head on the arm of the chair, so we aptly named him “Wilson Penguin”.

Sleepy penguins

Sleepy penguins

Just chillin'

Just chillin'

Close-up

Close-up

Fat, lazy penguin

Fat, lazy penguin

Wilson Penguin

Wilson Penguin

The further we got into the park, the more dense it became with penguins. It was pretty remarkable. They were just everywhere.

Popular penguin hang-out

Popular penguin hang-out

Lots o' penguins

Lots o' penguins

lots-of-penguins

Good wide shot

Good wide shot

One of the highlights of the trip to Punta Tombo was definitely watching the penguins swim. There was a nice overlook to the ocean, where there were hundreds, if not thousands of penguins chilling on the beach, with some taking a dip. February is also the first time that the babies decide to take their first swim. Pretty cool.

Penguins swimming

Penguins swimming

Penguins swimming 2

Penguins swimming 2

swimming

It was a great day that was a ton of fun and nice and relaxing after our frantic last few weeks hiking.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we arrived yesterday in Bariloche, where we’ll be for at least a week. It’s really gorgeous (which is a them here in Patagonia), and we are going to take advantage of our really laid back hostel (that has a bar with some really good local beers, stouts, too, woohoo!!) and get some much needed r&r. But we also have several other things on the agenda, such as horseback riding, biking, and of course, more hiking. We will also get everything up to date with the blog, with much more detailed posts about our hiking adventures, new friends we have met, and tons of pictures. So stay tuned….

~Adam

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Glaciar Perito Moreno

Perito Moreno in all its glory

Perito Moreno in all its glory

There are many highlights of Patagonia, but Perito Moreno Glaciar is no doubt one of the biggest. After our trip there last week, it was easy to see why.

There are many different ways to see Perito Moreno. Most people just take a bus ride there from El Calafate. Once there, there are many different walkways from which to see it. It is also possible to take boat rides from either the north or south face. The above video was taken from our boat ride from the north face, which is the bigger of the two.  Here are several pictures from our boat ride, which gave us an up close and personal view of Perito Moreno.

close up view of north face

close up view of north face

North Face of Perito Moreno

North Face of Perito Moreno

Wide shot of north face (and remember, this is just half of the north face)

Wide shot of north face (and remember, this is just half of the north face)

Wanderers

Wanderers

One of the coolest things about Perito Moreno was the ice breaking off the face of the glacier. It made a thunderous sound and then came crashing down into the lake below, sending waves rippling all around and huge chunks of ice bobbing up and down. The ice that fell off was usually a deep blue color which was simply stunning (in the following pictures, make sure to watch the center of the photos and flip through quickly to get an idea of how massive the chunks falling off the glacier were).

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Luckily, my wish was granted, and I was also rolling video as Megan was snapping photos of the ice falling off.

From the walkways you get different vantage points of the both the north and south face. In the above video, you can only see half of just the north face to give you an idea of the enormity of Perito Moreno. It did take the better part of a day to walk around the entire thing getting to see all the views of both sides of it.

Blue Ice

Blue Ice

Close up of crevasses

Close up of crevasses

View of north face from above

View of north face from above

Is this actually real?

Is this actually real?

View from above 1

View from above 1

View from above 2

View from above 2

View from above 3

View from above 3

North face

North face

North face

North face

North face

North face

Notice the boat to the right--this was a catamaran that holds 250 people, which is dwarfed by the glacier

Notice the boat to the right--this was a catamaran that holds 250 people, which is dwarfed by the glacier

We are currently in Puerto Natales, Chile, and we are leaving on Friday to go on a 5 day trek in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, where we will be out of the loop until Tuesday night (I won’t even know who the Super Bowl winner was until then).  We have a lot of preparing to do tomorrow, including shopping for food, packing our stuff, and getting prepared for 5 days out in the Patagonian wild.  We also hope to get a couple more blog posts written and scheduled from our time in El Chalten.

Until next time…

~Adam

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Caption Contest Winner

Thanks to all who left a comment on the three-month trip report–the captions made me laugh so hard I almost fell off my chair. We agonized and discussed, argued and negotiated, and we’ve finally decided that we can’t decide. You guys are all hilarious!

Anyone who left a comment on Adam’s three-month trip report post, and cares about getting a postcard from us, please send your address to mlklein at google’s popular email service, gmail dot com.

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We have left behind the comforts of our apartment in Buenos Aires, along with our private kitchen, private room, private bathroom, and eating steak and drinking red wine to excess.  We have now re-entered the backpacking world, arriving in El Calafate last night to begin our 6 week journey through Patagonia and the Lake District of both Argentina and Chile.

It was initially difficult when we saw our room for the first time (a 4 person dorm with two sets of bunk beds, both of us getting a separate top bunk–how romantic).

Our room in El Calafate

Our room in El Calafate

But a quick look out the window of the upstairs of our hostel and a trip to the front porch reminded us of why we are roughing it for the next several weeks we are in Patagonia.

View from second floor window of our hostel

View from second floor window of our hostel

View from the second floor window of our hostel

View from the second floor window of our hostel

The surroundings of the town of El Calafate are gorgeous.  It reminds us a bit of Switzerland, with a nice, beautifully colored green lake surrounded by huge, dark green trees and snow capped mountains in the background.

One thing that has been a bit unexpected is the wind.  While it is summer here, it doesn’t get hot because we’re so far south, but one of the things about summers in Patagonia is wind.  It’s typical for the wind to be constantly blowing at 25-35 mph.  It’s pretty crazy just walking down the street.

Look at that hair!

Look at that hair!

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet since my last post was the length of a book.  But we are adjusting just fine back into the backpacker’s life, and it doesn’t hurt that we have our visit to Perito Moreno Glacier tomorrow to look forward to, in addition to hiking, ice trekking, camping, and visiting glaciers and icebergs in the coming weeks.

Take care everyone, and until next time…

~Adam

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