Went for an amble in the countryside today. It started with being picked up to get a short ride up the Rio de Lass Vueltes to the Hosteria El Pilar, which looked a delightful place to stay away from the hustle and bustle of El Chalten. The walk started form there onwards and at first very gradually upwards following the Rio Blanco.
The stands of Lenga trees were continuously amazing and old. Hundreds of years. It is a Nothofagus species, members of which are also found in Southern Australia and New Zealand, along with fossil remnants in Antarctica. All evidence that all continents were once part of Gondwanaland. Older trees signs of the Magellan Woodpecker’s activities, No sign of the bird itself though with the male and his bright red head.
Our first break was opposite Laguna Piedra Blanco. The view of Fitz Roy was getting better all the time with the cloud lifting its veil off the mountains. The trek, it being a chore not to stop all the time for photos of the trees, valley and mountains. Eventually we crossed the Rio on a simple bridge after passing through a small tent city of trekkers and climbers. The bridge across the Rio was half disappointment and half relief as the fast flowing glacial water would have been freezing to wade through. On the other side were Niri, a smaller shrub like beech.
And then we started climbing up towards the old climber’s camp. There is a wonderful refuge hut that seems entirely build with mortice, tennon and peg joints construction, with the upright wall timber slabs almost sewn on with wire.
After that it only took an hour of climbing. First though the last of the forest, then they surrendered to scrub at about 1000 meters altitude just as the track really steepened up. There were a few other hikers climbing their way up to the lookout over Laguna de Las Tres and the picture postcard Monte Fitz Roy. You didn’t see any of these as you scramble your way up the track for the last five minutes. Then, suddenly, the track flattens out and winds its way to the right around the shoulder of the mountain. It all comes into view pretty much all at once. It leaves you breathless if you weren’t so already from the climb. More picture postcard stuff.
But wait, there is more. If you head a few hundred meters to the northwest down and then up a little knoll Lago Succia comes into view and the picture is complete. Catch your breath and eat your lunch while you drink in the view.
The scale of this location is deceptive without any point of reference. Lago Succio is 300 meters below Lago de Los Tres, and Fitz Roy towers almost 2300 meters over the lunch spot on the knoll.
It is time to return to the valley taking memories and pictures that do not do them justice. After an hour you are back at the rustic shelter and your knees thankyou that the worst of the descent is over, even though there is still about 9 kilometers to go. You come to a wonderful walkway 2 logs wide that has been constructed by the local Parks Service out of trees cut in half lengthwise. This crosses a Wetland area, which is another green and wet surprise this track produces for you. Just after that you arrive at Laguna Capri where you can sit on a pebble strewn beach.
From here it is a leisurely stroll of just one and half hours to the outskirts of El Chalten and the call of a cold, well deserved, Cerveza at the nearby Beer Garden