El Chalten Hike – Day 3

Friday 4th December 2015

There was a group of hikers who left for sunrise around 4.20am and were so cheerful about going to see the sunrise that they woke up everyone. They came back around 7.30am, waking up everyone again and continuing to chat non-stop. Unluckily, their tents were right next to ours.

I got out of the tent around 8am and had a chat with them. They had just not realised they were noisy and once I made them realise that there were other people around, they apologised and continued chatting but less loud. Good to realise sometimes that loud people may not always be doing that on purpose but that they can just get carried out and sometimes saying something is worth it!

We had some coffee and cereals with Alex and Francesca. Agnieszka came back from watching the sunrise at the top of Laguna Los Tres. Here is the link to amazing shots she takes including the ones of that morning: https://500px.com/agnieszkamroo

When she came back, she found again her plastic bag full of food torn apart and spread on the ground. Whether it was rats or something else, there is definitely a risk of getting your food eaten if you don`t leave it on a rope in a proper bag!
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We said good-bye to her and headed to Laguna Sucia. We knew where the entry to the path was.
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The beginning of the path was ok. It was clearly telling us not to go but we wanted to try it out and see Laguna Sucia if we could.
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So far, so good. A normal path at the beginning.
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Then we crossed the river from rock to rock and walked on its left side towards the laguna.DSCF2286 (Medium)

Walking on the left bank.
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We stopped at some point, enjoying this view. I took the ND400 filter out along with the gorillapod and the timer to take this 3 seconds exposure shot to freeze the water.
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We went up and down rocks. It was getting tougher. DSCF2309 (Medium)

Some people had left cairns which indicated to us we were on a right track.DSCF2310 (Medium)

Alex was in front and passed this first hill in the distance. DSCF2315 (Medium)

This is a photo of him disappearing there, tiny black dot above grey rocks. In the background is a glacier.DSCF2316 (Medium)

Francesca didn`t feel really good and decided to go back a bit and wait for us. I carried on, alongside the river until I saw that I would have to follow Alex`s steps and go above the hill. I grabbed a rock to put weight on it with my hand to go up but that massive rock starting rolling and scared me like crazy. It rolled a bit above my right knee and then right foot and stopped. This happened within a few seconds only. I stopped, sat and touched my knee and foot to analyse the damage. Nothing broken. It would just turn into big bruises in both spots probably. I thought about it. If I had not moved in the right direction to avoid it,  it could have crushed my right knee and I could have been in a seriously bad position. I realised I didn`t even have a whistle on me. The first aid kit would not have been of much help that day for a crushed knee. What would I have done? I would just have waited there. Luckily I had gone with Alex and Francesca and within a few hours, they would have realised something was wrong and would have searched for me on the way to the lake and found me there. How would I have been rescued from there? No boat or car could come. By helicopter? Or hopping on one leg from one rock to another? How would we have managed to cross again the river though? It did involve a bit of jumping and balancing your weight and using your hands. Helicopter then? Was my travel insurance even covering this kind of hiking on paths that were not recommended? In any case, I decided that this was enough for me and turned back. Too bad for seeing the Laguna.

Here is a picture of the white rock with a few black dots that almost fell on my knee. It was probably around 50-100 kilos!

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The hill I had got so close by.

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I walked back and found Francesca. On the other side of the river, Alex was there again. He had made it to the Laguna Sucia and then turned back but told us it was indeed a really tough and dangerous walk. We started heading back to the campground, jumping from rock to rock to cross the river.

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Finding the path again, walking back.

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The Fitzroy in the distance.

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We got back to the campground, a bit disappointed about not making it. At the same time… It was not about the destination, but more about the experience. That crazy idea  of ours to try to get to that laguna turned up into an adventurous morning where we learned to turn back at the right time!

We cooked some hot lunch made of letter noodles and noodles and a veggie cube and some spinach soup. Somehow it turned out into something really yummy. After one portion each, Francesca and Alex were feeling full. I had three more. I was just amazed about the quantity of food I needed to feel full and energised compared to them. So strange. There were sandflies and horseflies at the campground and they seemed to love Alex more than us. I am usually the insect repellent of everyone but for once someone was being bitten more than me! Nice! Lol, Alex, just kidding. It wasn`t fun for you for sure! 🙂

We undid the tents, packed the bags and at 3.45pm we started walking towards Campo Agostini.

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On the path to the campground, we often saw this little bird which was really fast-moving.

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We saw a lot of tree shapes also that looked like animals or monsters. Here is a unicorn. I was actually walking 10-20 minutes behind Francesca and Alex and they made a break and when I met them again, I asked them jokingly: “Hey guys, did you see the unicorn?”
and they said “Yes, we did!” That was awesome. It is quite rare to see a shape in a tree and meet people who can see the exact same shape as you!
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Here are more photos of that afternoon walk from Campamento Poincenot to Campamento Agostini.

Alex and Francesca were faster and when I arrived at the campground, they had already pitched their tent and had made a tea. They had ran out of gas in their butane gas can. I setup my tent and got my MSR Whisperlite International stove out and tried to start it. There is the preheating step where you have to pump the bottle to get it under pressure, then you plug it into the stove and open a little bit the gas. It is supposed to go through the tube and do some little noise and get out liquid. Then you use matches or a lighter and put fire to the liquid and turn off the stove. It creates huge flames, you wait that the flames decreases, then you turn on again the bottle and it will be blue flames that can finally cook something. Well, that first preheating step was not working anymore. There was no liquid getting out. Just gas. I grabbed the instruction sheet and started reading about maintenance with Francesca. I took apart some of the stove parts and shook it and blew into it and then put it back together. I did the same with the pump. Francesca helped me by putting the bottle under pressure again, and we tried again.

It still didn`t work. It was 9pm now and most people were inside their tents, ready to sleep. There was just one couple in a tent nearby who was still awake. I walked to them and asked if I could borrow their stove if they had enough gas. The guy said that his bottle
was half-full only and it was only their first day out of four day hikes. I asked him which stove he had. He showed me, it was an MSR model bigger than the Whisperlite. He didn`t know the name. Maybe the dragonfly. The good news was that we had the same type so I
could actually borrow his stove and use my own bottle of gas with it.. That was great.  He came over to check out my stove and we tried it again, in case it was not working just because the level of white gas left in it was low. But it still didn`t work. So he lended us his stove and we could make pasta for the evening. His name was Philip and his girlfriend
and him were Swiss-Germans. We cooked pasta, and brought back the stove. Everyone was now in their tent, quiet. Then we saw a fox and then 2 other foxes hanging around. They were soooo pretty! It was awesome to see them. I didn`t get my camera enough fast but got that blurry shot from far.
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Alex and Francesca were super tired and went to bed. I cleaned the dishes in the river, my turn this time. Brushed the teeth. Went to bed. It was already 11.30pm! There is light until so late in the day here that sometimes we forget how late it can get!

Tomorrow, let’s go check out Laguna Torre!