El Chalten Hike – Day 4

Saturday 5th December 2015

I had set the alarm clock for 5.10am with the idea of going out to take photos of the lake for the sunrise. I didn`t hear the alarm clock until 5.24am though. When it woke me up, I was in a deep sleep, it was freezing and I just switched it off and went back to sleep. Ahahahaha. I actually did dream of a lake and a sunrise above the lake!

But it was much nicer from my cosy warm sleeping bag in my beautiful lovely Big Agnes Fly Creek tent! 😀

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I woke up naturally around 7am and got dressed, added the rain pant over the hiking pant and put on 4 layers. It was cold. I got out of the tent and Philip and his girlfriend were cooking breaky and had started packing their stuff. There was no sound coming out from the tent of Francesca and Alex so I assumed they were probably still sleeping. I went to chat with Philip and his girlfriend. I asked Philip where he had bought his white gas for the stove and he told me that he had found it at a camping store in El Chalten. As I had thought it would be hard to find, I had bought 2 bottles at the Easy shop in Valparaiso and since then I had not actually checked out if it was easy to find any, so it was great to hear that it was possible. Philip and his girlfriend were travelling for 3 weeks and then back to Switzerland. He had been to Torres del Paine, but 9 years before. We chatted a bit and then I left and went to prepare stuff for brekky. A bit later, Philip brought me his stove and I started boiling water for 3 coffees and to cook rice that we could eat for lunch. Francesca got out of the tent and we started chatting. An hawk was nearby and I walked around trying to get a sharp picture of it for a bit. Here it is, so pretty.

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We had coffee then I put the rice to cook by itself in the boiled water and then brought back the stove to Philip and his girlfriend. Alex got out of the tent, his stomach was hurting and he didn`t feel like drinking or eating anything.  We got ready and started walking towards the Mirador Maestri, taking the allowed path on the right side of the Laguna Torre.

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After a few minutes, I was hypnotised by the view of this lake and the mountains in the background, including the Cerro Torre and decided to stop there for a bit and do some long exposure shooting to get the lake still. It would have been really nice to be there at sunrise, although who knows, maybe there would not have been colours and I would have been tired and freezing for nothing. I was still happy to be there at this time, when there was no one around yet. Francesca and Alex carried on and I stopped, changed lens for the 12mm wide angle lens, put on the ND400 black filter, set up the gorilla pod and the timer and took some shots like this one.
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I walked down to the lake and took a few more shots like this one.
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I walked up and packed the bag again and realised I had forgotten the other lens near the lake and went back down to grab it then continued walking. Seeing the view from higher up made me stop again and take some more long exposure shots. I continued walking with the 12mm lens on. Here was the path.
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I kept walking for a while and ran into Alex and Francesca who were already on their way back. Alex stomach ache had started to get worse. I told them to not wait for me as I was enjoying this view a lot and was slow in general anyway and the way back was easy and not challenging so it was no problem for me to walk back to El Chalten alone. We said good-bye there. It was so awesome to hike with them for 3 full days and a morning. They were really fun and easy-going and I had a great time. I knew that I would not have been able yet to just go alone on my own like this as I was still scared of going hiking alone and I was so glad that it had been ok for me to join them and that they turned to be really awesome people to hike with! Such a cool experience! I walked a bit more and got to the mirador. Here is the view I had from the glacier and Cerro Torre & co. It looks a bit like a tiramisu.
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Zooming in on the glacier structure. So pretty, so fascinating.
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View to the left. The spot where the ice block is floating on the lake is where I was taking the first shots from and walked from.
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I stayed there for half-hour, having it all by myself. What a luxury. I kept looking at it, camera handy, waiting for the glaciar to grumble and some ice to fall and maybe film that but the grumbling was not that strong. I had some bread and cheddar cream for brunch there while watching it. DSCF2542 (Medium).JPG

When I left, a couple went down from higher up towards the mirador. I started walking back and a guy passed me. I had not seen any of them. The ice block looked different now.

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Walking down on this path. I arrived at the spot where I had been taking long exposure shots and it was full of people. I counted 25 people, then passed 10 more. I was so glad that I had had it all for myself just a few hours before.

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I went back to the campground and unpacked the tent. I took me about 40 minutes to pack the bag, unpack then tent and be ready to go. In the process, I managed to hurt a finger while taking out one of the tent peg. It was very bloody and I had to dig out the first aid
kit and cut myself a band-aid. Long life to first aid kits. Damn tent pegs!!
I left at 1.36pm. Precisely. 🙂 I was impressed to pass 2 people, then 2 more, then 2 more, then 2 more!!! What?? I was not the slowest in the world??!! And they didn`t even have big packs, just small day packs! Hey maybe those 4 days of hiking did good to me. I got into it!  I managed to get back in 2 hours and 45 minutes. For once the map was giving an indication that worked for me.

The views all the way back were very pretty, as every day spent in Los Glaciares National Park and I didn`t see a single paper on the path again, as anty single previous day. What an incredible thing in South America. Here is a mosaic of photos of the walk
back to town.

The highlight of this walk was to see a very pretty rabbit running right in front of me. I took a video of it.

I was back in El Chalten at 4.15pm! Whooohhoooo!!!

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First thing I wanted to do was to find the bakery again and buy lots of treats. I found it.
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And bought lots of these!DSCF2667 (Medium).JPG

I had a thought for Nadine and Marcel as the one thing we had told the woman in store on the morning four days before when we had bought a few things was that the first thing we would do when back in El Chalten would be to come and  buy everything in the store. For sure, I kept my promise! Plus I was really hungry by that time! I had thought about stopping on the way back to have some rice and the rest of the creamy cheddar cheese with it but I had not felt too hungry and mostly eager to be back so for once I had not taken any break and just rushed through without stopping for a food break.

After that, I walked to Aiken Aike hostel nearby where I ran into Sebe when I passed the door. First thing I told him was: “Hi Sebe! Hey I am thinking to catch the 6pm bus. Do you think I could take a shower? Happy to pay for it if you want!” He said “No, no worries, go ahead that’s fine.” Sweet…I asked him also if I could get my computer back and so on
and it was good I saw him at that moment and asked him because he was just about to go play football. So he handed back to me computer, Kindle, memory cards and hard-drive and I dropped that in the small backpack I had left there and rushed into the shower.
Ohhhh…a shower…a hot shower…What a treat!!! Then it was 5pm and I moved everything to a sofa where I started packing my bag in a rush and a huge messy way I had not really done yet. While packing, I was also chatting to James, an guy sitting in the sofa in front of me who was from London, working as a lawyer, living in Stoke Newington and travelling for 2 weeks only. 5.15pm. I said bye to James, shoot off and walked to the bus terminal. I enquired about the bus going to El Calafate with Chalten Travel at 6pm. There were still 12 seats left out of the 60 in the bus. Great. Bought one. I was now 5.30pm. I walked to the cafeteria and bought 3 postcards, a beer and got the WiFi password. My phone was dead so I had to recharge it first but I had just enough time to load the What`s App messages of the past 4 days.  What is the most important when you get out of 4 days in the mountain almost bush camping with just a spot to place your tent and a pit toilets which smells? WiFi? A beer? Grabbing some memories of the place, something to hold to? Food?
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10 minutes later and I was putting my big backpack in this bus and getting on it.
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Most people had already boarded but the last row of seats was free. Yeah. I grabbed the window seat on the right side. As we were going south, that should be a good seat to watch the sunset. I settled in and spent the journey preparing the blog articles about El Chalten hikes. Behind us we could still see the mountains. Bye Fitzroy, bye Poincenot, bye Cerro Torre, bye El Chalten!
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An hour later, they reappeared again, to our right this time, hanging above a lake and part of a much bigger picture of mountains.
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I was worried a bit because my left foot started swelling and being painful. A flashback from breaking it 3 years before. My foot was complaining I had made him walk a bit too much the past 4 days. Two more hours and the pain had gone quiet again.

We arrived in El Calafate at 9pm.

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From the bus station, I walked down stairs and passed some little shops. They were playing a French-speaking song from Stromae!!! In El Calafate. So funny.

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I vaguely remembered that the 3 girls who had got my Merino sport bra and t-shirt that I had forgotten in Bariloche had told me they had left them in the “El Calafate hostel” so I headed there and asked if they had a bed in a dorm and if they had a parcel for me. Here it was. So cool!!!!

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Got a bed in a 4-bed dorm where I met a French girl who was a geologist and had spent 3 weeks in El Chalten collecting samples of earth and soil and had so cool stories to share, another French girl whose boyfriend was Argentinian from Buenos Aires in France and who was travelling around Argentina for a few months and an Argentinian girl from Buenos Aires. Each of them travelling alone too. So cool girls. We had a great evening chatting in the dorm and then cooking and eating some food together.

Next day, let’s go check out the Perito Moreno!!! Yihaa!!