roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz


29 Mar 2009 - 4:41:05 PM
Villa Gesell

Well, I bit the bullet and bought another camera in Mar del Plata. Re-took pictures of the local lighthouse there, then left for the much smaller beach town of Villa Gesell, mainly because there's another lighthouse near there. Signed up for a little tour to it that included a sandboarding stop and access up to the top of the lighthouse. Unfortunately, I was surrounded by thieving Argentines the whole trip. They all were glancing furtively at my camera and daypack the entire time, looking for any opportunity to rob me blind. About half way there, one of them leaned over, tapped my pack, and rasped, "Eh, gringo. ¿Qué cosas tienes?"

"Nada," I said, clutching my daypack to my chest. "No tengo nada."

No pictures of me sandboarding. Those thieving Argentines were practically pushing each other out of the way asking me if I wanted them to take my picture, but I knew if I naively handed over my camera to any of them, it would be the last time I'd see it. Anyway, the dunes weren't too high, so the sandboard rides were pretty short, but they were entertaining.

The lighthouse was pretty cool. Tall, with well over 200 stairs spiralling up the walls to the top. Nice little workout.

sand grass
Grass growing in the sand -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

dune's edge
Top of the dune, with wind -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

Faro Querandi
Faro Querandí -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

looking up
Outside the lighthouse, looking up -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

spiral stairs
Inside the lighthouse, looking up -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

lighthouse shadow
The view from the top of the lighthouse was pretty nice. This is its shadow stretching across the vegetation to the sand. Villa Gesell, Argentina

lens
There was a hole in the not-so-clear lantern room glass, so I put my camera up to it to get a shot of the lens -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

looking down
Here's a perspective you don't see too often: from outside the lantern room, looking down -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

light and stairs
Back inside, looking up at light coming in from one of the little windows -- Villa Gesell, Argentina

I somehow made it back with all my things. Ha! Take that, you thieving Argentines! (Ah, I think I'm going to enjoy this new little theme to my blog posts...) My next major destination is Buenos Aires, but there are three more lighthouses nearby for me to visit first. Gotta make up for lost lighthouses, I guess.

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26 Mar 2009 - 5:42:06 PM
"Argentina" is Spanish for "Land of Thieves"

Okay, here's a bit of a rant. Nowhere else in the world have I had as many things stolen from me as I have in Argentina. First, in a hostel in Bariloche, I accidentally left a pair of pants on a "vacant" bed. I was moving from a top bunk to a bottom bunk and thought I had moved all my things from the top bunk, but as it turned out I'd moved all but my pair of Gramicci pants that for some reason I only seemed to wear when traveling. So yeah, after the cleaning staff came through and cleaned up the vacated bed, they took the pants, too. At first I thought it'd be in lost and found, but no, they just took them. The stuff that was on my new bed was fine. Not such a huge deal, but it was annoying.

Today, though, I visited Laguna de los Padres, a lake that turned out to be a very family-oriented place -- several families about having picnics or fishing or paddling about the lake on rented canoes. The kind of place where you'd think the people wouldn't steal other people's stuff. Anyway, I took a couple pictures of the lake because I had to walk four or five kilometers to it, and then I thought I put the camera back in my daypack. I walked into the store there, bought a Pepsi, went back out and sat by the lake. When I finished the drink, I picked up my pack and a weird feeling came over me. I checked my pack, and there was no camera. WTF? I went back into the store and asked if I'd left the camera there, but they hadn't seen it. The woman working there said the usual thing I hear from Argentinians -- Argentinians are bad people. I used to laugh it off, but now, sadly, I have to concede that it's true. Two cars had left between me taking pictures of the lake and realizing my camera was gone, and so either one of them had my camera in it, or the store staff had snagged it and were exceptional actors when it came to hiding guilt. I spent half an hour walking around re-tracing my steps, and it was nowhere to be seen. The area was very small -- The 3-5 minutes I was in the store waiting for someone to show up and sell me a soda was plenty of time for someone to see my camera on the picnic table, walk over, grab it, and walk back.

So yeah, the last three days of Torres del Paine (not the sunrise pics, fortunately), the penguins, Tierra del Fuego, four lighthouses, several hat pics -- all gone. Bastards.

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26 Mar 2009 - 8:08:13 AM
Tierra del Fuego -- by sea

I took a little boat trip from Ushuaia out into the Beagle Channel and saw a bunch of birds and sea lions and fur seals and a lighthouse. The weather was basically perfect, if a little windy of course (it's always windy down there). Ended up on the Barracuda, the first tourist boat plying the seas outside of Ushuaia. Hasn't sunk yet.

cerro and glaciar martial
View from the boat of Cerro and Glaciar Martial rising above Ushuaia -- Ushuaia, Argentina

cormorants and mountain
First island we came to, chock full of cormorants -- Ushuaia, Argentina

sea lions
Second island we came to was packed with sea lions and fur seals. They don't play nicely together. Ushuaia, Argentina

more cormorants
More cormorants -- Ushuaia, Argentina

more sea lions
More sea lions -- Ushuaia, Argentina

Les Eclaireurs lighthouse
Les Eclaireurs lighthouse -- Ushuaia, Argentina

So yeah, that was basically it for Ushuaia for me. The next morning started all rainy, but then it completely cleared up in time for me to fly away to Mar del Plata.

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25 Mar 2009 - 9:42:30 AM
Tierra del Fuego -- by land

So, I'm actually no longer in Tierra del Fuego. I flew to Mar del Plata a couple days ago, and it's nice and warm here. I'm sure I'll get tired of the beach pretty soon, but at the moment I'm enjoying it.

I didn't quite spend as long in Ushuaia as I originally thought I would. One more day would've been nice, but flights out that day were either non-existant or too expensive, and I didn't really want to spend two more days there. Picky, picky, picky. Anyway, the southern part of Tierra del Fuego is quite impressive -- jagged peaks, green valleys, lakes, and glaciers. And wind and rain and sun. I wanted to cross the Beagle Channel back in to Chile, but the transport costs are just ridiculous; Argentina really wants Ushuaia to be the End of the World. But I got in a day of hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park, spent an afternoon on the Beagle Channel, and walked up and down the same streets over and over again for various reasons. Got a little tired of walking those streets.

Cerro Guanaco
The summit of Cerro Guanaco, a fine but steep and muddy hike in Tierra del Fuego -- Ushuaia, Argentina

bay view
View of a bay of the Beagle Channel from Cerro Guanaco -- Ushuaia, Argentina

Lago Roca
View of Lago Roca from Cerro Guanaco -- Ushuaia, Argentina

me on cerro guanaco
Me being all happy that I'm on top of Cerro Guanaco -- Ushuaia, Argentina

dancing in the street
Outdoor dancing, Sunday afternoon -- Ushuaia, Argentina

pretty mountains
Pretty mountains to the east of town -- Ushuaia, Argentina

A couple things have happened recently, both happy and sad, that have made me a little homesick. The happy one is MSG150 is back on the lunch wagon! I hope they'll still be going by the time I return because I do enjoy being a part of the lunch crew (and thanks for the link love, Adam!).

The sad one is a woman in my building just passed away. The news was very sudden and shocking. I'll miss you, Dee! Sorry I won't be at the memorial service.

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20 Mar 2009 - 1:23:41 PM
Penguins!

So I saw a bunch of penguins the other day when I was hanging out in Punta Arenas, Chile. I would go on and on about the trip, like how a third of the boat got seasick on the last half of the boat ride, but I'm just not in the mood right now. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, instead.

rob and penguins
Me hanging with my new penguin friends -- Isla Magdalena, Chile

three penguins
Three penguins -- Isla Magdalena, Chile

penguin hill
Isla Magdalena Heights, where the well-heeled penguins nest -- Isla Magdalena, Chile

five penguins
Five penguins -- Isla Magdalena, Chile

one penguin
Penguin close-up -- Isla Magdalena, Chile

penguins and lighthouse
Penguins and lighthouse -- Isla Magdalena, Chile

Well, there you go. At the moment I'm in Ushuaia, Argentina, trying to figure out when I'll leave. Maybe the 23rd. Need to look into plane flights.

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18 Mar 2009 - 2:11:21 PM
Torres del Paine: Tales of Terror -- The Pass!

Day 7: Woke up to pouring rain and a little bit of a wet tent. The geniuses at Marmot for some reason designed a rain fly that doesn't quite cover their tent, and so if something like the sleeve of your puffy jacket ends up touching the tent wall then it just pulls in the water. Anyway, I decided to hang out in the refugio for a bit, amusing myself by watching the other trekkers pack up, put on all their wet weather gear, and head out into the rain. Around noon, the rain abated and a bit of sun made a brief appearance. Packed my bag (a Marmot pack, which was pretty nice, to give Marmot their due) and walked sort of as fast as I could to Campamento Los Perros -- it was pretty cold out and walking kept me warm. But at least it had stopped raining. Los Perros was fairly crowded with tents because the blizzard-like weather up at the pass kept almost everyone in camp for an extra day. After settling in, I took a cool side trip to the Puma Glacier. There is no terminal lake, so you can just walk right up and touch your tongue to it.

puma glacier
Puma Glacier -- Torres del Paine, Chile

puma terminal cave
Terminal cave of the Puma Glacier -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Day 8: Woke up to great weather. Yay! Had a comparatively leisurely breakfast, then packed up and started hiking to the pass. The pass comes in several flavors: in good weather it's an easy hike with a strong wind right at the pass, in mediocre weather there's really strong wind, and in crappy weather the whole thing is just horrible. Yesterday was flavor #3, with knee-deep snow, crazy wind, and basically no visibility. This day was flavor #1, and I was very grateful for it. It's not a difficult hike, it's just the wind and the weather that can get you. There are some very muddy bits, but they are more annoying than difficult. So yeah, I went up and over and enjoyed a ginormous view of the Grey Glacier. The hike to Campamento Paso and half way to Campamento Las Guardas was just spectacular view and spectacular view. Made it to Refugio Grey with enough time for a shower before they served dinner.

looking back
The view back down the valley as I hiked up toward John Gardner Pass -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Cerro and Glaciar Amistad
There's a great view of Cerro and Glaciar Amistad as you approach the pass -- Torres del Paine, Chile

looking back again
Another look back down the valley from just below the pass -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Glacier Grey, north
Northern part of Glacier Grey from viewpoint just after the pass -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Glacier Grey, south
Southern part of Glacier Grey from viewpoint just after the pass -- Torres del Paine, Chile

twin peaks
Couple cool-looking peaks north of the pass -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Day 9: Woke up to light rain. No wind, either, so the rain never went away until half-way back to Puerto Natales on the bus. Got pretty wet on the hike back to Refugio Paine Grande, even with all my rain gear on. But I didn't mind because I was thinking about a long hot shower and a comfortable bed back in town.

Ah, Torres del Paine. A definite highlight.

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18 Mar 2009 - 8:46:30 AM
Torres del Paine: WO is me

My third night in the Torres I found out that you can rent tents on the Circuit, as well, and so with my knee now feeling better, I was very tempted to just keep going. As it turns out, people love the letter descriptions of the Torres del Paine hiking routes that the circuit is called the O. To be even more annoying, the slightly extended circuit when hiking out from Refugio Paine Grande south to the Administration building is called the Q. I didn't feel compelled to do the WQ, though -- the WO would be good enough.

Day 4: This was a transit day, basically, going from Refugio Los Cuernos to Refugio Chileno. Mostly uneventful, but there was a thought-provoking river crossing where I ended up taking off my boots and wading across in my socks. Fortunately I had a dry pair in my pack. And then heading up Valle de Ascensio was quite beautiful -- you come up around a bend in the trail and there's a huge river valley stretching out before you. What else? It had rained the third night, but during the day it was great. How long would my luck with the weather last?

los cuernos
Another view of Los Cuernos -- Principal and Este -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Valle Ascensio
Valle Ascensio -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Day 5: I decided to be ambitious this day and hike up to the Torres viewpoint for the sunrise, which meant waking up at 5:00 a.m. and walking up with a headlamp. Ugh. I actually turned back briefly at one point because it was all cloudy, but then a big sucker hole opened up and I could see stars in half the sky. Of course, I'm a big sucker and kept going. By the time I reached Campamento Las Torres it had clouded up again. But I went up to the viewpoint anyway, and it was actually not too bad. The Torres were in mist, but the postcard-red sunrise light splashed across the rock below and to the right of them, framing them pretty well. After the sun climbed higher, and mist and clouds eventually cleared up, and it was just plain beautiful. And the wind kicked in. Brr.

torres sunrise
Sunrise at the Torres -- Sur, Central, and Norte -- Torres del Paine, Chile

torres on fire
The Torres with their peaks on fire -- Torres del Paine, Chile

all the torres
The Torres all lit up, and Lago Torres below them (not lit up, but oh well...) -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Then I hiked down to Hosteria and Refugio Las Torres, where I bought some more food, hung out with some trekking friends, and then hit the trail again, to Campamento Serón. The weather forecast called for rain the next day, but I figured I'd just go and see what happens. I could also hike back out, and the weather forecasts in the Torres are mostly unreliable.

Day 6: In the morning, half the sky was all clouded up (the half where it looked like I was heading) and half the sky was clear. The clouds also covered up the view of the other side of the Torres. Alas. I hit the trail, expecting some rain, but the clouds stayed over the mountains, and the valley I passed through was windy but mostly sunny. Nice. Trail was mostly flat, too, with one or two uphills -- a nice break from the long fifth day. Got to Refugio Dickson at 3:30, which made me think about continuing on the Campamento Los Perros (another three hours on), but then the weather started to deteriorate. Only regret was I didn't stay inside the refugio. It poured down rain most of the night, and it would've been so much nicer in a bed than in a tent. Plus the beds at Dickson were cheaper than the other refugios, so it was basically the same price as renting a tent, which I didn't find out until the following morning, unfortunately. Next time I hike the circuit I'll know better...

bad-ass bird
Two of these birds were sauntering along the trail to Dickson. I gave them plenty of room. Torres del Paine, Chile

trail to dickson
The first half of the circuit trail is a lot different from the W. Very rural and flat with big, wide rivers and occasional cows. Torres del Paine, Chile

owl
This owl was hanging out on the trail, and flew up into a nearby tree to pose for photos when I approached -- Torres del Paine, Chile

view from dickson
View of the mountains from Refugio Dickson. There's a cool-looking, gray amphitheater, and the black peak immediately to the right is Cerro Cabeza del Indo. If you drink a few cervezas, the left ridgeline starts to look like a face. Torres del Paine, Chile

Well, only one more post and then I'm done with the Torres. I'll try to get that done today after running a few errands here in Punta Arenas.

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17 Mar 2009 - 12:41:21 PM
Torres del Paine: Doing the W

Well, let's see. I ended up spending a lot more time trekking in Torres del Paine than I originally expected. When I started out, my knee was still sore from El Chaltén, and so I didn't want to carry too much weight -- figured I'd rent tents from the refugios in the park and have dinner and breakfast at them, as well. A bit spendy, but it meant a much lighter pack. So yeah, I took it pretty slowly the first two days, and on the third, my knee felt all normal again. Yay!

So, this "W" business. This is the trail that most people hike when visiting the Torres. It's called that because the trail is roughly W shaped. The left goes up to Glacier Grey, the middle goes up Valle del Frances, the right goes up to the Torres, and they're all connected along the bottom. It kind of helps to see it on a map. You can hike it in either direction. The first day it was a little cloudy over the mountains, so I opted for west-to-east because I didn't was a clouded view of the Torres. Of course, it cleared up as I hiked. Doh!

Day 1: Took the catamaran to Refugio Paine Grande and slowly hiked along Lago Grey up to Refugio Grey, with various views of Glacier Grey. Sunny but windy. The lake has little icebergs in it from the glacier, and they're all herded into various coves by the wind.

windy mirador
It was very windy at the first Glacier Grey viewpoint -- Torres del Paine, Chile

glacier grey, east arm
The east arm of Glacier Gray, with all the calved bits blown to the end of this corner of Lake Grey -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Day 2: Went up to the next big lookout over Glacier Grey in the morning before the slow hike back to Paine Grande. The trail was pretty quiet until I hit the ferry traffic -- all the trekkers who got off the catamaran and were hiking up to the glacier, just like I did the previous day. At Refugio Paine Grande, I left my pack and went further along the trail a short distance to get a slightly better view of the Cuernos.

crevasses
Close-up of Glacier Grey crevasses -- Torres del Paine, Chile

glacier grey
Glacier Grey -- Torres del Paine, Chile

glacier grey, east arm
The end of the east arm of Glacier Gray -- Torres del Paine, Chile

los cuernos
Two of the Cuernos: Cuerno Norte and Cuerno Principal -- Torres del Paine, Chile

the moon and the cuernos
Moonrise next to Los Cuernos -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Day 3: This would be a long day, hiking up the Valle del Frances, back down, and over to Refugio Los Cuernos. Started off slowly, and the knee felt fine. Progressively speeded things up a bit as the day wore on, and the knee still felt fine. Had absolutely perfect weather this day -- not a cloud in the sky while at the Valle del Frances viewpoint. Awesome. I love being in the middle of a gorgeous cirque of mountains.

Paine Grande
Cerro Paine Grande, featuring the Glacier Frances -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Paine Grande Peak
One of the peaks on Cerro Paine Grande -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Valle del Frances, west
Looking west in the Valle del Frances: Cerro Castillo and Cerro Catedral -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Valle del Frances, east
Looking east in the Valle del Frances: Cerros Espada, Hoja, Mascara and Cuerno Norte -- Torres del Paine, Chile

weary rob
Me on the shore of Lago Nordenskjold after a long day of hiking -- Torres del Paine, Chile

Looks like I'll have to break this up into three parts. Hopefully I'll get them done soon because I just visited Isla Magdalena this morning and took a bazillion pictures of penguins. Yay, penguins!

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5 Mar 2009 - 2:22:58 PM
El Calafate

I'm on a roll! Three posts in one day -- woo hoo! The roblog trifecta, if you will. Anyway, I've been in El Calafate the past couple days and went to the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier yesterday. The weather ended up kind of lame, but the glacier didn't seem to care. I think the colder temps kept the ice more stable than usual during the day, but I did manage to see one small serac calve off and crash into the lake. So, yeah, the glacier is something like 5 km wide and 14 km long. Here are some pics.

Perito Moreno Glacier, south face
South face of the Perito Moreno Glacier from the balconies -- El Calafate, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, middle face
Middle face of the Perito Moreno Glacier from the balconies -- El Calafate, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, north face
North face of the Perito Moreno Glacier from the balconies -- El Calafate, Argentina

gap where the ice bridge used to be
View from the south face boat ride of the gap where the ice bridge used to be. As you can see, the weather was not so great, but it gave this picture a very other-worldly appearance, which I quite like. El Calafate, Argentina

And that's it for now. I'm going to give my fingers a rest until after I'm done trekking in Torres del Paine.

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5 Mar 2009 - 2:03:34 PM
Catching up #3: Three Hikes around El Chaltén

I spent most of my time in El Chaltén hiking -- Laguna Torre, Laguna de los Tres (1.5 times -- I turned back the first time because the weather sucked, but made it out the next day when the weather was perfect), and Loma del Pliegue. If I'd had a tent I would've done spent more time in the mountains and gone to some different spots, as well.

The hike to Laguna Torre, with a great view of Cerro Torre, is the easiest of the three. Slightly uphill in the beginning and then basically flat the rest of the way up the river valley. Three hours to the lake if you take your time. You can spend another hour skipping along the east morraine to a better view of the glacier.

marsh walkway
I thought the wooden walkways across this bit of marsh were especially photogenic -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Laguna Torre
Laguna Torre at the end of the Grande Glacier -- El Chaltén, Argentina

pretty ridgeline
The mountains up and to the left of the lake: Cerro Grande, Cerro Doblado, Cerro Ñato, Cordón Abela -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Cerro Torre
One of the hardest mountains in the world to climb -- Cerro Torre, Argentina

The trail to Laguna de los Tres isn't as bad as people say. It's harder than the Laguna Torre trail, but that's because it has a decent uphill section at the end. The trail's good, though. If the weather's bad then this section would be a pain, plus the lake will be insanely windy, so go when the weather's good. Anyway, up at the lake it's pretty spectacular. Fitz Roy is right there, and you can head out to the left side of the lake for a cool view of Laguna Sucia down below. If you only have time for one hike in the area, do this one.

Piedras Blancas Glacier
The Piedras Blancas Glacier. There's a trail that branches off to this glacier and its lake, but I didn't have time to head over, unfortunately. El Chaltén, Argentina

Fitz Roy and Poincenot
Fitz Roy (right) and Poincenot (left) -- Cerro Fitz Roy, Argentina

Fitz Roy and Laguna de los Tres
Fitz Roy towering over Laguna de los Tres. The composition of this picture isn't perfect, but oh well. Cerro Fitz Roy, Argentina

Laguna Sucia
Laguna Sucia -- El Chaltén, Argentina

trail bird
Very non-timid bird digging for dinner by the trail during my hike out -- El Chaltén, Argentina

The last hike I did, Loma del Pliegue, was to the top of a little mountain that had a cool view of most of the Fitz Roy range. First part of the trail is a little boring -- hiking through a pastoral area and then uphill through a forest (with the best water source, IMHO) -- but then you get to a pretty cool meadow, which turns into a gently rolling rocky area that is kinda out of this world. The yellow/red rocks give a bit of a Martian landscape, with a spot or two where the rocks are sunk into the porous, vaguely spongy ground, giving it a mosaic tile look. There's a marked trail up to a viewpoint just beneath the summit, and then you have to just head uphill in the middle (or just left of middle) of the face and hope you find where a scant trail starts again about half way up. I got lucky with the weather -- although it was fairly chilly at top, there was very little wind, and I had sun all day.

trail pastorale
The first part of the trail passes through what feels like grazing land, complete with lowing cows, and the occasional pretty bit like this -- El Chaltén, Argentina

scree stream
Stream from nowhere coming out of the scree -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Cerro Huemul
The impressive Cerro Huemul -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Loma del Pliegue
Looking up to Loma del Pliegue from the saddle -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Cerro Grande
The impressive Cerro Grande -- El Chaltén, Argentina

great view
Awesome view from the top of Loma del Pliegue: Cerro Solo, Cerro Torre, Cerro Fitz Roy, and Laguna Torre -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Well, that was a lot of pictures. And I'm basically caught up, finally. Just need one more post about the Perito Moreno Glacier which I visited yesterday. Then I'll be off to Chile once again, to Puerto Natales and some trekking in and around the Torres del Paine. Hopefully that won't be too much of a "Paine." Ha! I'm so funny.

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5 Mar 2009 - 8:56:29 AM
Catching up #2: Do you know the way to El Chaltén?

So where was I? Right, Coyhaique. There a couple ways to get to El Chaltén from there. The easier option is to bus it to Puerto Ibañez, take the ferry to Chile Chico, hop on the micro to Los Antiguos, Argentina, then board the overnight bus from there. The more adventurous option is to go all the way to the end of the road in Chile at Villa O'Higgins by increasingly sparse buses or by hitchhiking, then take a ferry, do a bunch of walking to another lake, and eventually grab a shuttle to El Chaltén. I went with the former.

I had been thinking about doing a trek around and about Cerro Castillo, but decided to just make a beeline for the south. The clear beautiful morning view of Cerro Castillo from the bus, however, made me wish I'd headed to hills. Ah well.

Cerro Castillo
Cerro Castillo from the bus -- Cerro Castillo, Chile

The ferry from Puerto Ibañez actually left right on time at 10:00 a.m. It was pretty windy on the lake, but the views were quite nice.

ferry to Chile Chico
The ferry to Chile Chico -- Puerto Ibañez, Chile

ferry view
View from the ferry of Cerro Castillo. On a clear day (like I had) you can see this mountain all the way from Chile Chico. Lago General Carrera, Chile

wind + water
In this one spot, the wind was strong enough to blow water from the lake into the air -- Lago General Carrera, Chile

Moments after getting off the boat in Chile Chico I was in a micro barreling towards the border, and then I was in Los Antiguos, Argentina, waiting for the overnight bus. I seem to have bad luck with bus seats, though. I had a window on the right side, which turned out to be the much less scenic side, with the direct afternoon sun shining on me. The bus was about half full, and before I realized my situation, all the window seats on the left side were taken. Ah well. So instead of seeing all the cool rock formations (it hurt to just bus right by Cueva de los Manos -- next time, I guess), all I saw was stuff like this:

scrubland
My view from the Ruta 40 bus -- south of Perito Moreno, Argentina

Anyway, I made it to El Chaltén about 22 hours after leaving Coyhaique. Got off the bus and it was cold, dark, and drizzly. Why did I leave sunny Coyhaique, again? While I slept for a bit in the hostel, the weather obligingly cleared up. So yeah, that made me feel better. And then I saw Fitz Roy towering over the town, and that made me feel great.

El Chaltén is an odd little town. It's tiny, and there are a lot of new small buildings under construction. In a couple years, the number of buildings will probably increase by half, or maybe even double. It's all about outdoor activities here: hiking, climbing, glacier fun, biking, etc. Some people stay for two days to do the two main hikes, others stay for weeks to climb and trek. I didn't get any climbing in, unfortunately -- the weather was a bit iffy for a few days, and my knee was sore from hiking on other days. But it was a good time. Lots of decent to great restaurants in El Chaltén. Estepa (my favorite), La Senyera, Fuegia, maybe El Muro if not for their food then for their outdoor climbing wall. And of course La Cerveceria, which unfortunately ran out of their beer the day before I left -- the horror, the horror.

El Chalten
View of town from the Laguna Torre trail -- El Chaltén, Argentina

El Chalten
View of town from the Loma del Pliegue trail -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Fitz Roy
Mt Fitz Roy looming over the town -- El Chaltén, Argentina

my new friend
I made a new friend my first day in town at the restaurant La Senyera -- El Chaltén, Argentina

Whew! That's it for now. I'll work on #3 tonight, and then I should be all caught up.

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