Forecast: Mostly Sunny

Sometimes St. Peter is just not fair. The two days we spent in El Calafate and at the Perito Moreno glacier were incredibly sunny and beautiful. Not a single cloud to be seen in the skies. Then our drive over to El Chalten on Tuesday was like a giant postcard viewing of Patagonia: deep blue skies, glistening sun and incredible views of Mount Fitz Roy and the Cerro Torre. The whole parque glaciar was completely free of clouds, which happens very rarely.

Taking advantage of the good weather, we drove to the Lago del Desierto in the afternoon which is at a dead-end road in a valley leading straight into Chile. (Up until a few decades ago Argentina and Chile still had skirmishes in this region about the exact location of the border. In 1965 a Chilean gendarme even died when an Argentinean patrol came across him and a few of his subordinates near El Chalten. Or as the Argentineans put it in the commemorative plaque: “…dejando de existir poco después…” meaning literally “…he stopped existing shortly after that…”.)

Nowadays though these border disputes seem to have been laid to rest as the tourists have taken full control of the area. El Chalten, which was only built in 1985 as a police outpost, has exploded in the past two decades and with every year it seems another hostel and another restaurant pops up. (We know this not only from the people in town but also thanks to our guide books which are both from 2004 and have only about a third of the places listed that exist nowadays. The prices are also not reliable anymore – everything has at least trippled in the last 6 years.) Luckily the beauty of the area hasn’t diminished:

After the Laguna del Desierto (seen above) we hiked up to the Huemul glacier, one of many in the surrounding mountains. The sun was almost blinding up there with the lake and ice on top:

We could even see the Cerro Torre and the Fitz Roy again from there, it truly was a picture-book day:

So really, we shouldn’t have been surprised that St. Peter had other plans for the next day. On Wednesday morning we woke up early to grey clouds and cold winds. But we tried to put a good spin on things: at least it wasn’t raining and the clouds were pretty high so we might still get a good view. We were hiking to the Laguna de Los Tres, a lake at the base of Fitz Roy and so named in honor of the three French men who climbed the mountain for the first time in the 1952.

It all started well enough and we even appreciated the clouds a little because it meant that the sun wasn’t beating down on us. But just as we had finished the first part of the hike (the easy part which goes through woods and along mostly level terrain) and came out into the river bed to start the much tougher climb on the other side, rain drops began splattering onto the rocks around us. From that point on until we reached our hostel again a few hours later, the rain never got worse than a strong drizzle but it didn’t let up once. Which means this is the view we got at the top of the Laguna de los Tres:

But sometimes you need a crappy day like that to make you appreciate the beautiful ones even more. It took us three hours to reach the Laguna de los Tres and only two to make it back to town, thanks to the brisk pace set by our iPods. Back in El Chalten we rewarded ourselves with a waffle topped with calafate jam at La Wafleria and mint hot chocolate. The best cure for rainy days and blistered feet.

2 Responses to “Forecast: Mostly Sunny”

  1. giulia says:

    i made it!!!!!!!
    uhhhhhh i really wish i was there with you!!!! 🙁
    conor did you take the pics of did nora…..they are really good!!!!!!
    baci and promise i will keep on reading ur adventures only if next time i can come 2!!!!!!!

  2. Nora says:

    Woohoo – our first comment!!! Gracias Giu! :))) The photos are a collaboration but all the panorama shots are definitely Conor. Jejeje.

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