Most of you are probably aware that what focus there was for this trip, was based around tramping (hiking for the non-Kiwis) in Patagonia. I brought all the gear needed for this with me – a sleeping bag, bivvie bag, camping stoves, plates etc. A bivvie bag is a waterproof contraption which houses you and not much else. You can see it in this pic of my camp:The advantage of a bivvie bag is that it is much smaller than a tent. The disadvantage is that they are really unpleasant in heavy rain and my first night was fairly restless as I am a little claustrophobic and I kept thinking I was in a coffin! I’m good with it now and it`s a great way to see the stars on a nice evening.
My first solo tramping mission was slightly more than I had bargained for. It was supposed to be a 2 night/3 day hike over a challenging mountain range. It turns out I took a route which is apparently forbidden (no one told me) and it all got a bit hairy. The basic problem was that the signs for the path were terrible and I spent lots of time scrambling up and down boulders at high altitude with a heavy pack on. To be fair, early on in the second day I made a few assumptions on which way the path went and started trying to make my own way over a peak until I got to a point where I was climbing, not walking, and really struggled to get down. I was like a cat who could get the tree, not down it! It caused a bit of panic I´ll admit but a very slow, undignified descent got me back on levelish ground.
After 10 hours of walking on my second day I was exhausted and not near the official camp so I decided to make camp by a small lake which was high up in the range. The next day I was still massively struggling to find the path when someone called out for me. It was a guide from the camp I was aiming for the night before. In this area each camp has a hut which works like a basic hostel. As I hadn’t arrived the night before, the two camps had been in contact and a guide had come to find me. And a good thing he did cause the final descent, which I had just found, is the most difficult part of the whole walk and not meant to be dome from the direction I took. It had only one very steep path down with a sheer drop off to the left and the right. I arrived safely at the camp and spent the day swimming and chatting to other walkers. The rest of the walk was straightforward and whilst a little shaken it all came off well in the end.
I got great views of Condors on my day of getting lost – they are awesome from a distance because they have such a massive wing span and fly at such great heights but up closer they look less appealing, a bit like vultures.
So lessons learned:
– Don’t think, `fuck it, I can get over that range and find the path later’!
– Have a proper topo map not the one they give to the tourists
The second walk was around a lake just outside of Esquel further South. This is the walk I did with Santiago, a chap I met from Buenos Aires. It was a pretty easy, and not very fulfilling walk, but it was worth it to sleep on the beach under the stars for two nights. And I was able to go fishing! Happy days.