G'day, Scotty checking in.
After getting another glimpse of Southern Patagonia on the Cabo Froward trek, it was time to start the jaunt up North in search of higher peaks and wider valleys.
We left Arturo's (couch surfing accommodation) with warm hearts, and with enthusiasm we began sticking our thumbs out on the side of the roads hoping to score some rides towards El Chaltén, the heart and soul of Patagonia. It took us three days to make the 650km journey, which included a free ride in a cab, hailing down two busses and paying half the normal fee due to no one wanting to pick up three scruffy-looking fellas.
For those three days, we slept on the sides of highways, crossed the border into Argentina by foot on the loneliest of roads and tried to learn some Spanish to distract us from not knowing where the hell we were. The winds, the waiting and our unknown where-a-bouts must have momentarily turned Lachie's head into a raw potato, as after finally scoring a ride for 250km down the highway, the confused vegetable looked at us blankly, asking if we'd seen his passport and phone. So as the sun was beautifully setting over the desert, Pat and I set up camp on the side of a highway and Lachie frantically held up some pesos, desperately searching for a ride back to retrieve his valuables.
16 hours later, the sleep deprived, Lachie, returns with a smile and literally the only things you can't afford to lose whilst travelling. Before we knew it, we had our thumbs out again, keen to get to the mountains.
We made it to El Chaltén that night and had some couch surfing accommodation lined up with an epic dude by the name of Mariano. His tiny but beautiful home welcomed 10 other couchsurfers that night, totalling 13 people sleeping in a house approximately 25m2. We drank red wine with our hosts and fellow travellers late into the night before sneaking in about 4-5 hours of sleep, side by side on the kitchen floor.
Mount Fitz Roy (logo for Patagonia clothing), which resides in El Chaltén, is covered in clouds 80% of the time, making it a game of patience for travellers wishing to catch an epic glimpse of this unique slab of rock. As I wandered outside early that morning, to my bloody surprise, the 3400 metre gnarly peak of Fitz Roy was sticking into the dawn sky with full clarity and amazing beauty. Unwilling to contain my excitement, I shook the fellas from their sleep and told them to whack on their packs. A stop by the supermarket and a five second google weather check and we were on our way to spend three days trekking around one of the most iconic mountains in the world.
The first day was spent utterly gobsmacked by the sheer beauty of the mountain. We also managed to bush bash in reckless Aussie style down to a Glacial Laguna, putting into perspective how tiny we as humans are compared to Pacha Mama herself. It felt f***** great. We camped out for the night a few kilometres away from the base of Fitz Roy and planned a dawn dash up to an alpine lake to catch the first rays of light hit the epic peaks.
We punched out the steep 4km walk at 4 am, making it up to a lake two hours before first light. Over the next three hours, with frozen fingers and ecstatic eyes, we watched in a disbelief and awe as Patagonia put on it's best show yet. It's difficult to describe moments like these. You're sleep deprived, freezing, clumsy from being blown around by 80km gusts of wind and uncomfortably hungry. But, and as words can't portray, we were filled with absolute content. Joy spread through every inch of our bodies as we sat and witnessed Mount Fitz Roy and the neighbouring peaks glow in the golden light. The valleys below shone a picturesque haze of orange and the veins of rivers glowed along with it.
In moments like these you can either complain about wind, moan about your numb fingers, chase pleasure by placing your mind a few hours into the future to think about eating food and relieving your nagging stomach, or, embrace the moment for what it is, right then, right now. Doing this allowed us to feel and experience the astonishing light around us, the unique patterns, the earth-shattering grooves and contours of the mountains, rather than unnecessarily think about trivial things that our minds are conditioned to think about in attempts to distract us from the moment. While this is a hard lesson to learn, and one we certainly have not mastered, it will amplify our experiences and connection with the striking environments we are still yet to explore.
Later that day we continued the hike, passing more lagunas and mountains along the way until we made it to our next campsite at the base of another epic glacier. Early the next morning, we trekked back towards the town in the rain and made it back to Mariano's with wet gear, empty stomachs and warm smiles.
Within 30 minutes of returning back from this epic trek, I checked the weather on Google, and infamously yelled to the fella's ‘Boys, pack ya bags again, we're hitting up the Huemul Circuit tomorrow'.
Stayed tuned, stay lovely, Scotty.