It’s like when a gun shows up in an early act of a play, you know it will fire before the curtain closes. So when Mount Fitz Roy blew my mind from the plane ride into Patagonia, I should have known I would inevitably find myself at the base of this holy formation.
When my plans to ride the ferry up through Chilean fjords fell through I made new plans to travel to Argentina and the beautiful Fitz Roy basecamp town of El Chaltén. But it would take some work to get there…
On the Monday after the hell of Torres del Paine I woke up after a full night of warm, dry rest and just incredibly thankful for the little luxuries in life. The day before, I had hung my tent and sleeping bag up to dry in the sun out back of Hostel Last Hope and went to dinner with a group of six new friends to a local spot serving steaks and fish ‘a la pobre’ — piled high with papas fritas, caramelized onions and sunny eggs. Everyone guzzled beers and went home smiling and exhausted. I slept deeply and all through the night for the first time in too many days.
I woke up early out of habit and had breakfast and sat around the hostel enjoying the warmth and dryness. It’s really the simplest things that bring me joy today.
After booking a bus ticket to El Calafate, Argentina (a necessary relay point to El Chaltén) for tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m., I sit and recount the weekend’s misadventures with everyone at the hostel. All of us had finished the hike recently and had similar stories. Some other new faces were about to leave for the park and asked us questions about what to bring and what to expect. (The worst…)
I spent the day aimlessly wandering Puerto Natales and relaxing in the common area of Hostel Last Hope, watching Arrested Development with strangers from around the globe and then cooking myself dinner. It was a lovely day of nothing, and much needed.
Tuesday morning I finally start the multi-bus journey to El Chaltén in Argentina, a small backpacking town at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. I’m incredibly excited to see the staggering peaks and continue my stay here — though I’m convinced that Patagonia is a misanthrope and these mountains care little for people and would be perfectly happy to never have another human foot step foot in its brutal terrain ever again.
The weather is supposed to be clear and sunny for my stay in Argentina and I’m optimistic — but leaving room for disappointment and even pain and suffering, a necessary tactic in Torres del Paine as well.
After a five-hour bus ride, five-hour layover in the cute little touristy town and another three-hour bus I finally check into a hostel in El Chaltén — well after dark. I’ve made plans with a few others I met in Torres del Paine to go for a day hike to see the mountains early in the morning.
This town is incredible, you can walk out the front door of your hostel and be at a trailhead within minutes.
After 9 km of easy hiking with spectacular views we finally get to the steep section that leads to snow-packed stone trails up the side of a mountain — and then to the most incredible view of Fitz Roy and the range of surrounding mountains.
We eat lunch and bask in the mountain’s presence. The sky is big and blue, barely a cloud in sight. What luck! Some adventurers are climbing the mountain on skis and sailing down.
This is just one of many trails from the town and after a long day of hiking, about 25 km, we sleep hard and wake early to repeat the feat.
The next day’s trails are just as spectacular, with new views of the surrounding lakes and then of course, new stunning views of Fitz Roy.
The next day I have to catch a bus back to El Calafate and begin to undo all the traveling, little by little, in order to catch a plane back to Peru. I’m on my way to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. I am sad to leave Patagonia, but excited for a new adventure.
See you in Peru campers!