Yesterday Kuba went for a trek to Fitz Roy. Today it’s my turn. You can see the differences from the very start – Kuba turns out on the track at 7 am while I leave at 10.30. Feeding Amelia and organising a day without the mommy takes a while. It’s the first time since very long time that I’m leaving for the whole day.
Kuba walked alone for most of his trek while 10 am seems to be the most popular time to start since there’s 20 more people entering the park with me. My map says that it’s going to take me 4 hours to reach my destination. Add a break for pictures and videos, some rest and the way back and I should wrap it in 9-10hours.
I arrive at the first checkpoint 30 minutes faster than planned. The view is already spectacular so I sit down for 10 minutes and admire it. I don’t want to stay too long as I’m saving the time for a long break after 9 km to enjoy the iceberg view. Yesterday Kuba laughed that this first checkpoint is occupied by old ladies who keep taking pictures feeling proud that they made it here. Well, I respect that since this first part may not be particularly difficult but there are 3 or 4 steep parts which weren’t a piece of cake. The track is easy in general and the views get more and more interesting. I can already see the rocks, I pass a waterfall and keep closing in on the iceberg.
I start on the second part of the track ahead of schedule. The track is pleasant and fast, only the views slow me down making me stop every now and then, look and take pictures. The route changes all the time – I go by the woods, then next to a river or a meadow where the beautifully lit iceberg and Cerro Torre mountain can both be seen amazingly. They look so tempting. I get the feeling that I keep getting closer and soon I will be able to touch them.
The second checkpoint on my track – the lagoon – welcomes me with strong wind and cold. Fleece jacket and a beanie are both required, even though I didn’t need them so far. The iceberg is absolutely beautiful. It looks like a giant frozen lava stream on both sides. And down in the lake, I see various ice formations floating. One of them looks like an ice motorboat. I manage to take a picture of it (see below). I sit down on a stone and reach for the meat empanadas. I eat and can’t get enough of the view. I suddenly look at my watch and can’t believe that I spent 40 minutes reflecting. I stay a little bit longer and decide to move along, as close to the iceberg as possible. At first I wonder if I’m capable, but I feel great after walking 11 km and there’s just 2 more kilometres left to the destination. The track is supposed to get more demanding and rocky but I still decide to give it a try. At this point I’m not thinking about the way back.
I first get surprised when I don’t see anybody else on the track. There were plenty of people walking with me towards the lagoon. Now I see just three more people. We pass each other a few times since I stop more often to take some pictures. We laugh every time they pass me by. At one point I realise that nobody has passed me by for the last 15 minutes. There’s nobody ahead of me and nobody behind me. At first I get happy about it but a moment later an alarm starts ringing in my head – maybe I got lost? There’s no signs on the route to the iceberg since it’s visible all the time and you can decide for yourself which way you want to approach it. After an hour I get very close when the weather suddenly changes. Wind blows harder and harder and I start having problems keeping my balance. That means it’s time go back. I look down and see some people taking pictures a few dozen metres below. I walk towards them thinking that it might be less windy there. It’s not. They tell me to be careful. I take a picture and try to walk down. TRY is a very good way to put it since it’s windy as hell. I won’t be able to walk back the same way as I came up here – on the edge of the mountain with a beautiful view of the iceberg. I walk down a little more hoping for a lighter wind. The wind is still terrible. I try to fight it but lose and get pushed to the rocks all the time. I sit down on larger stones on a few occasions waiting for the quieter moment but there’s not many of these. So I walk from one rock to another. Quite fast as it turns out, even though it feels like eternity. I finally reach the crossroads where I head towards El Chaltén.
The wind is not so strong anymore. I can keep my balance. It’s 4 pm and the sign says that I still have 2.5 hours ahead of me before I reach home. As I’m ahead of schedule again and my energy level is still high, I decide to go the other way and hit the track Kuba went through yesterday. I’ll walk it for 45 minutes and see where I am and how close to the town I get. There’s no signs on the track, but there’s plenty of people walking – all in opposite direction. At some point I ask two ladies with a map if they know where we are and how long is it from here to El Chaltén. They show me the map. It’s awfully far from here and it’s already getting late. I still have to get back home to feed Amelia at night. After 2 km on this track I decide to turn back and return to my initial route. I’m starting to feel my legs begging for rest. Three of us walk together. The ladies ask me where I’m from and laugh when I tell them. It turns out that I’m walking to El Chaltén with two Polish ladies – mother and daughter who live in Chicago. The daughter has been staying in Argentina on student’s exchange since July and the mother came to visit her. We’re having a pleasant chat. We walk together for two hours, they give me some food on the way… It’s the second time I meet Poles in Argentina. We split at some point since they need some rest and I have to hurry to fulfil my maternal duties.
The last part is difficult even though it wasn’t before. That’s because I’m very tired. I walked almost 30 kilometres. But I know I have to be back home for the night feeding time and that motivates me.
Did I make it? – Sure.
What did I found after 10 hours of absence? – Peace and quiet :)
On one hand I regret not taking Amelia with me since 80% of the track would have been a piece of cake. On the other – the last 20 % would have been quite extreme.
Thoughts? – It was amazing. Nature is brilliant. No man could have made that. And the wind that started blowing close to the iceberg intensified on the next day and our cruise to Viedma iceberg was cancelled.