It is considerably a long time since we both did a full camping trek. Fifteen years in fact. On this trek we would be carrying all our camping clobber, fuel and food in, plus all our rubbish out. The last time we did this was in Vancouver island and over time had forgotten just how quickly this all mounts up….
Some things are sacrosanct and I was not about to adopt pant-turning ‘boy’ tactics to save on weight. However, happily I conceded on the one walking plus one sleeping set of thermals only and limit the amount of other clothes I would carry…. and ‘girly’ products. With military precision Matt weighed out our trekkers breakie of porridge and dried milk and selected our special de-hy curries – after much research (natch) Matt had found a really good one by Kudrati according to reviews. Pasta, carefully weighed, marmite decanted, risotto rice bagged and an assortment of energy and fruit bars were counted out and a menu agreed.
By the time a first aid kit, tent, stoves (what if one failed?) sleeping bags and ‘Thermarest’s were added we both realised we would be carrying 5kg more, each, than we would have liked to. After all, we were already carrying a few too many kilos around our midriff, thanks to generous helpings of food and wine at home.
After a tasty snackette of empanadas (they were becoming quite addictive!) we set off for Campamento De Agostini, our first night’s camping spot. We were amazed just how quickly we were rewarded for our efforts with the mountains came into view within an hour of being on the trail; something we had never experienced before.
We now understood the obligatory stop at Parque Nacional Los Glaciares office on the way to El Chalten for a briefing by one of the park’s rangers on managing the park and conduct within. Andrea’s passion and pride was evident as she explained the importance of responsible trekking, right down to why animals weren’t allowed in (transmitting of diseases) and how trekking poles can aid soil erosion in arid areas. Not something we had considered before. With so many day walkers and trekkers on the trails, they didn’t want to spend their time cleaning up after careless individuals.
Trails twisted up and through the mountain slopes and we walked in the shade of lenga forests, across open scrubland and along marshland dotted with bogwood oak. All were easy to follow seriously well maintained.
It wasn’t long before we caught a glimpse of both Cerres Sol and Cerro Torres through the mist and low laying clouds. The bad boy that taunts climbers, Fitz Roy, was tucked away out of sight. Something for later. Named after Capt Fitzroy, the skipper of Charles Darwin’s ‘Beagle‘, who navigated Darwin’s expedition up the Rio Santa Cruz in the 1930’s, Monte Fitz Roy stands shark toothed at the crown of this range of mountains.
Grateful that we didn’t have particularly great weather and perfect views to distract us too much, we plodded on with the lure of a fresh cuppa by the shores of Rio Fitz Roy calling us.
We made camp and friends with a lad from Minnesota, Dillon, who joined us for a warming cup of soup pre supper and later curry- dhal makani style. With rain drizzling down, we all reckoned our chances of seeing a sunrise over Cerro Torres was not looking likely.
The sounds of the river sent us to sleep, one full of dreams of big mountains and cheeky glasses of wine.