One of the most blissful things about trekking is the amazing amount of energy you expand throughout the day. For someone who loves to eat and drink, being able to eat and drink whatever I wanted and not gain a pound was something truly incredible. Sweets, breads, nuts, cheese were on my mind and eaten with pleasure throughout the day while delightful, homemade Argentine treasures were rapidly consumed at night over a bottle of dry, smooth, aged Malbec. Needless to say, after a long day of trekking out in the elements and an extremely satisfying and filling meal and bottle or two of wine, I instantly dozed off in a deep slumber and slept peacefully (a rare treat for me these days) throughout the night.
The next morning I awoke earlier. Something was different. I couldn’t figure out immediately what it was until I finally got my achy, sore body out of bed and gently pulled open the dark, thick curtains. And there it was…the big, wonderful, glorious sunshine! I was overjoyed to see the sun because I knew only too well what it meant. Excellent, unobstructed views of one of the best hikes in Southern Patagonia! If we got up, inhaled our breakfast and got on our way soon, there would be a good chance we would make it to the crème de la crème, Mount Fitz Roy and see the craggy, jagged ice-capped peak in all its glory. Given the ever changing weather in Patagonia, seeing it or anything is not always possible. In fact, Fabricio said that typically it is only a one in ten shot that the day will be clear when you reach the top, meaning 9 out of 10 unlucky trekkers see absolutely nothing but gray, massive clouds and fog. That would be an enormous disappointment given how many hours it took to reach this remote place and the unlikely chance that I would ever get to see it again. Thus, I was up and ready in a heartbeat and impatiently awaiting our guide’s arrival so we can begin our hike.
The trek to Mount Fitz Roy is not technically difficult. It is just grueling and long, taking eight hours with a short break or two for lunch and rest. I had done long hikes before and found that I really enjoy them. There is something about being in it for the long haul, and challenging your body that gets you in some kind of mysterious bodily rhythm and mindset. Trekking is kind of like running a slow marathon yet better. Not as intense. Not as extreme. Yet, that same kind of exhausting, mind over matter feeling where you somehow enter a zone of deep contemplation and relaxation. For me, hiking is the only sport that does this to me. It brings me far, far away, into areas of my mind and body that have been long sealed up and hidden. It represents some kind of crazy, deep release that makes me feel refreshed and whole once again. There is something about using only your body and being in nature that brings me peace. And the longer the hike, the better.
We reached the start of the trail at half past eight and saw no one. The air was fresh and crisp and there was not a single cloud in the brilliant deep blue sky. I felt an energy and excitement for the day that made me feel truly alive. I couldn’t wait to see the top and be rewarded with a supposedly gorgeous view of a postcard perfect Patagonia. My brain was running wild with thoughts and conversation flowed freely and effortlessly.
The start of the trail:
Day 2 Hike: 8 hour exhausting hike to Mount Fitzroy:
Start of hike, beautiful weather. We lucked out. Not always certain you will see the peaks. In fact, only a one in ten chance:
One of the surprising things about Patagonia is its purity. When I was in New Zealand several years ago, I remember the big advertisement at the time was for “100% Pure New Zealand”. I of course fell head over heels in love with the raw beauty and nature of New Zealand’s South Island yet it never felt as remote and pure to me as Patagonia. Perhaps it was the utter ruggedness and harshness of the landscape and environment that made Patagonia seem so utterly pure. I’m not sure if I can point a finger to exactly why I felt this why but I did. In Patagonia, anything seemed possible. The first time I dipped my empty water bottle into a flowing, glacial river I was extremely hesitant about its safety. Yet my local guide encouraged me to give it a try, stating that it was the purest, freshest, most delicious water in the world. And, it was. I’ll never forget the incredible taste of Patagonian water directly from the source. It was amazing and I could drink it forever. Water in park is so pure, we used it to refill our water bottles getting drinking water directly from the streams and glacial lakes (burr…cold sticking your hand in but hugely rewarding for the effort). Here is a picture of the rock landscape protecting the rapidly flowing glacial river with delicious drinking water abound:
As we climbed further along the empty trail, we suddenly saw a glimpse of our destination. Here is a view of Mount Fitz Roy through the thick beech forest:
Small glacier pouring out of the mountains:
We were indeed truly lucky as the weather remained picture perfect clear. Not a single cloud had arrived into the sky to mess things up. What a miracle! We knew that they last eight consecutive days on the trail had been misty and full of fog. To hike eight hours and not see a thing would be a huge disappointment!
On the approach to the top and our much deserved picnic lunch:
Heading up through the snow:
The breathtaking approach of Mt. Fitz Roy:
View of where we started below:
At the top—wow, did we luck out on the clear sky. Only 1 out of 10 days like this in Patagonia! And no wind!!!! (there is a lot of wind, and there is mucho mucho mucho viento as they say here):
Wow….what a place for a picnic:
Strange patagonian clouds:
Almost home…one last look:
One of our great drinking holes: