Patagonia Day 3: Laguna de los Tres Hike

Our itinerary for the first day in El Chalten, Argentina was to do a point-to-point hike that would take us to a lookout called Laguna de los Tres with views of Mount Fitz Roy and a glacial lake.  We would shuttle up to a drop off point (#1) at 8 AM, then hike to Campo Poincenot, take a side trek to the lookout (#2), then return to the trail and hike back towards town (#3).  This was a day hike, mostly flat with the exception of the side trek to the lookout which was very steep.  It was estimated to be a 7-9 hour trek of 22km.

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{ Map of Laguna de los Tres Hike – source }

We layered up and headed to breakfast downstairs where they served freshly made bread, muesli/cereal, eggs on request and had a basket of fruit.  I was overjoyed and dug into some fruit topped cereal with toast (no time for eggs today).  We boarded the shuttle shortly after, and took a dirt road 20-30 minutes north of town.  This hike could be done as an out-and-back from town, but the shuttle was a more interesting one-way hike in my opinion.

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{ Hosteria Kaulem breakfast with what appeared to be sunny skies }

We got off the shuttle and started our self-guided hike; we’d been told it was extremely well-marked and there was no need for maps as there would be enough people on the trail, but I tore a map out of our Patagonia trekking book just in case.  The first part of the trek was mainly wooded with little elevation.  I got hot really quickly and had to remove layers, then had to go to the bathroom, but let me tell you – there is little cover in Patagonia!  It was a game of finding a spot and making sure no one was coming.  It was shoulder season, but this trail was still moderately busy and we’d see people every so often.

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{ the first few miles were un-layering, re-layering, and getting hit by cold blasts of wind }

After some time we got to a more exposed area before we turned of to hike up towards Mount Fitz Roy.

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More clothing adjustments ensued.

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Soon we crossed a bridge around Camp Poincenot, then started our hike upward to the lookout. 

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The hike upward was challenging, but I liked it!  I was in stair climber mode and got competitive just passing people left and right.  As we continued up, we started noticing the wind was getting strong – I mean knocking us over strong!  We were grabbing on to rocks to steady ourselves and staying in a squat position, stopping during gusts, and then David’s hat just flew right off – it became a small spec in the distance.  At first the situation was amusing how strong it was, but then we got to an exposed turn very close the lookout  and I told David “this isn’t funny anymore, this is dangerous”.  Being on an exposed side of a mountain with gusts knocking you down was not where I wanted to be.  Plus, we were in a cloud and likely wouldn’t see anything at the lookout anyway.   We crouched on the side of a rock for a few minutes then decided to turn around.  Of course some local girl in Doc Martens and aviators hiked past us and continued.  Still, I wasn’t ready to die due to being blown off a mountain! 

The first ten minutes going down were scary, but once we got to lower elevations the wind was less and I was so happy I wasn’t up there anymore.  I could still feel strong gusts, the wind wasn’t dying off anytime soon.  Amazingly at the bottom, someone had found David’s hat and placed it on a rock, wow!

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We couldn’t wait for lunch.  We stopped at the camp, along with many other hikers as it seemed to be in a warm spot, somehow a bit sheltered from the wind.

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We’d picked up lunch from Walk Patagonia earlier, and they provided us a spinach empanada, sandwich, apple, granola bar, packaged chocolate brownie and 2 hard candies.  Seems like a lot, but it all gets eaten when you’re hiking!  The empanada was amazing – I could get used to empanadas while hiking. 

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The return trip was a little bit uneventful and flat; there were more groups of hikers that had completely avoided the lookout side-trip due to the wind.  We stopped once more then made it into town, about 6-7 hours of hiking total.

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Post-hike we relaxed a little bit at Hosteria Kaulem, played a round of checkers with a chess board, and decided we were both equally terrible checkers players, so a good match for one another.  After an intense game, we made a windy check to the brewery on the north side of town.

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Like the night before, the small-town restaurant was really crowded, so we ended up sharing a table with two other trekkers, an American woman from Chicago and a British woman; it was kind of fun to exchange travel stories.  David had a beer, and we split a  pizza – veggie (hers) and pineapple-ham (his).  We also got a complimentary veggie soup appetizer that was nice and warming after a long hike.  You can see they really like their cheese in Argentina – LOTS on everything.  But a pretty interesting piled-high veggie pizza!  This (minus some of the cheese) hit the spot after a long day.  I don’t know about maraschino cherries on pizza though; a little sweet even for David.

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We spent the rest of the evening drinking tea in the Hosteria Kaulem common area and me quizzing David with a Spanish-English dictionary (which turned out to be pretty hilarious).  The weather wasn’t in our favor for this hike, but this was the worst weather of the whole trip, so I can’t complain! 

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7 thoughts on “Patagonia Day 3: Laguna de los Tres Hike

  1. Hi Brittany, I loved reading your blog as I am planning my own Patagonia adventure! I had a question for you: Seems like you used Swoop Patagonia for the W treak, but do we need a tour company for El Chalten as well? Did you pre-book Walk Patagonia for El Chalten, and what did they help you with?

  2. Thank you! As I recall swoop booked our el chalten trip through walk Patagonia, so if you could go direct to walk Patagonia or similar you might avoid the middleman and save some money! Hope you have Ana amazing adventure!!

  3. Thanks for your response Brittany. I guess my question is whether we need a tour company for El Chalten? What assistance did Walk Patagonia provide you for your hikes in El Chalten? Also, did you use a tour company for the Perito Merino glacier tour as well? Thanks so much!

    1. Yes they set us up on the hikes but didn’t provide maps. I think the glacier was part of the tour but that could be done on your own. Thinking more about it the thing the tour groups helped us most with was the logistics and bus tickets. Those were difficult. If you speak Spanish or have time to figure it out then maybe that will help.

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