The longest hike of my life... (so far)...

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 03, 2009

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Flag of Argentina  , Santa Cruz,
Thursday, October 22, 2009

After one more day in Buenos Aires where we walked around the Microcenter (downtown) again and saw the Plaza de Mayo (and took pictures this time), we checked out of our hostel and checked into the hotel where we would meet our GAP Tour group that we take to Patagonia.

Our group is a great mix of people. There are only 8 of us which is a good number for hiking. We have two Aussies, a German, a Dane, a Brit and a Canadian, plus us. A very international group! Our guide is Taddeo, a local from Puerto Natales, Chile (in Patagonia).

We left 9am Tuesday morning from Buenos Aires and arrived in El Chalten at 8pm, after a long flight and bus ride. The bus ride was long, but introduced us to Patagonia. Two and a half hours of driving and we only saw one hotel/café and probably half a dozen cars. Pretty isolated out here.

El Chalten is a great little town of only about 800 residents, in the shadow of the mountains and right next to Glacier National Park. The town reminds me of a ski resort town, except that everyone is here to hike or climb.  Climbers will come here for weeks and just wait for the right weather forecast to have a good few days to attempt some of the highest peaks.  At any one moment, the streets have 5 times as many hikers headed to and from the trails as cars on the road.

On our first full day in El Chalten we had two guides take us for a full day hike through the Glacier National park where we had amazing views of the valley and the mountain range and the rugged Patagonian wilderness. We got pretty close to the Piedmas Blancas Glacier. The weather was pretty good by Patagonian standards, probably about 10C, but much less with the biting wind chill (winds up to 70km an hour!). The layers of thermal underwear, long sleeved t-shirts, fleeces and wind jackets helped!!!

Today we got up early again to take an ice hike on the Viedma Glacier. We took a boat over Lake Viedma to the glacier and climbed up and over the rocks to walk in and over and around this huge glacier! One half of the glacier recedes at 20cms a day and the other, more jagged side of the glacier recedes at almost half a meter a day! Better come down and see these glaciers soon or they'll be gone!!! Haha!

Tonight is a quick dinner (the empanadas here are fantastic – and cheap!) and then we’re back on the bus back to El Calafate where we spend another couple of days.

PS. Congrats to Molly (Dave’s sister) and Jim who just had their second baby – Patrick Kelly! We look forward to meeting him in a few weeks!
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