Man Vs. Wild Round One

I made the decision to make my way South from Posadas, Argentina because the weather was becoming super hot and I didn’t really know where I wanted to go.

After finally healing from my infected leg after around 5 days in Posadas not doing much but relaxing I went to the bus terminal to see the cost of heading south. I knew it would be costly and i really didnt want to go back to Buenos Aires on the bus.

I spoke to a few bus companies and found that the only way I could get south to Bariloche was to take a bus to Buenos Aires then another bus onto Bariloche. So I made the decicion to go.. The next bus to BA was 4 hours away at 10pm… a 14hour trip back the way I had already come.

I said goodbye to Sergio and thanked him for all his help taking me to the shops and the station on the motorbike. I really enjoyed myself in Posadas spending time with a great family… I also got to practice some Spanish with everyone.. I really enjoyed speaking to the 5 year old girl because it was a simple conversation… although she did surpass me by a long way and couldnt understand my accent in Spanish… I really need to work on it.

Everyone struggles to understand my name. A friend said try and say Anden, because that my be easier. I am yet to give it a go but will see how it works.

I chilled in the station and waited for the bus. It was nice to catch a night bus as I could try and get some sleep. I reccommend the front of the bus on the top above the driver because the leg room is better. You can put your legs up to the window.

Well 14 hours of being in the bus wears you out pretty quickly, sleeping on and off just slighlty. Not quite enough to refresh you.. we arrived late in Buenos Aires as usual. I dont think I have been on a bus that has been on time.. I was getting worried because my connecting bus with another company was only an hour away.

I managed to change over with no problems as the next bus was nearly 40 minutes late. The next bus was a 24 hour bus ride to Bariloche. I did enjoy the change in scenery as we went through the open expanse of flat fields.. not much really there…a few hours out of Bariloche you start to go through the mountains, and wow they do not dissapoint. So steap and super sharp peaks. Its very different to our Australian mountains that i have been to.

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Our bus broke down twice in the mountains so we had nothing to do but chill outside and take in the fresh mountain air. We also played a few rounds of Bingo. It was good for me, learning the numbers. Unfortunately I didnt win… maybe next time.

Arriving in Bariloche around 2 hours late I found a taxi to take me to the address I had been given for couchsurfing. I didnt realise Bariloche was 25km long around the lake and that i was on the other side of the city.. It really pays to research because my taxi was $180 pesos. Crazy for a half hour ride when i could have paid $4 peso for the bus.. next time I know.

After a little stuffing around and asking some locals we finally found the house and I made my way in to meet the guys who would host me couchsurfing.

It was a beautiful home and really comfortable. I spent some time with the guys and met their friends. We ate and stayed up late. Something I dont know if I will get used to here. One night we made an Asado, BBQ made with coals. I absolutely love them..

Bariloche is a beautiful place with many crystal clear lakes and so much to do.. One of the days I hired a bike and made a 4 hour ride around the the lakes. It was quite difficult with many hills in between. The views are amazing and there are so many places to stop and take photos.

We were so lucky with the weather and most of the days were above 25 degrees. We made the most of it and visited some of the lakes in Bariloche. The water was fresh and very cold but it was super refreshing.. The water is so clear you can see right to the bottom. There is a beuatiful blue/green colour that illuminates from the water. It would be great to go with a snorkel to see the fish.

I was planning to head to El Bolson next for some hiking but Cristian said there was great hiking in Bariloche. I had a look and there are many refugios (like our huts in Australia). I decided to do a 5 day circuit to 4 of the huts. I gathered my things and looked over the map to plan my trip. I went into the city to register my walk at cab- Club Andino Bariloche, they give you information on the walks in the National Park etc. The park next to Bariloche is Nahuel Huapi National Park.

I took the bus to Kilometer 8 where I wanted to take another bus to Villa Catedral.. I just missed the bus by 2 seconds. It literally drove past as i tried to wave it down.. well I thought the next bus will come in half and hour or an hour… well waiting, and nothing came. I tried my best to ask if anyone knew when the next bus would be coming but no one knew. Finally after 2 hours just as I was getting ready to start walking and hitch hike, the bus came! What a relief.

On the bus and on my way .. I arrived at Cerro Catedral and made my way to the begginging of the walk. It starts off on the 4 wheel drive road.. its quite tame and easy going to begin with. After a couple of hours it changes and things start to get really steep.
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They views are amazing as you start to move higher into the mountains. I walked for around 5 hours with breaks and made it to refugio Frey beside a beautiful lake.. I was a little upset at how many people were there though.. it was more like a hostel then a mountain camp. Not to worry the views were to die for.. It was great to see heaps of rock climbers there too. The cliffs look great to climb. I will definately be back to climb some day.

I set up my tent on the tiny stones and started to cook my dinner of potatoes and carrots mixed with a soup. This night the sunset was absolutely amazing as it slowly dropped behind the moutains illuminating the sky with an orange glow…
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I was pretty tired so had a was in the lake and made my way to bed. It was a little uncomfortable because my sleeping mattress doesnt inflate anymore. It was a rough night on the rocks but i managed to get some sleep.

Waking early i pack everything away in my pack and relax on the rocks as i eat some breakfast. Ready to go I make my way around the lake and see a family of birds with some chicks, they looked like geese of some kind.

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After a few photos and some site seeing i though i better get moving as i wasnt sure how long the next refugio would take.. very quickly the trail turned into the side of the mountain, just rocks and up… it was quite the slap in the face. I wanted to go mountain climbing and the walk to Frey was a little dull. This sure wasnt though. I was so excited and super exhusted already.

The walk was around 7 to 8 hours of up and down and many scree slopes to navigate (loose rocks)- at one point i was walking with 5 others down the slope and we all slid and fell on our butts at least once. Its quite dangerous because at one point a laarge boulder dislodged and went on rolling down the cliff. Yelling out to the people below to watch out. Thankfully the boulder came to a stop and no one was injured.

Again there are so many beautiful place to relax on the walk from Refugion Frey to Refugio Jakob. You make your way through some forrest and there are amazing rivers.

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Arriving at Jakob everyone at the refugio was really nice, I logged in and found a quite campsite with smooth dirt for the ground. I liked the Jakob wasnt as busy as Frey. Its a harder walk. You can walk in from another point which is a nice trail that has a very steep climb and takes 6 to 8 hours.

I was pretty tired from the long day of climbing and descending so relaxed by the lake as I ate and watched the sun set.
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The next day I got a few things together in my pack, to climb Cerro Refugio, the mountain next to the Refugio. It was also the route to the next Refugio Laguna Negra which is mainly unmarked and they reccommend to take a guide.

I could see why they reccommend a guide, the path dissapears and everything turns into rocks.. much of the way is climbing, up to a grade 15 in some places on the Austrlian scale. Something you would like to have rope for for safety.

It was a couple of hours climbing to the top and i relaxed knowing that I had the mountain to myself. It was pretty awesome views 360 degrees around! I was on top of the world… well not quite. I was only aaround 2000 meters above sea level but for this day it was my mountain!!  My boring lunch of bread and salami tasted amazing!! Something about the mountains that just sets you free.. No worries, nothing. I love it and think Bariloche is somewhere I could live. It has everything I love to do!!!

Day 3 of my hiking I pack up camp and set off to make my way to Laguna Negra.. The morning is cold and I am a little tired. Setting off at 8am i head up the mountain as I did the day before. Again no one is there. Just me. Alone walking solo with just my thoughts. The day was great and nothing but sun and a slight breeze. 

The trail is nothing but rocks. Its like heading down to the beach and walking and climbing along the rocks!! It was tiring. I stopped a few times to eat and relax and a few times I left my bag to climb some of the mountain peaks.. It wasnt something I should have done on my own as if I did slip the fall would have been the end. I have hiked a lot in the past and have also been rock climbing so I was confident in what I was doing. If I wasnt I would not have gone ahead.

I managed to find the way where you pass over the mountain and continue down before ascending again to Laguna Negra, I left my pack and walked down for a while. I didnt really like the route and thought I may find something further ahead. I kept on moving and tried a few passes of the main mountain ridge line but couldnt find anything..

I sat for a while looking at the time and knew i had 5 hours of light left. I didnt want to stay on the mountain because I didnt know if they would call a rescue if i didnt turn up to the refugio.. i didnt want to go back the way i went.. so I looked over the map and decided to take an alternate route off the main trail.. when i say that there was really no trail anyway.. just a line on the map.

I choose my route and wanted to climb down the mountain to follow the river then finally head east to hit the trail and walk back to the refugio Frey where i came from.

I set off climbing down the mountain, when i say climbing I mean all fours and scalling down the cliff. It took me nearly 2 hours to decend nearly 1000 meters. It was quite a relief when i took the last step off the mountain.. making my way south 200m to the river i crossed through a thick lot of trees which i climbed on the bendy branches. Into the river i knew i could follow for a few kilometers and it would hit the trail at some point. The vegitation was lush on the sides of the river and i was forced to walk in the river. It was fresh and no deeper than thigh hight.

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I continued walking through the river watching the mountains and checking the map to decide where i would leave the river. It was beautiful and there were a couple of mini water falls i needed to navigate down. Again i knew i was somewhere not many people would go and it was exciting.. maybe foolish if i was to get into trouble… i had enough food and i knew where i needed to go. I didnt want anyone to worry.

I decided to leave the river because I was starting to go north away from the trail. I made my way out of the river and bam!! There i was in a swamp.. thankfully it was only ankle deep and went for about 500m.. then again the foilage was getting thick and turning into thin bamboo that was so thick you couldnt see more then a few meters ahead.

I could see the mountain about 2kms away with the trail at the bottom directly east… so with the sun behind me casting my shadow in front i pushed ahead knowing i had 2 hours of daylight to make the trail..

I was using the sun and a few trees that i could see above the bamboo as a bearing. Pushing through the bamboo was hard work and it was taking it out of me quickly. I found the best way to get through the bamboo was to seperate the bamboo one by one and make a tiny path to push through the 30cm i made and repeat.. a few times i needed to crawl and climb… a few points i was so thick in it that i couldnt turn or move.. one pont i was so frustrated i was pushing down the bamboo trying to climb then i fell and turned around to fall pack first… there i was stuck like a helpless turtel.

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I sat there for a moment and thought all is ok I know where I am, I know where I am going.. Its just a huge challenge i needed to push through. I got myself into this. I can get out! With one final push i managed to get myself up with my pack… i continued to push and found my way to a clearing under a huge tree. I couldnt climb it as there were no low limbs. I could see the mountain very close now and knew it wasnt far. The bamboo was thick here so i relaxed a moment to regain some energy!.. i made the final push and it was around 15 minutes more then boom!! Out i emerge to the trail.. I was so happy to get to the trail.. now it was around 9pm and I had been going since 8am with a few breaks up until lunch time..

The final push up the 1000m to the refugio was exhusting.  I picked up two sticks and went at it step by step… I walked into the refugio around 11;30pm looking like a zombie.. I was greated by many people and the guy who runs the refugio.. he asked where I had been. I told him my story and asked if i could buy some food because I didnt feel like cooking. He said to me its ok! Tonight I will feed you. I was so happy to hear that. What an awesome guy. I had a was in the lake to freshen up.. unfortunately i had taken a lot of cuts to my arms and legs from the bamboo, i was so focused i didnt even realise.

The meal was amazing and i made my way to an empty space on the ground. Rolled out my matt and sleeping bag and slept under the stars. It was a beautiful night and i woke a few times to just look at the stars. I do love how i can still see the same sky and the southern cross. It really doesnt feel like I am far from home… i am lucky because i feel like i am home wherever i am.. I used to get home sick when i was young.. but now its funny.. i am my home and happy to be wherever i am.

With a good night sleep i awake semi fresh the next morning.. deciding to make my way home to Bariloche. It was a struggle and I was pretty tired. I met up with a nice group of girls half way down the walk which was only 4 hours. It was helpfull to walk and chat, takes the mind off the walking. By now i was nearing 60km of walking and much of this on rocks. Its been a long time since I have done anything like this and my feet were suffering quite a lot..

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I was thankful to make it to the end and i was given a lift to take the bus home. People are so nice and really helpful.

On arriving back to the couchsurfing house there were a couple more surfers and I met Mark from Barcelona. We hit it off and we were heading in the same direction so decided to move on together and try to hitch hike from Bariloche to El Bolson..

We managed to find a decent spot after asking the police where would be good.. We took it in turns to hail cars and watched as the dust was building in the distance slowly the wind picking up just throwing dust everywhere like being hit by a sandblaster… We decided to use our powers and think together what car would pick us up!! We decided on a white pickup (ute in Australia of course).. it didnt take too long and bam!! There was our white pickup and a really nice guy who was going to El Bolson! We were set.

Mark had set up some more couchsurfing in El Bolson so we made our way to the town market where the couple Fernanado and Camilla where selling oils and soaps that they make. They took us to their bio home they have started building which is 25kms out of town.. super quite fresh air.. we slept in the loft. No power or running water. It is super new.

It rained for a couple of days so we went into town for a meal and a drink. When the weather fined up a little we made our way to a oneday hike from Wharton El Bolson to Hielo Azul Refugio.. it was around a 4 hour hike up a pretty steep rocky stream. Things then flattened out and the forest way amazing. Beautiful green trees and grass. It was quite a change from the rocky mountains at Bariloche.

We made it to the Refugio and we were staying inside so the cost was $100 pesos. Pretty expensive but we didnt want to carry much. The Refugio was nice and we cooked a nice pasta meal in the kitchen and drank Mate..
We met a guy mark had met on the bus and chilled together. The weather was really icy and it was nice to have the warmth of the refugio. We slept in the loft with many people and it was hard to get a good nights sleep.. the guy next to me thought he would try and share my bed a few times. I had to kick him a few times before he would more.. at first i thought it was the cat from the other house we were staying at then remembered where we where.

We got up nice and early to a beautiful day and relaxed with a nice breakfast and more Mate. We walked together with Mitchell down the mountain. We took our time. I was still struggling from the hike the few days before at Bariloche. Finally we reached the dirt road back to El Bolson. We tried to hitch hike and eventually a taxi pulled up and gave us a good price.. we were stuffed and took the ride. Thankfully because it was a long way back into town.

Back in town it was pizza time then try and hitch hike the 25km back home. Here we go with our Jedi mind control again!!!! 3 rides later and we were home… into our loft with our cats. We felt like home and had the best sleep..

Next day we got a ride with the guys into town as it was market day! Made our way to the outskirts of town and trying to get a pickup was proving to be impossible. The heat was pounding us.. finally a tour bus came by and we took it to Esquel.. the 120kms took 4 hours because it went through a national park. It was a nice ride and better than waiting, cost was $65pesos..

Now in Esquel relaxing and working out our travels south to the end of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina. We are looking to head through to Chile then back into Argentina. Hitch hiking as much as we can to make things as cheap as possible..

Well until next time… excuse the spelling and no photos. I will get some up as soon as I can.. we are all sitting in the same room next to the wall stealing next doors WIFI!!

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