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Days 9-14 Bariloche, Refugio Lopez, and Refugio Frey.

January 24th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

Wednesday, January 19th. 

Wednesday was uneventful. More checking out the town, hiking in the hills to take photos of the lake, reading about things to do and trying to make plans. We are starting to realize the need to spend at least some time planning ahead so that we don’t waste a day doing nothing.

Oh, and Khristian met his childhood hero:

Khristian and his childhood hero

We did finally find a Mexican restaurant to eat at, but that was a bit disappointing. We received some coupons from a guy on the street that promised a free margarita. No need to ask us twice, we’re there! (on a side note, the coupon mentioned in big bold letters that the food was NOT spicy. That should have been a clue to what we were in for). We got our free margaritas, straight from the machine that was making them. They were small, had little or no tequila, and sugar on the rim. Certainly not what my taste buds were anticipating. Then came the bread (sourdough?) and salsa. Strike two. Finally, my tacos, beans and rice. The tacos were actually pretty good. The beans and rice a bit bland. Overall, not the worst Mexican I’ve ever had, and under the circumstances, I did enjoy it. 

Thursday we decided to go for a hike to a Refugio called Lopez, on Cerro Lopez. It was supposed to be a 6 hour return. We took a 30 minute bus ride to Catedral. At the trailhead was a food stand, where we ate panchos (hot dogs) with potato chips on top. Also really good, but not something I would eat regularly. The hike started out tough right away, and didn’t ease up until the last couple miles. It was really steep, and seemed to go straight up the mountainside, with very few switchbacks. I completely overdressed. When we arrived in Bariloche it was raining, windy and cold. The next day it not raining, but the wind and cold did not let up. The lake was covered in white-capped waves. And there was talk it might start raining again on Thursday where we were going hiking. So, I broke out my cold weather gear, and piled it on. Not only was it not raining there, it was sunny and hot. I gradually stripped down to shorts and a T. Unfortunately, because I was planning on being bundled up I didn’t put on any sunscreen and I regretted it. That night blisters formed on my nose and I woke up in the middle of the night with water leaking out of them and down my face. I hate when that happens.

The Refugio was kind of cool. The view from up there was spectacular. There was more hiking to be had higher up, but it was much more difficult, and a combination of being tired and fear if trip ruining injury kept us from attempting it. There will be plenty of hikes to come.

Which brings me to Friday and Frey. Another popular Refugio, Frey is a bit further in the mountains than Lopez. We had made a reservation for 4 to stay the night there, but my parents opted out so it was just K and I. The trail we took starts at the bottom of the renowned ski resort Cerro Catedral. The first couple miles are fairly easy, sort of just wrapping around the base of the mountain, with only a light elevation gain. Then the trail turns into a valley and starts climbing. But it is still a gradual climb, not the the previous hike we did. And it’s mostly in the trees, and runs along a large stream, so it’s cool, and protected from the sun. My legs were definitely worked from the day before, but not feeling too bad. I knew this was going to be a longer hike, but the fact we would not be returning until the next day made it easier. 

The were several stream crossings, many with cool wood bridges. Overall a very nice and enjoyable trail. I was surprised to see so many young kids especially up towards the top. Pretty impressive that they were able to hike so far. At one point we came to a clearing where people can set up their tents. There was a little wood hut that was build into the overhang of a very large rock. At first it seemed really cool, but once I got close I discovered that many people have burned fires inside and the small was unbearable. What a waste. It would be nice to sleep in there.

It was also at this time, when I was actually feeling pretty strong, especially considering I was coming down with something and had a nasty sore throat and horrible cough, that I noticed a sign I wish I had never seen. It said “Frey 1hs.” ugh! What energy and enthusiasm I had left disappeared instantly. It was all mental, of course, but sometimes what is in our minds is what is most important. I sat down and considered calling it quits. I felt like I had been hiking forever and my legs, only moments ago full of vim and vigor, were protesting any further duty. I sat down on a rock sighed, and tried to get my head wound the idea of another hour of hiking. 

A few minutes later we were pressing on, Actually, Khristian took off without me, so really, what choice did I have. I soon caught up to him, and we started the hardest part of the hike. This was steeper, but it was also approaching the tree line, and we could now see the jagged peaks around us. They were amazing, and a source of motivation to keep pushing. Khristian spotted some tents on the hillside, and then the Refugio was in sight. We were almost there!

Upon arrival we we’re greeted by Lucia. We told here we had reservations, but she could not find our names on her list. “No worries” she said, “we have plenty of room”. She offered us some lemonade as more hikers were arriving. 

There were a dozen or so tents that I could see, and a two small buildings. One was for people who wanted a private room, and one was the banos. There was an enclosed room on the outside of the main building that served as the kitchen and dining area for campers. Inside was another kitchen and dining area for people that wanted to buy food. They had a pretty extensive menu, and two types of draft beer. I opted for the negra, and it hit the spot. 

There seemed to be three or four employees, all women, and I was curious how much time they spend there. One had been there for 3 months, another 1 month. Their supplies are delivered by helicopter. They were working furiously on preparing the dinner, cutting vegetables, boiling this and that. We opted to eat with them, and it turned out to be really good lasagna, and a large portion. We ate dinners with people from Germany, Brazil, France, and San Diego. 

After dinner we went to get in our bunks, which was awkward because there were so many people already sleeping, it was pitch black, and every step made loud creaking noises. We rented sleeping bags, but probably could have gotten by without them, as it was plenty warm. There were unverified claims that I s’mores loudly all night. Yeah. Sure.

In the morning we had some coffee, said goodbye to some of the people we met, and started the hike back down. Overall it was a really good time, and I hope we have some more experiences that are similar.
Sunday I spent sitting around all day writing and uploading photos, trying to get caught up. I didn’t quite, and as it is, that Sunday was the 21st, and I’m writing this on the 31st. Everyone else went to some outdoor market or fair. We spent one more night in Bariloche, and then Monday morning caught a bus for Puerto Montt.

Many more pictures in my GALLERY

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Bariloche, Argentina

January 18th, 2011 by *MoonDogg*

After a really long bus ride on a really nice bus, we have made it to San Carlos de Bariloche

My location: Mitre 201-299 San Carlos de Bariloche Rio Negro Argentina 41°08.040′ S, 71°18.368′ W,-71.30614

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