Arrived into Barriloche and stayed at the nice little hostel Periko’s. The hostelworld reviews said that the wifi was great, and as I had all the pictures of Huemul to upload it was a good choice. Except the wifi wasn’t great, other than that, the hostel is awesome. A nice thing here is that they often give you breakfast included in the cost of the room, very handy.
There’s a network of Club Andino (Andes) around Argentina, a place to go and learn about the different walks etc. We settled on a walk which took us between Colonial Suisse, and Pampa Linda.
It was a good walk, first day up a valley and then steeply up to reach the first campsite at Laguna Negra. It was a very windy night, fortunately the campsite was pretty sheltered, and our Macpac tent is pretty solid in the wind.
Next day, traversed around the lake and up a ridge before dropping steeply down into a valley. We had some other hikers behind us, who followed us down off the ridge, we never saw them again.. so not quite sure whether they had just followed us and realised their mistake, or that they genuinely did a different route. Hey ho.
That night stayed at Lago C.A.B (Club Andino Barriloche?!?). The next day, we were supposed to go on, but the weather had clagged in completely. With very little visibility, and little chance of nice views, opted to stay in the tent for a day. Kindles are magic on days like these I must say :) I’m quite jealous of Maaike’s one though, as it has the built in light… most handy. But mine is still perfectly usable so I’ll bide my time.
So, after our unexpected rest day, headed on up for what was the “tricky” day of the hike. Chilly start to the day, ice on the outside of the tent!. So, steep climb up to exit from Laguna CAB, and then a nice contour around and drop down to another valley before heading up to the ridge on Co. de los Cristales.
It was the descent from Cristales that was the hard part. We were following markers on the way down, and it led us off to what was a very steep, quite exposed (and wet) gulley. The true route headed along the ridge as you can see from the map, but, we had been instructed by the park staff to follow the markers, so that we did.
In retrospect we probably should have retraced our steps, however, we did the little traverse and got back to where we should have been. Still, not fun, I still get the shivers if I think about it too much ;) We heard subsequently that some people just toss their bags down at that point to make things easier. To be clear, if we had slipped while doing the traverse over the little cliff, it would have been extremely serious (like, very badly damaged if not dead). This is not something to be proud of!. I *think* following the ridge and then down to the saddle would be the smarter move, but, as ever in the outdoors, you make your own choices!
Then a very nice campsite and an amazingly warm pool to bathe in. I guess the lake and rocks heat up, but really, it was actually quite nice water (though I still only managed to stay in for 5 seconds ;)
Next day, nice walk passing lots of lakes and then dropping down to Lago Ilon. We dropped our bags here and walked out to a viewpoint (mirador del doctor). Very nice, my pictures don’t do it justice at all.
Then it was time to drop down to Pampa Linda. Nicely situated village with the glacier overlooking it. The river crossing we had to do at the end took us a little by surprise! It was fast enough water, and opaque, not usually what we like to cross. However, it only came up to the knees (far enough it felt) and was fine. I wonder if anyone has come acropper there though.
We did a walk to the waterfall one day, opting not to go up to a refugio and stay the night, as, frankly we were a bit tired from the long walk, and Maaike had a somewhat upset stomach from ?! water ?! who knows, still, best to err on the side of a shorter than longer walk.
Celebrated one year married with 2 (yes 2!) beers. I’m a total lightweight now, as you can see from the pictures ;)
Anyway, good hike all told, but watch out coming off Cristales and don’t stray too far to the right.