Honeymoon Part 3 – El Chalten

For the past 24+ hours, we have been in the small town of El Chalten. El Chalten has about 1000 residents and the city has blocked any further growth. It is located on the northern edge of Glacier National Park and is the home of the famous Mt. Fitz Roy.

The town itself was filled with hostels, restaurants and adventure companies. There are many trekking trails that start in El Chalten. They all can be done in a day hike but many choose to spend more time and camp along the treks.

Our goal in El Chalten was to see Mt. Fitz Roy. When we arrived it was cloudy and rainy. Monday was supposed to be a little bit better so we would try then.

We checked into Pudu Lodge which was a hostel/hotel outside of town close to the trail head. We wandered the town, ate chicken wings and the biggest and very delicious burger at a little restaurant/pub called Porter. We searched for a tv or a good wifi signal to follow the Chargers game. That proved to be difficult. We eventually made it back to the hostel to rest and follow the rest of the game. After the Chargers lost… we laid in bed. I think it was maybe 7pm, we wanted to rest until dinner. We woke up the next morning with some extra sleep under our belts. Oops!

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After breakfast at the hostel we made our way to a Fitz Roy lookout point. It was a 4km hike along the Fitz Roy trail. The entire trail was supposed to take 4 hours to get out. I think the lookout we stopped at was a little less than half way. We waited at the lookout for about 15-20 minutes to see if the clouds would clear. There was some blue sky above us and we were hoping it would clear for just a minute above the mountains. Unfortunately, the weather was not our friend in Chalten as we never saw the mountain. We did have a nice little hike though!

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It was a short trip in Chalten. We got some much needed rest, paid to have our laundry done, ate some good food and enjoyed the town a little.

In such a small town, life seems to slow down. It was a fun trip even though we never saw Mt. Fitz Roy. We will have to live through the pictures.

Back to El Calafate we go!

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Honeymoon Part 2 – Torres del Paine

Good morning from another bus!

We left off with our bus ride to Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales is basically the gateway town to Torres del Paine National Park. It’s filled with backpackers and travelers.

It was Friday and we decided to start our trek Sunday so we’d have all day Saturday to prepare and rest. We wandered the town with our backpacks and suitcase in search of a hostel. We ended up staying at Hostel Geminis for two nights and it worked out great.

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Friday we converted US dollars to Chilean Pesos and ate an amazing dinner at a little cafe that I need to look up the name later. We had ceviche, salmon, ravioli filled with salmon and a berry cake dessert. It was all delicious. While we were there a photographer was taking photos of the salmon for a magazine and they used the exact salmon we ate for one of the pictures! We need to find that magazine, we’re basically famous! Patagonia is known for its Salmon and Lamb.

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After dinner we went to a local beer brewery and restaurant. I think it’s the only beer brewed in Puerto Natales. They had 2 options. A pale and an amber. We had tasters of them both and we both ended up drinking the amber.

Saturday we listened to a talk at Erratic Rock hostel about trekking in Torres del Paine. There are two trek options, the W-trek which has 3 out and back sections forming a W shape or the full circuit which includes the W but also wraps around the back side which they call an O. Initially we planned to do the W-trek for time purposes but they talked us into the whole thing.

The rest of Saturday was spent buying food and necessary supplies for the trip. It was tough preparing backpacking food in another country. We opted for lots of ramen for dinners, found salami and crackers for lunches, oatmeal and cereal for breakfast, and trail mix, cereal bars and peanut butter and dulce de leche (a thing in Patagonia) on pitas for snacks. We really missed Matt’s beef jerky!

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As for supplies we forgot a good amount. Water bladders, duct tape, Todd’s chacos, etc. etc. We didn’t end up needing bladders because there was so much water on the trail. We didn’t have to carry any or a filter as you could drink straight from the streams which was amazing!

Saturday dinner and pre- trek carbo loading was pizza and beer! Much better pizza this time!

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Sunday we took the 3 hour bus ride to the park and then the Catamaran boat ride to the start of our trek!

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The next 6 days and 5 nights we were immersed in the Torres del Paine National Park soaking up all it had to offer. The sun came out at around 5:30 am and went down around 10:30 every night. We had lots of time for walking in the daylight. Because we opted to do the full circuit, we had to kick it in overdrive to get done in time. Typically they say to do the circuit in 8 or 9 days, we ended up with 6.

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If you google ‘best treks’ in the world, Torres del Paine will come up. This meant, it was popular and crowded, especially in the W portion. The trail had options for sleeping in huts and eating meals at the huts or traditional camping cooking for yourself but you had to stay and pay for the campsites they had. Everything on the trail was expensive for the most part. Campsites were like $15 per person per night. If you stayed in the huts I think it was $50 per person or something close to that.

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Being at the Southern tip of Chile, the weather was crazy! I have never experienced wind like we did in that park! The weather changes very quickly. It will rain every day but not very hard or for very long. We did come across one storm. During that storm we walked for hours in the rain with 50mph winds. I was knocked down at one point by a gust! We made it to camp soaking wet! But for the most part we lucked out with weather!

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The trails were pretty well maintained for the most part and very easy to follow. You really didn’t need a map at all. We did come across mud, water crossings, rocky terrain and some dicey ladders and bridges which made it interesting. We have lots of pictures I will share when we get back and can upload them from the camera! We had one pass to navigate. The top was at 1200 meters. The one thing I think they could add to these trails was switchbacks! There were plenty of steep sections.

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The scenery was unreal. We walked through fields of daisies, forests with moss covered trees, alongside glaciers and lakes and up and down mountains. It was nothing short of beautiful! My favorite views were the Torres at one of the W legs and then the view at the top of the pass looking out at Glacier Grey.

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After 6 days of around 9 hrs of hiking, we were exhausted and my feet had seen better days.

Christmas Day was spent hiking the Gardner Pass, enjoying amazing views of the glacier and eating ramen and chatting with new friends. It was weird not to be with family. We missed you all and wish you were with us but we do know there will be many more holidays to come!

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From now till the 31st, we will be in El Calafate and El Chalten. We will explore Glaciar National Park and Mt. Fitz Roy and do some trekking on the Perito Moreno glacier. Hiking will be minimal until these blisters heal! We splurged a little on a couple hotels as we are ready for a comfy bed and some honeymoon luxury!

Last night we both had massages and ate at La Zaina in El Calafate. We had some amazing braised lamb and a salmon salad capping the night with an ice cream cone that hit the spot.

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Now we are off to El Chalten.

Hope all is well at home!

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