El Chalten — Part 2

Our second day in El Chalten was fantastic. It started with a 20km hike to Laguna de los tres, in my opinion the single most beautiful mountain in Patagonia. A lot of people will argue that los torres in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is more impressive, but having done both, I disagree.

The first eight kilometers or so were pretty flat, which was good because Julie and I were both a little sore from having done 24 kilometers the day before. Just as with the hike to Laguna torre (which I wrote about in El Chalten – Part 1), we could see our destination throughout the majority of the hike. The path meandered in and out of the trees, and each time we left the trees we could see the mountain getting closer:img_3068img_3066img_3073

We took our lunch break in a dense forest at the base of the mountain. We knew the last kilometer or so was a brutal ascent with crazy elevation gain, so we took the time to enjoy our peanut butter sandwiches and trail mix before setting off.

45 minutes later, the lake, mountain, and glacier came into view. Once again I wish I could post videos here, because I have a video of me entering the clearing and audibly gasping.  img_3079img_3080

We ended up spending nearly two hours at the lake.  It was really cold, and a lot of that time was spent huddled together trying to stay out of the blustery wind, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  Moments like this one, where I’m just left with a stupid grin on my face even while freezing and hungry, are the perfect reminder of why I love hiking.

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We pushed the pace a bit on the way back, as it was February 7th, aka Super Bowl Sunday, and we had heard that only one bar in town was going to be showing the game. The walk back, while hurried, was stunning:img_3115

We made fajitas for dinner, got dulce de leche covered waffles for desert, and then made our way to the bar.img_3120

We met up with a recent USC grad from our hostel, and proceeded to drink surprisingly good craft beer and eat piping hot fries while watching the game.  It was nice to have a little taste of home in the form of football.  That being said, because the bar was tiny (as everything seemed to be in El Chalten), they had to set the tv up outside:img_3119

While this made for a cool ambiance (after all, how many people can say they’ve watched a superbowl under the stars in Patagonia), as you can see from this picture it was cold even before the sun set. Once it was totally dark, it was downright frigid. The game was pretty boring, and so none of us felt bad when we, along with nearly everyone else, left midway through the 3rd quarter.

Despite not seeing the end of the game, it was a fantastic way to finish a day. I loved El Chalten, and highly recommend it to anyone exploring Patagonia. It’s absolutely worth it.

Next time, I enter Chile, the country that would be my home for more than four months.

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