January 21, 2006
Today was a long, yet relaxed day. We had to walk 3.5 hours to the next campsite, set up our camp, and do another walk of 5 hours round-trip to a mirador without any gear. On this trek, I've noticed that I need a lot more sleep than normal when I do a large amount of walking during the day. Because of this, we got another late start, putting us in somewhat of a hurry to begin the day.
The first part of our day wasn't difficult, but it did take a long time. We walked around lakes and through forests, up and down small hills. Tourists were everywhere. Along the way, we stopped for some calafate berries. I almost had a Poppler-like reaction when I ate my first one, but was eventually able to quit.
When we got to camp, we pitched our tents, ate lunch, and relaxed for a bit before heading off to the mirador. The best part about this part of the day was that we got to leave our backpacks behind in the tents. There is another campsite at the top of the hill, but we didn't feel like dragging our gear up there only to take it straight back down tomorrow. Partway up the hill, the river was roaring past us. The glacial ice was melting off of the nearby mountains, and was pouring into the lakes below.
A bit further up the hill was the first mirador. Behind us was a lake, a forest, and some mountains. It looked like someone painted the scene into the background. In front of us were the mountains from which the glaciers were melting. Every now and then, we would hear loud cracks and booms as the glacier broke apart. Rebeca crossed our paths on her way back down, and we all sat around for an hour or so. I easily could've stayed there all day.
People kept telling us that the rest of the walk was flat and easy. This was in no way true. It was definitely uphill the entire way. After another hour we reached Camp Britanico. Only two tents had been pitched, an exclusive club for the most hardcore backpackers to go to the remotest campsite on the circuit.
Finally, after 2.5 hours of walking straight uphill, we made it to the mirador. The view was great, and there were no other people in sight, but it wasn't quite as good a view as the mirador below. At least the weather was nearly perfect: mostly sunny, warm, and no wind.
Tony has to leave tomorrow, so tonight we had our last supper together. Tony wanted to make spaghetti again, but John would have none of it. I fancied the idea of the somewhat bland, yet filling noodles, so we ended up cooking two separate dishes. By the time we finished dinner, it was almost 11:00 and it was getting dark, so our long day ended abruptly.
After discussing how to end our trek, John and I decided to stay another day at the same campsite. We still have enough food left, camping is free, and it's in the middle of some of the best scenery in the park. We've had six tough days so far, so it will be nice to take a day off to recharge our batteries before making the final 6.5 hour journey to complete the circuit.
The photo album for this entry is here.