/ ushuaia sets a high bar

after 30 hours of travel, 3 flights, and very little sleep, we made it to ushuaia. the trip was pretty smooth except landing in ushuaia i got a nose bleed – which never happens – and then i got my checked pack to find it had a tear in the waterproof fabric, which i fixed with some duct tape for now.

ushuaia defied expectations – a small, quiet port town at the southern most tip of argentina with a wealth of hiking and fish resteraunts (which we didn’t eat at because the bbq was so good). we had a legendary 3 days of hiking – with the final 2 particularly special. the weather made us feel very lucky as we experienced no rain and averages around the 50s, perfect fall weather. and even better, we got some sun which is very rare down here.

i am skipping ahead a day because we had one hell of a trek on our second and third day.

i will preface by saying that it was the craziest thing i have ever done in my life. over a period of 30 hours on a clear but rough trail, we saw 0 people and many wild horses. ill recount the trip and share some of the best photos below.

on sunday afternoon, we left our hostel in town for a 2 day trek each with 20 lbs in our packs. we had a late start at 2pm, but we were told that our first destination – a campsite at laguna de caminante, was reachable in 5 hours so we figured we could make it work. we quickly realized we were wrong and made a huge miscalculation. with all our stops for photos and some breaks, we wouldn’t make it before sunset.

fast forward to sunset and we ended up hiking 2 hours through the woods and what we would find to be a steep mountainside in the dark with just our headlamps. it was terrifying but thrilling at the same time. most of the trails were marked intermittently with markers, but thankfully we had a GPS map on my iPhone. while there was zero cell service, the iPhone can still use GPS in airplane mode using the trail maps i downloaded.

by 9pm we got to camp and set up our tent. we made a fire and dinner (rice and tuna). we had run out of water so we took some water from the lagoon and boiled it to purify it. after about 10 miles and 1k+ in elevation, we were pretty dead and slept well in our tent. we were close to a large waterfall and had a soothing constant flow of water to help us fall asleep.

when we woke up around 9am, we were next to a beautiful lagoon which was at the bottom of some large glaciers and mountains. we had arrived in the dead of night and had no idea where we had set up camp in relation to our surroundings, other than the small campground we reached with the help of my GPS. it was freezing, probably in the low 30s but it would quickly warm up. we took some photos and headed back out of the lagoon area, back onto the mountain we scaled night before.

this hike would bring us through rivers, snow, large mountains, and canyons in what the most diverse landscape i’ve seen. we were told that we would find very little people on this trek, and have most of it to ourselves, but otherwise had no idea as to how challenging the trail would be. it was incredible to think of all the life there was around us and that we had it all to ourselves. the air had to be the freshest and purest air i have ever smelled. after 10 miles we reached the end of the paso de la oveja and ended up on a small farm, where a farm hand who spoke very little english called us a cab for a 20 minute ride back into town

our feet were swamped and bodies were torn, but. the pictures do not do any justice but i tried to capture as much of the beauty as i could. waking up the next day my body was soar and feet still killed me a bit, but the feeling of accomplishment i got from the past 2 days is hard to describe. it was amazing to truly disconnect. when i think back, all that was in my mind was thinking about the next few footsteps ahead of me and how beautiful our surroundings were.

highlights from the trek

the many terrains we crossed

rewind….the first day of hiking took us to a lagoon and glacier. we saw about 20 people the entire time, about half were a group of israelis. the trees were in their fall peak which we were expecting with coming in the fall, when it also a lot less crowded. we had a taxi drop us off, and he was supposed to pick us up at 6pm, but we were 30 minutes late and we never met him. thankfully, there was a group behind us and we hitched a ride back into town – about a 15 minute drive. they spoke very little english so it was a pretty quiet ride.

some of day one

after spending 3 days in ushuaia, were up el calafate for some recovery. we’ll see perito moreno glacier, and then head up to el chalten for a few nights of camping. then, we are set to take a bus up towards bariloche where we will stop in some small towns along the way. more to come…

all images © 2019 dan greenberg.

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