El Chalten

The town of El Chalten is mostly hostels. It exists only because it's close to several trailheads. Hardcore backpackers are the only people that come here, many with oversize backpacks that would intimidate a Marine. About half looked Argentine. The rest were from all over Europe. No Americans but me.

I made a point of speaking to everyone in Spanish, even if they were from the UK. Found that I resent people speaking English in Argentina as much as I resent people speaking Spanish in the US (mental note: when I'm fully fluent in Spanish, will I still resent this?)

My first trek took me over the hill in the foreground, left through the valley between the hills, and to the glacier and lake at the base of the jagged mountain on the left.


I found that many people have a smattering of English, but my Spanish is a little better, so they're perfectly willing for me to be the one stumbling arround. In asking for a taxi to my lodge (which was within walking distance as it turned out), I made the silliest blunder of the trip. Instead of "infinitosur" I asked for a taxi to "infinitivosur". Hey, I'm a good Spanish student! Nobody batted an eye.

The front desk lady commented "You speak better than you understand". "Como todos los hombres", I told her.

(Well--there was the time in the Salta airport where I was reading the poster about the war against the Spanish, and assumed that realistas meant "realists". Eventually I remembered that real means "royal".

Spartan room...you're seeing the whole thing. Spent at least 8 hrs each day on one of the trails, so I didn't see a whole lot of it.


Dictionary translation. The best one--and I can't find the pic--was a sign about "don't undress on the bus". "Prohibida sacarse la vestamenta" came out "Prohibited the gown to be extracted".
Naval prefecture? Whatever.


Logs over the boggy part of the valley. I was thinking "This looks like the forest in New Zealand where Peter Jackson shot Lothlorien", then "God, I'm jaded".

This is the latitude of the Roaring 40s--the 1700s mariners named it because there's little land mass to obstruct the wind, which is usually close to gale force. Had a strong headwind going up, tailwind going back.

Had a hare-and-tortise relationship with these guys--they walked faster but rested longer, so I kept overtaking them. The 8-hour hike left me drained--much of it was steep. A couple of women were running this trek, which I can't imagine.

I'll call them Hiramettes. I've found that everywhere I hike--whether it's Koko Head in Hawaii or Old Rag Mountain in Virginia-someone 20 years older than me will blow by me. Started calling them "Hiram". (They guy on Koko Head yelled "Do this every day!" when he saw me boggling.)


I drank the water just in case giardia is the key to weight loss. Had a strong mineral taste.


Red rocks (cinnebar?) and lichens


Glacial rock rubble with melting snow stream in background.
Edge of glacial lake



Made it! Glacier in background, sawtooth mountain in clouds.





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