This is meant to be the ‘best hike’ in El Chalten, so we kept if for the one reasonably good day we had in El Chalten. Setting out in the morning, things looked promising. There was sun and some clouds. But as the path wound its way up slowly, more clouds started appearing and it became a bit of a race against time. Unfortunately we know that at the end was a rather steep slope. We’d been warned “500m of elevation over a distance of 2km. It’s not for the faint hearted”.
The mathematician in me had already calculated, 500m in 2km, means 250 of height over 1km.. That’s not nothing, but it’s not deadly either… What the guy at the park entrance didn’t tell us is that the 500m are actually distributed as follows: roughly 100m on the first kilometer and then 400m on the second. It was partially big rocks, partially loose gravel, partially an attempt to create steps… It was long, it was hard, but I made it up just in time to see the final bit of blue sky disappear. It didn’t matter, I was exhausted. I sat down, had lunch and just lay there for a while, looking at El Chalten in its massiveness. By the time I felt ready to explore again, the sky was already clearing up again.
Walking around I soon discovered that there is more than one lake, a second one, a lot lower than the one I was at, was visible from a lookout point on a little hill to the left. Much more turquoise, I finally understood why the laguna we were at was called “La sucia”. It just couldn’t compete with the other laguna. I spent a good three hours up at the laguna. I would’ve spent more time, but I also didn’t wanted to be able to enjoy the way back home.
The path is very well maintained, it’s fortified with wood or stones along many parts of the way. There’s wooden bridges along the way and in the thick of the bushes someone has, lovingly, cut back the little branches one by one to clear a path.. The only drawback here being that the Argentinians don’t seem to expect anyone of more than 1.70m of height… So the nicely cut path ends just short of my face and leaves my head fending for itself through the thick bushes.
On the final meters of the hike, I was also lucky enough to see one of the great woodpeckers I’d been told about. Black with a complete red head, they seem to be quite common around here.. At least you hear them regularly.. A little punk, a little rebel, they’re just cute too look at.