We had a bit of a shakey start in Bariloche. We booked to go for a full day´s kayaking on the Sunday but they phoned to say that it would be too windy so would we mind just having a half day instead. We agreed to that but on reflection it was a mistake. They were supposed to pick us up at 9.30am but didn´t arrive until 10 – not a good start. We drove a short way to a lake in the mountains where we were provided with kayaks. It didn´t seem windy at all as we set off up the lake. It soon became apparent that we were going to have to keep waiting for one couple who had not done any kayaking before. Then after we had been paddling for about 40 minutes the guide suddenly did an about turn and we pulled up on a beach where we spent half an hour drinking coffee. Following this she said it was too windy to carry on and we just paddled back to the start. If I pay for a half day I expect to be on the water for more than 1 hour and 10 mins! So it was a very frustrating experience. But we spent the rest of the day planning and preparing for our hiking trip in the mountains – buying more pasta and noodles, that type of thing. The hostel was quite good except that a couple in the dorm insisted on turning our corner into a Chinese laundry by turning on the radiator next to our bunk (it is summer here) and dripping washing all over it. Then they closed the windows! I had a running battle turning the radiator off and opening the windows.
However on Monday we were all packed and ready to go and after waiting at the wrong bus stop for half an hour (Katie´s fault of course!) we finally caught a bus back out to the lake where we had been kayaking the previous day. We met a couple of lads who said they were going to the same place as us – they set off in the opposite direction and we never saw them again! At first we walked beside the lake and then after about 2km we headed off on the trail up through woods, calling in at a small waterfall on the way. There were lots of wild flowers along the way again, big orange daisies and what looked to me like clematis. The track was very dry and dusty and after about 5km we started ascending with a vengeance. I had requested a rest before the steep bit but we were at the top of it before I had my wish! When the trail levelled out we had lunch in the woods before carrying on, this time with no shade, up more steep tracks until we came to Refugio Frey, on a col near a blue lake. There were lots of climbers staying there and many were in action on the nearby rocky towers so we watched them for a while before pitching the tent down by the lake in a sheltered spot. All around were huge rock pinnacles and towers so we could see why the area was so popular with climbers. We, however, lazed about by the lake for the rest of the day. As the sun went down the surface of the lake was turned into a mass of sparkling jewels, dancing in the dying rays of the sun.
The next day at sunrise the lake was blood red for a little while. I think it must have been reflection off the rocks which are bit pinky in colour. Then we set off up the valley and faced our first climb of the day, up a scrambly scree slope to Laguna Schmoll. There was more enjoyable scrambling up to another col where the views were excellent of a green valley far below and mountains all around. In the winter this is a ski area so there are chair lifts etc on some of the moutains. Then the real fun started! I haven´t spent so much of a day on scree since we went to the Dolomites a few years ago (when my knees were that much younger). I hate scree at the best of times and this was a real killer. But after slithering about for what seemed like ages we arrived in some more woods in the valley for a well-earned rest. We strolled on through the woods for a while which was pleasant but then we had to climb up to another col (more scree). And then down another huge scree slope before we finally reached the refugio and the campsite at Laguna Jakob. I had a bit of a sense of humour failure when I saw the last lot of scree! It was a tough day, carrying all our camping gear and food and it was also very hot. But after a sit down by the lake we felt better.
It was to be our last night in the tent before I go home so it was quite sad really. The following morning we walked down a very pleasant valley, about 18km, to the road where we had a good piece of luck – the bus arrived at the end of the trail at the same time as us and we were soon back in Bariloche.
Before leaving for our hike we had tried to make a money transfer through Western Union to pay the deposit for our room in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately we had made a small spelling mistake on the form so the hostel could not collect the money. Then the Internet connection to Bariloche was lost and so we were unable to sort out the problem. I´m afraid I had had enough of hostels and I wanted to have a private room in Buenos Aires (en suite even!). It is not actually that expensive – only the equivalent of 20 pounds for the room including breakfast. But we didn´t know whether we had secured the room or not.
On Thursday we decided to go biking. There is a good bike ride called Circuito Chico near Bariloche. It is only about 30km and you can get off for a stroll or a sit on the beach every now and then – my sort of biking! The bikes we had were excellent this time, in very condition, with 24 gears (all of which worked). The circuit goes round several lakes in the mountains so is quite up and down. Some of the hills were very long so I´m afraid I had to push a couple of times while Katie managed to pedal all the way.
Then on Friday we were back on the bus for another mammoth journey to Buenos Aires. We set off at 10am and arrived here at about 7am on Saturday morning. But the bus was luxurious and what we had was in fact the cheaper version. The seats were fully reclining, with leg rests and we were provided with meals and drinks as well. And a wierd selection of films including one in which Bruce Willis kept getting killed which I found quite gratifying. Before we had set off from Bariloche I had managed to contact our B and B and discovered that they were indeed saving our room for us – what a relief. So we have a really nice room all to ourselves, our own bathroom, proper towels and so on, all close to the centre of Buenos Aires.Tags: 1, Tag Index