The beauty of Fitz Roy

I have walked more than 60km in the last three days. I am aching all over but very happy. Right now I feel I could keep walking on and on forever.
Of course, I couldn’t. I am no Olympiad. There would come a point when my muscles seized up, my knees gave way, my back began to ache and I started falling apart. But it is hard to believe the beauty of this place wouldn’t propel me along by some kind of magic.
I have spent the last few days exploring the river valleys, the wooded slopes, the rocky summits and the snaking glaciers of the Fitz Roy range in the Andes. And it is one of the most breathtaking landscapes I have ever had set foot on.
The land is much more verdant than the dark barren surroundings of El Calafate despite only being three hours away by bus.
The wide glacial valleys are rich with vegetation, its thirst quenched by babbling streams. Only the highest peaks remain bare, rising up from behind the softer green hills, their sharp rocks slicing into the blue sky like knives trying to prick the Gods.
Glaciers decorate their slopes feeding into lakes of such pure blue it was only the risk of imminent hypothermia that stopped me leaping in.
“I’m actually getting bored of looking at glaciers,” said the guy next to me as we stood looking down at another of these ruptured ice flows.
“I never thought I’d say that,” he continued. “But seriously, I’ve seen so many in the last week I’m getting a bit sick of them!”
It is true that I have ‘oooohed’ and ‘aaahhed’ at about six glaciers in half as many days. This is the Parque Nacional los Glaciares after all. And my companion had already completed a five day trek in a similarly glacier rich area of Chile.
I am not yet so jaded. The sight of a glacier, big or small, carving its way down a mountain still fills me with childish wonder.
The tiny town of El Chalten lies snug in a valley hemmed in on all sides by dramatic rock faces.
The town itself has little to offer beyond overpriced restaurants and cervecerias. It is like El Calafate’s younger cousin. But the locals seem wearied by the increasing number of visitors rather than pleased by the extra revenue it brings them.
It is the first time in Argentina I have received a less friendly reception.
However, the countryside that surrounds El Chalten more than compensates for anything the town lacking.
The trails are well marked and easy to follow and lead straight out of town so no need for a guide or any other annoying complications like buses or taxis.
You pack your bag, lace up your boots and are off, exploring enchanted green woods, marshes and grasslands, streams, rivers, lakes, steep rocky outcrops and hopefully the odd summit before you return home, flushed from the sun and the exercise, with the kind of exhausted contentment that guarantees a good night’s sleep.


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