“Brutal” is the word I would use to describe our second Patagonian hike. At least, the actual walking part was brutal. The views were magnificent.
We’d hiked 8 hours the day before. Even though I had worked out for months leading up to the trip, it either wasn’t enough, or I had been doing the wrong exercises, or all the elevation changes the day before simply tired my muscles out too soon.
Despite the pain, I was determined to forge on. Lured with the promise of “your body will get used to it,” I pushed myself to make it to the first mirador (lookout point).
Satisfied that I had seen Fitz Roy in all its glory, and satisfied that my body was not going to get used to the pain, I was ready to head back. But I allowed myself to be persuaded, “just try a little bit more.”
The hike was wetter than the Laguna Torres hike we’d done the day before, encountering several bridges as we passed through marshy areas on the De la Cascada river. At another point we passed through a giant boulder field, making us feel like ants crawling over gravel.
We encountered a kind Argentinian gentleman who gave us the South American equivalent to ibuprofen. My own supply had been exhausted for the day. It helped, mostly by healing my spirit.
We arrived at the warning sign, and buoyed by the goodwill and mystery medicine, we continued. The incline rose sharply, as did the temperature. I’d started the day with several layers, and now I stripped down to the base. Albert bounded up the narrow stairs with unrelenting energy. The trail was more populated at this point, due to the proximity of a couple camps, so we didn’t stop him from continuing without us. Certain that he’d be safe, I didn’t want him to be too frustrated by my slow progress as the pain crept back. Joe stayed with me as I stopped every 15 minutes to curse at him. But I knew we were much too close to the end to turn around.
Finally we reached the top, where the weather had changed back to cold and windy. Time to relax and enjoy how far we’d come.
We peeked at Laguna Sucia to the south, took a few pictures, ate lunch, and headed back. The trail splits towards the middle. On the way up, we’d taken the north route; the way back passed by Laguna Capri. As we paused by the shore, Albert took off his shoes. His luggage had yet to arrive, and he’d been hiking without the right socks or his roomier boots for the past two days. The blisters he produced were immense. I was impressed by that he hadn’t uttered a single word about his feet.
Listening to someone whine is not a fun experience, and I’ve withheld details for that very reason. But speaking up when one needs a break isn’t the same thing. Getting seriously injured and being unable to move at all is not a situation you want to be in while out in the wilderness. Rest when
you need to.
And let my naiveté serve as a warning. I should have stayed in that day. I don’t feel proud of what I accomplished, I feel guilt at endangering myself and my fellow hikers. If you’re not feeling 100% before a long hike like this, don’t do it. Not even for a spectacular view.