We returned to Argentina, on foot from Chile, via the infamous one-way, week-long, Paso Leon trek (see previous posts). Needless to say we were fantasizing about hot showers, comfy beds and unhealthy foods! We walked from the border to the closest dirt road, then got transport to the bus stop on Ruta 40 from there, where we hopped on a bus South to El Bolson.
El Bolson is a small wanabee-hippy town known for its craft beers and accessible, scenic hiking. We found a hostel and quickly adressed our dire hygiene situation with a much-needed shower and laundry, where they wouldn’t accept our stinky socks! That evening we treated ourselves to a few well-deserved beers and greasy hamburgers until late, at a classic rock bar with a big outdoor terrace.
The next morning we made ourselves a big fry-up breakfast and spent the day on administrative stuff (internet, calling family, buying bus tickets and inquiring about treks in the area, shopping for food and withdrawing cash, which always seems to be quite a feat in Argentina), while Juliette and Louis went to the arts market and shopping for summer clothes, as they were heading up North!
The next day we said our goodbyes: they were going to Baricloche, and then to the Chilean coast from there, in search of warmth and sunshine, after 2 cold months camping in Patagonia. It was now our turn to camp in the cold! We took a taxi to the start of the Hielo Azul trail (meaning Blue Ice), that took us to a refuge in the forest by a river dowstream of the Hielo Azul glacier. We walked super fast as, apart from the most rickety footbridge in the world, the path was amazing, compared to what we had been through on the Paso Leon trek: wide, clear, well-marked and dry!
We passed through dense shrub-land and forests populated with the furtive Magellan Woodpecker, striking with its bright red head.We stopped for lunch at the highest point of the hike, taking in the clear view.
We camped at the refugio, rekindling a dying fire in the spot we chose. It was very cold that night, we went to bed just after Moon-rise.
The next day we walked up to the pass which overlooked Hielo Azul glacier, and the sparsely-vegetated valley we came through.
The glacier was mainly white and the rest covered in soil, so didn’t really fit its name. We really had to look closely to find patches of blue ice. We had lunch there and chilled a few hours in the sunshine, just enjoying the view.
We left early the following day, having to rush back down the 1000m, 16km slope to be at the trailhead before lunchtime in hope of finding a taxi back to town before the departure of our bus to El Chalten. It was a beautiful day, and the trail was deserted.
We could have spent many more days here, time-permitting. Renaud sprained his ankle again, but fortunately, just as we arrived. We were lucky to find a taxi just in time, and grateful for the warm, dry, rest-time in store during our 22-hour bus ride.