Mount Fitzroy Trek - Hiking from Lago de los Tres & Lago Sucia
What a difference a day makes. While yesterday seemed so bleak, the thought that the weather we were experiencing was going to last the whole trip probably made it worse than the actual experience. It is possible that our early weather-aborted attempt to see penguins added unnecessarily to our fears and set us up to be pessimistic.
We set our alarms for 5:50 to catch the sunrise. I was able to predict it perfectly, because of my GPS taking the guesswork out of things. The sky was crystal clear. Kirk & I ran out to a spot we picked the night before. As I was setting up, a fox walked right up to me. It was the closest I have ever been to one. He stared right at me, unfazed by my presence. Too bad the camera wasn't ready. While I didn't get the fox, we were treated to a magnificent sunrise. Mt Fitzroy's towering granite peak rose high in the sky and glowed in a pinkish bath of early morning light.
We hung out for over an hour, watching the valley light up and then headed back to camp. We wanted an early start so that we could do two day hikes before our luck with the weather might change. We aimed for Lago de Los Tres, a challenging hike, but supposedly well worth it. Considering two months ago I wasn't able to walk, my foot was holding up pretty well. While it ached, it wasn't getting worse. Today would be the test.
The path was a 1/2 mile from camp and then straight up 500 meters (about 1600 feet) While the trail was by no means long, it was unrelenting. Maybe it was because I was out of shape, but it really hit me hard. We climbed up, relatively slow, but steady. After about an hour and a half, we reached our goal: twin lakes, Mt. Fitzroy, glaciers, pretty much everything you could ask for. Life was good & getting better. We were pretty much both wiped, so we ate our snacks and basked in the view, especially the reflections on the lakes when the wind was kind enough to mellow. After way too many photos, we headed back to camp for lunch. On the trail down, weary trekkers looked at us with puppy dog eyes asking how much longer. While my Spanish is pretty terrible, I do know my numbers. However, the weary trekkers did not seem to like my numbers and offered alterative much smaller numbers as a suggestion. Lunch was peanut butter tortias. I never thought they would taste so good, but we were starving. After scarfing down our food, we hurried off to trek again as we were still lucking out with great clear weather.
The 2nd hike was to the Lago de Sucia and it was full of surprises. First lesson was that we really needed to read the guidebook more carefully. I thought it was supposed to be an easy stroll. After an easy half mile back down the main trail to the trail head we first had issues even finding the trail. Once we did, it wasn't long before we were second guessing our way as it wound down to the river. It seemed like the trail died at the river there, however there were carins (small piles of rock) marking what was supposed to be a trail. Honestly, the only way you could call it a trail is because there were markers, because the ground itself gave no indication a trail existed. The scary thing is we were still on the easy part.
After another mile, we hit a dead end, which at least gave us a new great view of the river and Fitzroy. While we were there, a duck like bird came swimming up the river against a strong greenish current of glacial melt. Watching the little guy struggle upstream was a blast. We shot lots of pics. I can't believe I forgot to pull my video camera out. It would have been perfect. For a while it looked like he was stuck, then it seemed like he was fishing, then bam he made it up higher. He put the salmon to shame.
Back to the dead end. We saw two climbers traverse some rocks. I tried, but quickly decided no way. Later another group came by and took a more reasonable route, so we gave it a try and succeeded. However, now the trail, I mean river of boulders, was fairly treacherous. We slowly marched forward as it shouldn't have been much further to the lake. We made it without incident and reached Lago de Sucia. It was aqua with Fitzroy, more glaciers, and waterfalls towering above it. Minutes after we arrived we heard a bam, (Emeril would be proud) and we were in for a new treat as the glaciers avalanched on the far side of the lake. The snow and ice came crashing down in the waterfall and splashed into the lake.
We hung out for an hour, our own private lake - no a single other person was there the entire time - and watched the cascading waterfalls one after another. Eventually we ate all our food and headed back to camp. Along the way we passed a few other hikers all looking as we must have, wondering if they were on the right trail, hell any trail. We assured them it was worth it.
The way back was equally treacherous, but we slowly, carefully worked our way back to camp. We cooked dinner, ate dinner, and then decided to cook the breakfast we missed and ate that too. Needless to say our spirits were much higher now after what Kirk and I feel was one of the single best days of hiking we have ever ambled.
The story continues...