Beautiful vista during the hike
Okay - here goes writing this for the second time. I wrote this in a different internet café, and the window locked up as I was writing it...
So Friday, my first full day here in Bariloche, I woke up early and hiked up to “Cerro Otto.” I brought my bookbag with my camera, a book, some TP, a nalgene of water, some granola bars, and some crackers, que preparado! I was feeling good after the first kilometer hike from my hostel to the base of the mountain, but I couldn’t find the trail. I ended up asking a man on the side of the road, but that didn’t help much. I found a car path up the mountain and some random paths that shot off it, so I took those.
I criss-crossed my way up the mountain, taking different paths and finding amazing vistas. After an hour or two I came across a four-wheeler path and a huge open field, where I proceeded to drop all my belongings and run around like a madman (Brian and Sheldon - remember the woods in Pisgah? lol). I continued up the mountain and eventually found some barbed wire. After realizing I was definitely on the wrong side, I crossed over and found the road again. I came to the entrance of “Piedras Blancas,” where I was eager to find out about the rock climbing that I heard you could do there. The place seemed more or less like a ghost town except for a few workers doing repairs. I asked one of the guys working there if there was a place where I could rock climb or rent some gear, and he pointed me up the road.
So much for the great Piedras Blancas! I kept following the road and came across a rough path that looked to cut down a little and across the face of the mountain. A kilometre down the path found me at what appeared to be an abandoned house with a sign that said “Refugio.” After walking around the house and looking the windows (a door was ajar, but I didn’t go in), a cat and dog bounded up to me. I fed the cat, who became my hiking companion up the mountain a little farther, climbing trees and bounding past me the whole way. I came back down to the refugio and, while feeding the dog, I began to hear a bell ringing. It became louder and louder until a man appeared with two dogs and two goats (with bells around their necks) who asked if some guy was in the house.
I told him I hadn’t seen anyone and he continued on his way. A mysterious encounter, haha. I continued up a different path on the mountain, and found a ski center that appeared to be closed as well. I tried the door anyway, and it opened right up. A man came out from the back and we small-talked and I asked if he had any coffee. He said he had nothing but hot chocolate, and I eagerly accepted (it was near freezing the whole day). I got cozy in front of the fire with a book and placed my shoes and socks next to the fire to dry out. Valeri came back with the hot chocolate and we talked for about half an hour. Quite an interesting man - a ski instructor who moved to Argentina many years ago.
my friends at the abandoned house
He used to only come to Bariloche in the winter time for the ski season, but now he lives there permanently. He seemed like a lonely guy, but he said he always had lots of work to keep him busy, clearing trees with trucks and such. After a while we said goodbye and I continued up the mountain toward a big rotating restaurant that I could see at the very top. All the main paths were closed and blocked off, and as I tried to find my way around them, I ran into 3 beautiful English speaking girls. We eventually made it to the top and I had some delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice with Izza from England, Kristen from Australia, and Erica from New York.
The 360 degree rotating mountain-top view while we ate (food we brought with us) was breathtaking. We started down the mountain together, and as we approached Piedras Blancas, some of my friends from Buenos Aires - one girl from my resi and her friends that I went out with my first night in BA - rode past on horses! I knew they were going to Bariloche, but it was pretty crazy to randomly see them up in a mountain. Outside Piedras Blancas a dog started following us, and kept following us the whole way. For a good part of the time he was in the lead and we just followed him down, lol. At one point we got a little daring and went down some steep rock - Kristen ended up on her back in tree, haha, it was great (she wasn’t hurt).
the closed refugio
We made it down the mountain and came to my hostel to see if their friend Sean was staying there, he wasn’t. We made plans for later that night and I took a shower and went to sleep. I woke up about 8, got dressed, picked up a bottle of wine, and headed over to their hostel for a big birthday party they were having for their friend. It was a lot of fun - home cooked pizzas, a delicious cake, and tons of fascinating people from all over the world. Their hostel even had a huge group of 6 to 12 year olds staying in it, but they were actually sociable and entertaining, not annoying. I left a little after midnight because I was exhausted and knew I was getting up early to go biking the next day. Overall an absolutely amazing day, quite an adventure, one I won’t forget in a while. I’ve got to go back to the hostel now and get ready to go, my bus back to BA leaves in an hour. I’ll fill you in on yesterday’s bicycle adventure later. :) Love you guys! -Derek
near the closed refugio and the top of the mountain, with my cat friend following me