Racing the Storms down the Rio Blanco to El Pilar
El Chalten Travel Blog› entry 15 of 20 › view all entries
I woke up early this morning hoping that there would be a partial clearing to get a decent shot of FItzRoy as the sun rose. This meant setting the alarm at 5:00 AM and crawling out into the freezing pre-dawn chill. And of course it turned out to be for naught as clouds had completely enshrouded the mountain range off to our west. So it was back to my tent and sleeping bag to try to catch a few more Z's before breakfast.
Back up around 7:30 AM, and over to the dining tent to get some hot tea and breakfast. Packed up and got ready to move out. Walking back over to the lookout there is a faint rainbow radiating against the small hillside on the opposite side of the lake. FitzRoy and company are still lost amidst the clouds; in fact I would not catch a another glimpse of Cerro FitzRoy or Cerro Torre on the trip.
As Susan and Jim finished gathering their gear we departed the camp to make our way to the trail junction for the Mother/Daughter lakes and the Laguna de los Tres climb. A fabulous juxtaposition to look at the photo taken today and compare it to the one taken yesterday. In one the majestic FitzRoy massif with its multiple peaks and in the other a bank of clouds.
We take the only path from the junction that we have not previously travelled. Today we followed the Rio Blanco as it flows from Laguna Sucia down to the Rio Electrico. On the way we had views of Glaciar Piedra Blancas that according to David is quickly retreating from its past grandeur. It was still a magnificent view but one that was less intoxicating after all the sites of the previous two weeks. We continued trekking downstream and the clouds continued to thicken. Looking further northward as we trekked it appeared that you could see the rain already falling.
What was worse was that I was just not feeling motivated today. Even though the clouds obscured the majestic landscape views, there were still the quiet and close in views of the trees and flowers and rocks that we could see and explore. But my mind wasn't in it. All I really wanted to do was get down to the hosteria. But I patiently waited while Jim and Susan explored and took pictures and enjoyed the area. And all in all I still enjoyed everything as well.
Shortly after 1:00 we descended down to the same elevation as the river near where the Rio Blanco merged into the Rio Electrico. From there it was just a short walk (less than 1/2 mile) to Hosteria El Pilar.
Refreshed, I walked back out to the library and sitting area. The rain had started in full force and was now beating at the windows and the wind had returned full force. No more exploring on this day. I planted myself in the library with a glass of wine and wrote in my journal, paged through some of the books on the shelves and simply relaxed for a while on this epic journey. If there was one thing that El Pilar allowed it was that comfortable feeling of simply doing nothing without any guilt or grief from anyone.
Dinner and desert was very good tonight (although not much in the way of choice out here in the middle of nowhere). After chatting for a while with Jim and Susan and some of the other guests at this small inn the glasses of wine were starting to effect me. Sleepy, I decided to head for my room and finish the recharging process that had been going on since mid-afternoon with a restful night's sleep.