Bear Grylls eat your heart out

El Bolson Travel Blog

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I came to El Bolson, a couple of hours south of Bariloche on Sunday afternoon. It´s known as a hippy hangout and has a sign in the middle of town declaring it a non-nuclear zone. It´s also a very good place to go walking in the mountains, with ranges on both sides. On Monday morning I set off with Amy, an english girl I met in the hostel the previous night, to climb up to Refugio Hielo Azul at 1300m. From the trailhead, it´s a walk of 15km, entirely steep uphill climbing, but with me setting a hell of a pace we did it in 4 hours (the sign suggested approximately 7 hours walking). The refuge was a nice log cabin, especially cozy around the iron stove that served to heat up pans and kettles.

I stayed up in the cabin, Amy froze outside in her tent.

Today I wanted to go back to get the bus to Puerto Madryn, but decided to take another route down for a change of scenery, rather than coming back the same way. The first half hour was obscenely steep climbing. At the top of this, there was a lot of snow and I was often thigh deep and to compound this I wasted an hour trying to refind the trail after the markers disappeared. When I did find it again, it disappeared almost immediately and then I was very lost. So began a very testing 3 or 4 hours, heading down the hill and trying to follow one or two of Bear Grylls´survival tips. One of those is follow a stream down hill, except my stream turned into a ranging torrent with very steep river banks and appeared to be heading towards a waterfall. So I climbed away from there and bashed my way through the undergrowth as if it wasn´t there, although the scratches on my face and arms and legs prove it was. Luckily I found the path at the bottom, next to the river we crossed at the bottom of the valley to start the trek yesterday, but much further upstream. While I was sitting down for some lunch and drinking from the river, a refuge worker strolled past and offered to show me the way back. That saved me a lot of time and enabled us to get the only bus of the day back from the trail end! Hooray, safe and sound! Maybe one day I´ll look back and laugh it off, but today was horrible!

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Refugio Hielo Azul (the blue ice r…
Refugio Hielo Azul (the blue ice …
El Bolson
photo by: scacos2006