Patagonia - Terra Del Fuego - Laguna Esmerelda - Day 6 / by Mark Boyd

I parked the car up on a lay by at the side of the main highway.... Safe and secure?  Maybe....

Breakfast had consisted of the normal Thermos cooked quinoa porridge with apple, almond and honey.  It wasn't a lot for a 7 hour trek but it would suffice.  It was 8am and the temperature was a chilly 5 degrees celcius....

The path was wet and muddy, exactly as I'd read on blogs written by other travelling folks.  Angela had half decent footwear, but I doubted they would be resistant to water, which could potentially make for an uncomfortable day.  But she knew the risks!



Angela knew I liked to walk alone, liked my own space, liked to be at one with nature.  She respected the peace and quiet of the trees, which I have to thank her for. 



During the first couple of days I asked what had happened to her volume control.  I'd be sitting beside her and she would be talking sooooo loudly.... and continually.... Hahahahaha!  She seemed to have relaxed a little and was content with extended periods of quiet.

My walking pace was faster than Angela so I naturally extended a few minutes lead.  I'd wait from time to time to allow her to catch up, especially if there was a fork or junction in the trail.  I was using a map on my iPhone to ensure we remained on the trail.

Eventually the trees opened up..... and what a view!


We walked across the old, rotting board walk, leaping cautiously across particularly boggy areas.  My boots were Gore-Tex but I still wanted to keep them as dry and possible....


An area of squelchy, boggy land appeared, with no particular trail markings.  It was simply a case of picking one's way through, leaping from grassy turret to turret, always moving forward.  Standing still to make a decision about where to leap next involved sinking.... It was a game of trekking chess, always thinking at least two moves ahead!  Angela struggled, and ended up with wet feet.


The track climbed.... and the temperature dropped.... the trail almost disappeared....


The MapsMe application on the iPhone kept us moving in the right direction at least....


The sky darkened and a flurry of icy, wind driven snow hit.... Angela began to fall behind...


Then a partnership of extremely boggy, marshland combined with existing snowfall meant feeling one's way..... Angela was at least 15 minutes behind me on this section.  She was grumpy.... Having to pick her way over the higgle-dee-piggled-dee sopping wet surface.  It was also very cold now.  Each time I'd stop and wait the chill would seep in around my underlayers.  I was glad for my hat!  I donated my gloves to Angela.... Which were already wet from stumbling and putting her hands down in the snow.  As she caught up I reminded her that this was her idea..... She grumbled and talked about walking down the nearest almost vertical slope to the path at the bottom of the valley.  I told her I'd take a GPS location reading of her body where her broken body lay on my way back in a couple of hours when I'd picked up the 'bottom of the valley' trail section.  She forced a smile realising that she was being totally unreasonable.  And we were almost there. 

 Grumpy Girl in Tow.....

Grumpy Girl in Tow.....

I donated my white Milka chocolate to the cause and this seemed to bring an immediate lift in Angela's spirits.  I sat and waited whilst she composed herself mentally and physically.


As the snow continued to fall we pushed upwards.  The map seemed to be taking us on an unmarked trail, but I think the problem was that due to snow we just couldn't see the trail.


We ended up going up and up and up..... Until we reached down and down and down..... and it was steep and a little dangerous. 


I urged Angela to take care and to use her hands..... Getting an injured person out of here would be a nightmare!


Following 45 minute of clambering around bushes, thickets and snow on an almost vertical 100m high embankment we reached the valley floor.  According to the map we were only 10 minutes from the Laguna!  Yay!


An the map was almost spot on!


The walk back out took us across more marshland.... Fun?  Not in the slightest.  Back tracking to find walkable routes was a pain in the backside.  Even my boots had become damp....



The weather had improved.  The afternoon sun felt warm, but I think the warmth was as much to do with physical exertion as the sunshine.

 The Guided Groups on the 3 hour 'Same way there and back' route began to appear.....

The Guided Groups on the 3 hour 'Same way there and back' route began to appear.....

A little off trail exploration allowed me to find a way through the trees bypassing the wet mess, and it wasn't long until we were back on a wet not quite so mucky trail.... Angela was still being a little grumpy and obnoxious, which lead to her losing me (picked a different route to what the map indicated).  We met 15 minutes later back on the side of the highway.....

The trek, with backtracking to find passable sections, picking our way through delays and my waiting on Angela every twenty minutes or so took exactly 7 hours as the guide suggested.  Alone I'd have easily completed it in 5.5 hours..... The scenery was impressive and the walk was a good challenge.  All in all a good day!  

At the car we pulled off our wet boots and but them on the parcel shelf under the back windscreen.... It was 3pm..... We needed to drive North!