‘People don’t hike this trail on their own. You should go with a group. There are no way markers’, states the NP Nahuel Huapi-Officina worker, when I ask where to register my trip.
‘I’m an experienced hiker. I’ve been hiking sola through La Cordillera for three months, often without any marking or trail. I carry a GPS and a Spot satellite-locator. I want to hike to trail’, I reply.
Reluctantly the lady shows me the public PC, opens a web-page and says that’s the place to register. OK, this I could have done at any other random place.
After this I head to the Mountains Club Officina to reserve the bus to the starting point of my trip, Pampa Linda. ‘That’s a difficult trail you’re going to hike. You aren’t supposed to hike alone. Have you registered with the Nahuel Huapi Officina. What do they say about it’, states the girl. ‘Yes, I have registered and they say it’s okay’, I respond.
The next morning the bus brings me back to Pampa Linda, the end point of my previous stage, and the starting point of the Ruta de 5 Lagunas: a five-day trip through Parque Nahuel Huapi from Pampa Linda to Colonia Suiza
It’s about 11.30 when I leave the beautiful Pampa. The first sight, Laguna Ilón, is a popular destination; the path is marked and well worn by the many hikers. It takes me two and a half hours to reach to, that’s half of the time noted on the signs. At the Laguna, overlooking growling Cerro Tronador, it’s pleasantly busy with hikers and campers.
It’s way too early to stop hiking, so I decide to hike to the next, nameless, lake located between two campsites. On the map it seems like a perfect camping spot and it seems a nice and doable goal for today.
Besides a short hike through a swampy maze and a climb, the trail isn’t particularly challenging. The weather is still un-Patagonian beautiful, the views are breathtaking and Cerro Tronador occasionally lets go of a grunt or a roar.
The lake without a name is stunning, there are a few bivouac sites and it’s quiet; tonight I’m the only guest. Yeah!
That night it rains. A lot. It cold too. The next morning I leave the site late (or Argentinian style).
Leaving the lake with no name, first there’s a hike with stunning views, also on deep down belows’.
After the descent the unavoidable climb to the next pass.
Here I’m a bit stubborn, ignoring the GPS-track and hiking downhill cross-country. After a while I decide it’s wiser, easier, saver and faster to return to the route.
According to the La Officina de Parque-Mrs. and the Mountain Club-girl this trail is unmarked and hard to find. Actually, there is a kind a of trail, there are other hikers’ traces and footprints, there are cairns and on the most stony and unclear parts are waymarked. Oh, and navigating with the help of GPS and Locus-App makes getting lost here almost impossible…
Since the weather is turning I continue my way to Laguna CAB, today’s goal, swiftly. First there’s the crossing of a swampy valley and after this the crossing of some pretty rocky mountains. Finding the trail/route in these conditions is challenging. The pass, however is visible.
After reaching a windy and cold pass I quickly descend to the Laguna.
In order to reach the lake and the campsite there’s a descent Argentinian style; a messy path, quite steep, covered with large stones and at the end a struggle through unwilling vegetation.
Meanwhile it starts to rain. Upon arriving at the campsite I manage to pitch Tarptent and cook a late lunch/early dinner in record time. Shortly after crawling in my palace, heavy and ice-cold showers are falling. I’m counting on a really, really cold night.
More on the Ruta de 5 Lagunas at Wikiexplora.
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