Patagonia The adventure of a lifetime

Stepping out of the car after the three hour drive to El Chalten from El Calafate, I was hit by it; a wall of wind, frigid and unlwecoming. After the apparent warmth of the desert, the cold served as a stark reminder that we had left familiarity far behind and were now in a foreign land ruled by massive mountains. The Fitz Roy range forms a bowl around El Chalten, its icy peaks staring down without sympathy on the many backpackers and climbers that fill the streets. As we drove along the Rio de Las Vueltas, the river that runs alongside El Chalten, the appearance of tourists, cars and shops did nothing to alleviate the sense of ancient power exuded by the snowy peaks that pierce the clouds like giant swords.

For 17 kilometers we bumped along the dirt road until reaching Los Huemules, where we would spend the next week. The cabin we had rented – more vacation getaway – came equipped with a fireplace, parilla, and 360 degrees views.

After getting settled in, we set out to explore the wilderness that made up the preserve. Walking through the forests awoke an echo of familiarity as well as a feeling of walking back in time. With each turn of the trail I half-expected to see one of the dinosaurs for which Argentina is so famous.

We hiked up to a lake nestled between two ridges, its border encircling it with hills. The winds sweeping over the lake seemed to have lives of their own. With each gust they touched the water creating fan-like ripples that interconnected and danced on the surface, seeming to play with each other like children. As the sun sank over the lip of the valley, the mountains fell to the storms.

Each night the winds changed from the mellow breezes that whispered among the trees to howling beasts with bodies of snow and teeth of ice. They fought with everything around them, trying to uproot the sturdiest of trees and rocks. Each morning, the remnants of the night's battle littered the ground as snow and ice. The few people that lived here year round had carved a tenuous hold for themselves. Unlike so many other places man had made his own, the barren landscape refused to be conquered.

Created By
Saša Plichta

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