Chaltern – Trekking

Hi everyone. I finaly found an Internet Cafe in Chaltern and have been able to read your comments. Thanks for them all. Sorry about any spelling mistakes, but it´s hard enough to grab time to write my journal anyway, without worrying about spelling. I´ve been doing most of my blogs while lying in bed in the morning and then sending them through my sat phone after breakfast. Sometimes it has been really hard to get contact with a sattelite, but generally, the system works OK.

Yesterday we completed our second trek to the Mt Fitzroy Base Camp. We started by getting some transport to a lodge further up the valley and then enjoyed a very pleasant walk up a river valley. Initally, the track just followed the river course, but for the next few hours, we walked through a lovely Beech forest. The Beech trees here are a liitle different to the ones that we know – they are less dense and the leaves are a little larger and not as leathery. The undergrowth consists otly of grass with a few shrubs and flowering plants.

We reached the Base Camp in time for lunch at 12.30. Whoever has been supplying us with our packed lunches has done a good job. Our morning plastic bags typically come with two focaccia type rolls filled with ham and cheese, muesli bars, an apple, chocoloate and a bottle of water. By lunch time it becomes very appealling.

From lunch we had to climb up to a ridge from where we could see Mt Fitzroy and its glaciers. I´m sorry that I can´t upload pictures but through my sat phone – they take too much time. I need to find a way to make the file size much smaller. I´ll have a go later at converting them to .gif files and see if that makes it easier.

Anyway, this climb was a bit tough. We had to climb about 1800 feet in a little over 1 1/2 kms. It was a warm day anhd we were out in the sun all the way and clambering over large rocks. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to the top but the view was magnificent. Coming down was just as hard and I remeberd the experience on the Kokoda Track of having ‘screaming knees’ (Rob and Dianne will understand that). However a couple of Ibuprovin tablets made a great difference).

The mountain peak was clear. It was like a big mango shaped block of granite rock that seemed to touch the sky. It was accompanied by some smaller towers which gave the impression that the major peak was supported by a series of infant towers. There were glaciers on the slopes below and a blue lake at the bottom. It was the sort of view that you couold sit and look at for hours and still feel that you had not taken it all in. In places we could see footsteps in the snow and ice wher climbers had travelled further up the climber’s base camp under the peak.

We didn’t get down back to the camp until about 4.00 pm and we still had 10 km to walk back to town. A couple of people in our group are more intersted in pottering along and looking at the flowers rather getting a move on, so they slow us down a lot. I managed to get a bit of a move on for the last few hours and walked at more of my normal walking pace and reached our hotel by about 7.00 pm. That meant that I had been walking for almost 10 hours!

From then it was off to the bar for a beer and extensive rehydration. Then for a shower and off to dinner at 9.30. We didn’t finish dinner until almost midnight and I think that I must have been asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Along with a couple of others, I´ve decided to forego today´s walk and rest my aching calf muscles so that I am fit enough to do another big walk in a few day´s time to the Towers of Paine. Today’s scheduled walk is to another part of an area that we have already seen, so I have caled today a rest day. I’ve arranged to catch the early bus to El Calafate and see if I can have a bit of a less energetic day.

This little town of Chalten (where I am now, before catching the bus) is an unexciting collection of different buildings built on a grid of unmade dusty streets. There is some interesting archtecture but apparently no strict building code. The town is beginning to sprawl along the valey. It doesn’t seem to have any central street – instead hotels, restaurants and stores are scattered randomy through the town. It reminds me a bit of Twizel in NZ.

I´ll report further from El Calafate. Tomorrow, we aoof to see on of the world´s great glaciers – the Perito Merino Glacier.

One comment

  1. Sounds great. But I have a question — how can you fit ham and cheese, muesli bars, an apple, chocoloate and a bottle of water into two focaccia type rolls? ‘Extensive rehydration’ — how many beers did it take? Is that why you forewent the next day’s walk?