My Hiking Adventure: Patagonia

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I’ve always loved hiking. Over the course of my life, I’ve spent a lot of time hiking in many great places. One place that has always been on my horizon are the trails of the continent of South America. I’ve taken a few trips here and there. When I was in college, I went to Machu Picchu with a few friends. We had a great time. Peru is an incredible country. We also went to the beaches in Brazil for spring break one year. So when I heard a group of friends were planning to head back to South America, I jumped at the chance. As a chef, I love exploring new worlds and new cultures. My restaurant generally hits a low season during the late winter. This is when I give my staffers some time to regroup and relax.

 

Before I went

 

Over the years, I’ve learned that it is important to pack well before you leave. You need to know what kind of climate is likely in the given area. One of the attraction of Patagonia is that the weather is generally on the cool side. I prefer it slightly temperate. Bring on the cold is one of my mottos. This is why I made sure I had the right gear before I left. My old hiking boots were in mediocre condition so I bought a new pair. I also made sure I had the right outerwear. A good coat is a must. The same is true of the right kind of gloves and a really good scarf.

 

Dressing is layers is your best bet under circumstances like these. Snow and high winds are a natural part of life in Patagonia. Winds can be very intense. That’s also why I brought a tent I knew could stand up to the weather and still offer the protection I needed. I opted for a few extras. My hat was also all about helping keep my head shaded from the sun. The sun can be very intense down there. I didn’t want to worry about it all the time.

 

My health is also important. That’s why I had a general checkup and the disc replacement surgery I needed before I left. I felt ready to tackle any challenges.

Picking an Itinerary

 

Patagonia is incredibly vast. It’s about two-thirds the size of the state of Alaska. You’re seeing two countries in one place. I had a few goals. I wanted to be around both Chile and Argentina. I also wanted to make the most of my two weeks off. I found pulling it off incredibly easy and amazingly fun. With my three friends, we saw so much.

 

We started in Buenos Aires then flew to El Calafate. After that, it was a shuttle to El Chalten. We all took a few hours to rest up. The next day, it was off to Cerro Torre, an amazing park with an easy eighteen kilometer hike. We were exhausted so we hit the sack and got up the next day to see the condors and watch the mountains at our feet. After that, it was day four and time to move on.

 

The Glacier and The Mountains

 

Day five was devoted to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Days six to twelve were all about the Torres del Paine National Park. It was astonishingly beautiful and utterly pristine. We spent hours just walking around this incredible Chilean park each day. In the process, we met people from all over the world. The tall cliffs of French Valley were a particular favorite with an easy climb. Local lakes were another highlight. Dickson Lake was especially stunning. Despite its name Grey Lake was actually full of color and light. The vivid red firebush plants stood out against the sky.

 

Then it was back to Punta Arenas for the last two days to recover from all that hard hiking. We went to visit the penguins in the wild at amazing Magdalena Island off the coast. I’ll never forget my trip to this part of the world. It was everything i’d hoped for and even more. I’d like to get back there again very soon.