The beauty of El Chaltèn is that it resides within the park boundaries, the same National Park that houses the Perito Moreno Glacier at its other extremity, us, here, on the northern edge of Los Glaciares, a place less frequented by the masses and more our cup of tea.
We are smitten, Fitz Roy greeting us with a hefty hello from the entrance, not a cloud to be seen, the total opposite of our introduction to Torres del Paine, and damn, I am most definitely a sunny weather kind of gal.
Our plan is pretty fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, for we think we want to start with Cerro Torre and end with Fitz Roy by way of some private land crossing, but Ranger José convinces us otherwise with the prices he lists for the venture out of park land into someone else’s square of paradise, enough of an entry fee to have us reshuffle our three-day circuit.
No matter, for the other beauty of Fitz Roy is that it is small and manageable, most of this routes accessible to eager beaver day hikers, meaning that for us backpackers, it’s quite alright to allow for last minute planning and route revising, especially since the terrain is relatively flat.
(I don’t know if anyone’s told you, but let me let you in on a little secret–Patagonia’s well-traveled spaces are surprisingly easy to access, both in terms of transportation and trekking, peaks shooting out of flat-ish ground in vertiginous elevation, sure, but the trekkable circumference is pleasantly even, a Patagonian Mesa Trail, if you will.
For climbers, it’s another story, one riddled with he said, he said about who really summited and who didn’t touch the mushroom tip.)
So, now, our plan becomes something else, and all we really need to tend to is food, of which, actually, we have remnants from Torres del Paine, luckily, because I somehow ignore the voice in my head that says, “get food in Calafate because Chalten has nada.”
And, indeed, the little store parading around as a supermercado barely holds a candle to a 7 Eleven, Graham and I left to make meals out of crackers, sauce and bruised apples, our appearance fortuitous, for this little oasis of non-food closes for the siesta, and had we not entered by the skin of our butts, we’d be shit out of luck for gathering provisions in time to start our trek today.
As Lady Providence has it, we make it and purchase the low-grade food for an exorbitant price, and, it’s off!