The Lake District

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
1
115
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Trip End May 02, 2013


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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We arrived in beautiful Bariloche almost two hours late. We weren't communicating clearly so we missed the first bus into town.

When we finally got to the hostel they told us they had missed our reservation confirmation so they didn't have the room we wanted available for three nights.  They offered us compensation for the mistake and help finding another place.  The host also gave us a great review of activities in the surrounding area.  We decided to stay one night in 'The Rolling Stones' room and move across the street the next morning.

All of these delays were disappointing because by the time we got down to the lake the sun and clouds were directly above the mountains, making for suboptimal views and photos.  We tried to get a few things done in downtown Bariloche and suffered more banking setbacks.  Then we went to the grocery store to buy dinner and lunch for the following day.  For the first time in South America we officially got the green light to flush toilet paper down the toilet and drink tap water.  How very modern.

That night we were exhausted and took on too much.  Dinner took forever to cook and preparing lunch on top of that was more than our patience could handle.

The next morning we rose slowly and on better terms.  Breakfast included fresh homemade bread and jams.  We foolishly ignored the weather forecast and went out to explore the great outdoors.

The local bus dropped us off near Cerro Campanario.  As we hiked the short but steep trail to the summit a light rain began to fall.  The area was the greenest we'd seen in a long time.  A wide variety of trees grew all around, from needled conifers to evergreens and many more in between.  Due to the cloud cover and rain, the views from the top were disappointing so we descended.

Despite the drizzle turning heavier we decided to rent mountain bikes and complete the Circuito Chico, a 27 kilometre up and down ride around several of the lakes.  Soon after setting out we were in a downpour with brisk winds in exposed areas.  Sylvia had neglected to bring her waterproof pants and refused to purchase gloves so she was drenched for the entire ride.

It was clear that we were on one of the most scenic roads anywhere but we couldn't see much.  There were several long ascents and descents and we had to stop to catch our breath on numerous occasions.  We closed the loop in two hours and finished the adventure soaking wet and freezing cold.

Needless to say, the bus ride back to town was a little uncomfortable.  Thankfully, our new deluxe room with our own hot shower was waiting for us at Periko's.  We spread our wet and dirty clothes out everywhere and got cleaned up.

Jason passed out in bed soon after.  We had no energy or desire to go out for dinner in the incessant rain so we snacked in our room instead.

While trying to plan activities we reviewed the ever-changing weather forecast and hoped for the best.  Sylvia passed out while filtering through photos so we called it a night and settled in for a long warm sleep.

By morning most of our clothes were dry but we decided to launder them anyway.  We had a slow, relaxing breakfast while the rain continued outside. Needing a little alone time, we spent the rest of the morning apart doing our own things.

In the afternoon we booked another night at Periko's, then wandered around downtown.  We stopped in at a recommended chocolate shop called Rapa Nui and it was rammed with customers for a reason.  The treats were sweet and delicious, including 'Fra-Nui', burst-in-your-mouth fresh raspberries coated in white chocolate then dark chocolate and packaged in a cone-shaped box.  We also searched for ski gloves for Sylvia in the event that the mountain opened up the following day but, finding nothing within a reasonable price range, decided to rent instead.

Frustrated by his target pub being closed at a prime drinking hour and a recurrence of the ridiculous bottle deposit system encountered in Santiago, Jason refused to buy beer at the grocery store and went without, again.  We cooked dinner and rested up with high hopes for snow on the slopes.

The breakfast table news was fantastic.  Over a foot of snow had fallen overnight and Cerro Catedral was open for business.  We took the bus to the mountain, rented ski and snowboard gear and got on the nearest gondola.

It was nothing short of an epic powder day.  There was so much snow that it took us a while to adjust our technique to carve through it.  After a few solid runs we decided to move up to less tracked out territory.

We hiked uphill to La Garganta, a massive powder field with only a few previous snaking lines showing the wisdom of our decision.  Despite the occasional brisk breeze and cloud cover we elected to have lunch under mostly bluebird skies before carving our own paths in the knee-deep powder.  We dropped in, leaned back and bombed it straight through to maintain enough pace to avoid having to hike out the other side of the bowl.  It was like floating on a cloud.

The middle of the mountain was trickier to navigate and busier so the snow wasn't quite as nice.  There were so many lifts criss-crossing each other or connecting in sequence that we gave up and finished the day back where we'd started.

On the bus back into town we reconnected with Suzy, Leah and Vincent from Periko's hostel (and the previous one in Mendoza).  We went out for a few pints of local artisan beer followed by another meaty dinner.

In addition to the endless and enormous chocolate shops, Bariloche is also home to many microbreweries.  Manush produced several high quality beers, including a pale ale that was the perfect 'despues esqui' quaff.  The steak at El Boliche De Alberto was also incredible, even if we didn't get to eat dinner until very late.

We lingered during our last misty morning at Periko's, then checked out and moved across the street to Achalay again.  This time we were shown to 'The Doors' room.  With angled ceilings and retro furnishings it was a great place to hang out, but that would have to come later.

Seeking more physical activity we decided to hike up a dirt road to Cerro Otto, another local hill.  Light rain turned to snow and giant flakes fell all around us and the trees in a wonderful winter scene.  We stopped at a chalet near the top where a warm fire burned and ate the salami and roasted red pepper sandwiches we'd brought along with a mug of their potent hot chocolate.
After descending back into town much faster Sylvia gave in to the temptation of another trip to Rapa Nui for more chocolate covered raspberries.  They would definitely be missed.  If only they could make weekly shipments to Toronto.

We slept an hour longer than our alarm the next morning.  After spreading a little dulce de leche on our apples at breakfast, we loaded up our bus card and ran to catch it.

Lago Gutierrez was our destination.  Right from the bus stop the views were stunning.  Across the lovely lake a range of snow white mountains rose high above.

We started down the dirt road and a golden retriever immediately befriended us.  Several more aggressive (or maybe just jealous) dogs barked and chased our new pal but she always came back.

We entered the national park and veered away from the lake to take the trail called Paseo De Los Duendes.  Our adopted dog kept following us and it wasn't until others asked us her name that Sylvia read 'Lucky' on her tag.  We took the short diversion across a little bridge to the gorgeous two-tiered Waterfall Of The Elves.

Then the trail started to climb more steeply.  We were continuously shocked by Lucky's loyalty as she led the way, then walked with one of us and checked on the other to make sure no one got left behind.  There were several spectacular lookout points. At one of them we stopped to admire Cerro Catedral from afar and Sylvia poured some water for Lucky to drink.

At the top we could see three groups of mountains with the lake in the middle and forest all around.  We ate grilled steak and tomato sandwiches up there and succumbed to Lucky's begging by feeding her a few scraps.

When we neared the end of the road on the way back Lucky stopped near a fence with another dog on the opposite side.  A car came by, slowed, and the window went down.  A man called to Lucky and she left us just as fast as she'd joined us.  We walked on by without a chance to say a proper goodbye.  She was a great guide and companion for the walk.

Unfettered by our aching muscles we agreed that we needed to hike up Cerro Campanario one more time in better weather.  At the top an icy breeze chilled our sweat from the rapid ascent.  The 360 degree views were incredible and worth freezing for.

With a bus out of town booked, Sylvia had to go back to Rapa Nui for Fra-Nui boxes four and five while Jason sat on a bar stool at Manush savouring another two pint happy hour.

That night we took part in a dinner party for ten travellers at Achalay.  Pablo, the hostel owner, roasted up several slabs of tender beef and the sides included seasoned rice, salad and of course red wine.  After filling up on all of that goodness we had a little blues jam session with guitar, harmonica and some bad singing.  It was the perfect end to our stay.

Bariloche truly is a dream destination for lovers of the great outdoors.  We thoroughly enjoyed it but, as with everywhere else, we had to leave at some point.  We took a bus ride to another bus ride and we were on our way to El Bolson.
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Comments

mcg on

Simply amazing! Soooo jealous.

Nesita on

Wow, your snowboarding/powder description makes this one of my favorite entries....

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