Bariloche is the mecca resort for Argentinians whether in Winter for Skiing (note: hopefully theirs goes better than Alan´s! Hopefully your Nursing skills came back Janet and he´s all healed up now (after stopping laughing of course!)) or Summer for Camping. We stayed at the most amazing hostel on the 10th floor, as recommended by the Welsh couple! It had astounding views across the lake, brill kitchen (with pic of me cooking steak!) and a nice chilled communal area. We sopent the first night at a strçeakhouse, and what a place! Kim got Bife Lomo, basically medallions of beef, but each 1.5 inches thick, and there were three of them! I got Bife Chorizo, ultimately sirloin. Just as thick, and three of them again! We also got a plae of chips that were the size of your head. After all that, washed down with a nice bottle of wine (all for 21.50 incl tip!), we went home sore. We did some chilling out and organised our trekking adventure in the Argentine Lakes, after I tried more icecream, very good, and ´famous´ chocolate, not so good.
Anyway, after bumming around we were ready to pick up our tent and head on our 3-day/2-night excursion in nearby Huapi National Park. We were recommended two treks and campsites by the rangers. As they had them down as easy/medium we thought they would be a nice stroll. At 12ish we were dropped off by the bus to start our first 4hr walk to the campsite. Armed with enough food and shelter for all eventualities we set off. Easy going at first and not too much of a climb but that all dissappeared after half way. The climb became very-much up and with no shelter from the unrelenting, dry heat. Trust us two glow-in-the-dark whities to choose the three hottest days of the year so-far to do this.
We did try to protect ourselves, but the slimey mess of Factor50 and sweat we were now swimming in was not a pleasant experience. If you can imagine, we were basically slopping the white stuff onto a layer of our own water. Nice...
Moving on. The climb was really tough, but 10-12kg packs and all, we made it. I nabbed a campsite overlooking the valley we just climbed, but after another wee search found a nicer one over the lake. I called Kim over to hold it while I got my stuf over from the original. Within 20, calm, minutes (much to Kims` surprise) we had the tent up and liveable, but I realised I left my knife at the original site.
Now, one of the most exciting things for me about this trip was I got to resolve my jealousy for our Declan (my 12yr-old nephew) and also got to own and use a real Swiss Army Knife in anger since he recently had his camping outside London. So when I return to see it gone, but someone´s tent wrapped-up as if to hold the spot, I kept my faith in human kindness and asked at the refugio if it had been handed in. Unfortunately not, so I thought I´d wait till later as maybe they were holding it for me and I could ask them when they were settin up. After all, I did have a very important key attached to it (the one for the lock Harry got me for my rucksack) and these good people would know the value keys are to their fellow traveller.
But, alas, I should have defaulted to my more suspcious setting which has kept me on high alert during this trip, because when I had returned the (insert expletive) had dissappeared, tent and all. Luckily I had already opened my lock and had a spare at the hostel, but thats not the PRINCIPLE! The dirty (insert stronger expletive) just lifted it. Now, it was either them or the guys at the refugio were lying, but either way we had a rat in the camp, and I was not ammused.
We went to the lake, which was stunning, and cold, and I had a dip to cool off and wash. Kim got her legs wet (coundn´t handle the cold). After working on our moon tans we got ready and sat outside the refugio. Now imagine, you have crystal-clear waters of the lake with a green/blue hue at the bottom of a steep-sided, bowl-shaped canyon, dry and arid with irregular peaks due to weathering on one side. On the other, a vast, deep valleycovered in forest, but with the same dry, arid peaks. In front, however, you have the reason why the refugio is there, and why me and Kim sat on the coolest little wooden deckchairs drinking Coke all night.
There is a solid, vertical rock with a smooth surface, almost mis-placed in its surroundings, and apparently a No 1 destinations for rock climbers around the world. Not sure if you recognise the name Stu, Refugio Frey, but I have pics, see the photo album. These guys were pretty hardcore. Even the rapel down lookiçed dicey. Unfortunately one Scot never made it all the way up, so Stuart, the challenge is set!
The thing I couldn´t figure among all this, tho, was how cool and chilled-out everyone was. And they were even welcoming to non-climbers like us. How could any of these folk steal my knife!?!
I took on cooking duties for the trip and for my first delight I whipped-up a great three courses. Cup-a-soup (Veg flavour) to start, Mediteranean pasta (dried, from a packet) for mains and a desert of `packet of cookies´. I think the Coke stole the show. But this is bad, as Kim´s addiction has returned after I managed to wean her onto the Diet stuff over the last few years. Now I get whinged at to feed her habit, and the fat-inducing side-effects. Back to running soon me thinks!
After a not-so-relaxing night (the ´we will organise it later/when we get there' approach left us without sleeping mats) we got up and readied ourselves. With similar efficiency the tent was down and we were packed and ready for breakfast.
Now, Del and Linda (Scots couple) gave us the tip of soaking our porridge overnight with jam. But we couldn't get the consistency right so it was too runny. Then we could not remember if you boiled it in the bag or put it straight into the pan. Anyway, I reverted to the old-fashioned way of the pan (Kim was reluctant in case they charged us another 15pesos for the kitchen use). It actually tasted nice, but Kim didn´t agree and by this stage was not for listening. A third of a packet of jam added later and she tucked in, stubborness not allowing her to admit her mistake (she really is her fathers' daughter). It wasn't until two days later she offered that she may have over-did it, but insisted `I think it would be fine with just some sugar'. Women.
Can I make one little point. I don't know if it is bothering you as much as it is me (I know Jamie will be going round the twist) but one are of the Spanish language I cannot grasp since Maddy left is the Spanish keyboards! There is no pund sign and I have no idea what is an apostrophy, a speach mark or an accent. So I'm continuing with my method of whatever I hit first. When I type on the iPod it is better, but it does take me longer. So sorry.