After a long bus journey from Mendoza featuring some of the worst films in the history of humankind, it speaks volumes when the best film is "Paul Blart - Mall Cop", we arrived in Bariloche. After being shown to our shoebox, I mean room, we met Lena, Leah, Lauren and Shoni who had already checked in. Due to the long journey and the fact we couldn't really be bothered to do anything we spent the day lounging around playing cards and enjoying the terrace overlooking the lake. The best value part of staying at the Hostel Inn we discovered was the fact that every night we could get a free dinner at the next door Marco Polo Hostel(on various nights this was a meat and tomato pasta, a fairly hearty vegetable stew, a meat and rice dish and a pumpkin, corn and carrot rice thing with salad) which meant we ended up paying 55 pesos a night for breakfast, dinner and bed...not bad! Later at night Jamie, Henry and Nick arrived so we had a fairly low key night having some beers and a few games of pool before hitting the hay. The next day while some others went off on a glacier hike(by all accounts not that great) we decided to take a chair lift up a mountain to admire the Patagonian scenery and endulge in some sandwiches before heading off to do a mini trek through the forest and along the lakes edge to a secluded beach for more sandwiches and then back in to town. The next day I thought it would be a good idea to run off the edge of a very large mountain with an Argentine strapped to my back and only being stopped from plunging to a very messy end by a sheet of synthetic material attached to said Argentine by some thin cords...in other words I went paragliding. While take off is utterly terrifying, essentially running off a cliff when the instructor says so, the rest of the flight was incredible, sailing over the mountains, lakes and forests of Southern Argentina for 35 minutes was unbelievable, I won't even try to put it into words. On Monday the American girls and Jamie, Henry and Nick left town(though I'll be seeing the lads again in Australia I'm sure). While Emily and Lucie went off rafting, which sounded incredible though my budget didn't stretch to paragliding AND rafting, Alice and I bought some food and went on a trek round the Circuito Chico by the lake. After eating some Vegemite sandwiches(a taste which I must admit has grown on me) we ended up sitting on a rock by the lake...when an eagle or some other form of crazy bird started swooping around no more than a few feet away from us and giving us evil looks, quite a surreal experience. The next morning called for an early start as we had to be at the Club Andino de Bariloche for 8am to get our transport to the foot of the trail up into the mountains. So having left our big packs at the hostel we headed started off on the 18km hike toward Refugio Jakob. Though gentle at first the trail soon developed a few challenges, the first off which was a ridiculously rickety old wooden bridge across the river...we would later realise that this was in fact the best method of crossing a river we would see for some time. Having successfully navigated the bridge we continued on up into the Andes and eventually found a suitable clearing in which to have lunch. After a lunch of sandwiches, scrogan, fruit and half a museli bar we pressed on. The path got steeper and for quite long stretches was just the little streams which you had to pick you're way up by finding the least wet rocks to stand on. Eventually, as we climbed above the lower patches of snow(bearing in mind it's summer here) we found our biggest challenge. Some rapids that led to a waterfall, the only way of crossing was a rope suspended from the cliffs on either side which you were expected to hold onto while you waded across the rapids...thankfully we all made it safe and sound to the other side and able to a continue on up the path. The path by this point was simply a series of arrows spray painted onto the rocks which you need to climb up, in parts using hands, feet, knees, whatever you could. Having made it up the rocks we trudged along the final stretch to the Refugio where we would spend the night. Just before reaching it we encountered a large patch of snow, the first real snow Alice had ever seen...classic Australian! After finally making it to the Refugio set by a spectacular lake and jagged mountain tops we settled in for hot chocolate, cards and pasta before and early night. Overnight the temperatures dropped severely but we made it through and were able to descend back toward civilization the next day. Near the end of the trail I decided to strip to my boxers and go swimming in a river which was fed solely by melted Andean snow...f*** me it was cold! Despite gashing my foot on the rocks the second time I jumped in I felt cleansed and ready to make the last push back to Bariloche. We hadn't arranged transport back from the foot of the trail so had to walk an extra 7-8km back to the main road where we eventually got a bus back to the hostel in time to pick up our bags and head to the bus station to catch the 8:30 bus to El Bolson. What we didn't account for was that we would then arrive in El Bolson, the definition of a sleepy little town, at 10:30pm with no idea how to get to our hostel. Fortunately we found a restaurant that was open that served unbelievably good pizza and locally brewed beer and was willing to phone us a cab to take us to the hostel...sorted.