Posted by: Talie Morrison | January 25, 2010

Paso de la Oveja

For some crazy reason, I seem to still love going out on solo backpacking trips… Am I certifiably crazy? I guess so… Well after going to the “National Parque” which is the normal person’s view of the National Park of Terra del Fuego – I was left wondering “Is that all I can do?” Well of course not…. So I bought a map and talked to a guy in the “Companie de los Guias” – and I settled on a partial loop that would take me over the Paso de la Oveja. I have been lugging all my backpacking gear from town to town and I am anxious to use it when I can (Torres del Paine helped me some in that respect). So I did some local grocery shopping (it’s an adventure to put together backpacking food when the food stuffs are totally different…) I haven’t been able to use my light weight Pepsi-Can stove since I haven’t been able to find a good burning alcohol (only denatured alcohol – and I don’t think it will hold up very well in the wind). So, before I left the States, I bought a “pocket rocket” stove as a backup – good thing, cause that is what I have been using….

After a half hour taxi ride to get to the trailhead, I took off in a bit of a drizzling rain. Can you see the wires along the sides to hold on to? The taxi driver was pretty funny – he asked me if I was going walking? Then he asked me a couple of times if I was going solo. Then he finally asked me how old I was! I guess he is still talking about that crazy American lady. At least (thank you, Lee), I was able to converse with him and answer his questions! So after about an hour and a half of walking, I came to a “trail closed” sign (and it was in English along with Spanish!)

Do you think they mean it??

I really thought that it must be that the trail went elsewhere and I wandered around in the bush looking for another trail. Not finding that, and knowing really that going back was not one of my favorite options, I decided to ignore the sign! Of course there was a second one a few meters on down the trail – they make it pretty hard to play the “dumb Gringo” out here!

A couple of times the trail got indistinct – no I was never “lost”, I just misplaced the trail slightly… But my route was between a river and a mountain, pretty hard to miss those landmarks. Shortly after I relocated the trail again, I met a couple of other backpackers coming down. We exchanged greetings (luckily they were English speaking), and they asked if I had seen the ranger… they heard that he gets really mad when people ignore the sign, and that a couple had gotten almost all the way to the lake when he saw them and he made them turn around and go back. (Now do I believe all the possible rumors I hear or not??) Oh, well, it will be what it will be.

This is the valley I had been hiking up for the last 5 hours.

The English couple said they had left the lake about 3 hours before and that it was mostly downhill for them, so I expected it to take me a bit longer being uphill for me… Actually it only took me 2 hours to get to the lake where camping was allowed (I do try to follow the rules when I can!!) As I climbed up and out of the forest, I just kept getting more and more elated! 

My tent was in those little trees next to the lake!

  Wow, I LOVE being here! Life is good!   It was a bit muddy getting down to the camping spot, and I had to take my boots off for the last creek crossing – but I had my choice of camping spots – I never saw another person till I was going over the pass two days later!

In typical Terra del Fuego pattern, I had a little bit of all types of weather: Rain, Sun, Snow and lots of Wind! I have been pretty proud of my little homemade tent/shelter. When it is really windy, I make it really short. And it has been keeping me plenty dry on these rainy nights! The next day (after hoping that the rain would quit), I hiked up to the higher lake: Lago Superior. I am certainly getting to see some of the most pristine and beautiful places on this hike!!! You all know how much I hate to wear hats, and am usually just using my ear muffs. Well the wind down here blows my ear muffs off! So I have had to resort to a real hat – which on this trip I was wearing almost 24 hours straight! A friendly (??) beaver put on a show for me that night, swimming around in the lake in front of my tent, slapping his tail and diving.

This guy kept me entertained for half an hour!

I don’t think he was impressed that I was there!

The second morning, wonders of all wonders, I was awakened by sun on my face! WOW! So I packed up and breakfasted as fast as I could to take advantage of the sun going over the pass. It only took me about 1.5 hours to get to the pass, and by that time I had lost the sun, but at least it wasn’t actually raining. And I was able to shed my hat and get out my ear muffs! I think “high pressures” down here last about 2.5 to 3 hours – and then they are gone….. I saw two guys coming across the pass, but the wind was blowing hard enough that they didn’t even stop to say hi (they were day hikers anyway…). The trail down the other side of the pass reminded me a bit of the Yule Pass trail outside of CB – a bit of a trail across lots of scree! Spectacular waterfalls on the other side of the valley too (just like Yule). Just like lots of trails, the last little bit was a bit of a slog over pasture lands and along a dirt road back to Ushuaia. I finally found a taxi and actually rode the last little bit back to the hostel. All and all it was an awesome adventure!

Lago Superior

Going up the Paso de la Oveja

On top of the pass

Remember this guy??

The trail going down valley back to Ushuaia

Great way to end the day - beer and king crab!

So now as I publish this, I’m in El Calafate.  Interesting transition from Ushuaia (which is like South East Alaska) and a one hour flight later I’m in country just like Grand Junction Colorado – basically desert!   Interesting place this Argentina is!

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Responses

  1. hi talie!
    wow! what a fabulous adventure! you are an amzing story teller and so generous for sharing your story with us along the way!
    xoxoxoox
    melissa

  2. hey talie… love hearing about your adventures! this looks like a great walk!


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