Alma Wagen – 1st climbing guide on Mt Rainier

Celebrating girls and women in the outdoors on #InternationalWomansDay.

Alma Wagen was the first female guide to work in Mount Rainier National ParkThe bulk of her work as a guide consisted of leading tourists on hikes to nearby glaciers, but she occasionally assisted in leading parties to the mountain’s summit, which she was said to have done “like a master”. …

day hiking Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

The day before my main hike — Cerro Guanaco — I traipsed some of the very pleasant trails on the west side of Tierra del Fuego National Park.

All good. All well signed and maintained.

Here I simply post a few of my photos.

Costera Trail:

Laguna Negra Trail:

Senda de la Baliza Trail:

BEST hike Tierra del Fuego National Park

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Cerro Guanaco trail

Unlike most parks in Argentina, there is an entrance fee for Tierra del Fuego National Park. It was 480 pesos ($12.50) in 2019. But the ticket is good for 1 or 2 days. And camping is free in the park so two days is the better value.

There’s no inexpensive way to get from Ushuaia to the Park. Most — including me — book a door-to-door shuttle return for 700 pesos. ($18)

On arrival at the Park I asked which of the 4 campgrounds was best. One Ranger told me Laguna Verde, so I had the shuttle drop me there.

This is Patagonia so I bolted the tent down real good.

Day 1 I did a number of easy day hikes. All pleasant.

Day 2 I headed over to the nearby Alaskush Visitor Center to register (free) for the Cerro Guanaco trail. You are supposed to register before Noon to be allowed to make the climb.

Guanaco is often closed due to high winds, as well.

It’s 4km one way. An elevation gain of 973m.

To and from the Alaskush Visitor Center and back (to confirm you returned safely) it’s about 15km.

You start along lovely Lake Roca. Perfectly calm the day I was there.

Lago Roca

Signage says it will take you 4 hours to the top. Hiking steadily it’s more likely to be closer to 3 hours.

There is some significant MUD at one point.

As usual in South America, I used Maps.me for navigation.

Most hikers stop at one of the designated viewpoints.

If you’ve got good weather it’s worth pushing up the scree to the top.

In Patagonia it’s very common to have persistent rainbows. It rains a lot.

Capturing them in a photo is not easy.

There’s Ushuaia in the distance.

At the very top end of February I scrambled the snowy summit for a dramatic finish.

Great hike. If you get to this park be sure to schedule time for the Guanaco climb.

Turned back on the Dientes de Navarino trek, Patagonia

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles 
Dientes de Navarino (Teeth of the Navarino) is one of the best hikes in South America. The island of Navarino has the most southerly established trails in the world.

The jumping off point is Puerto Williams.

Most do the 50km over 4 days.
FIRST you need get to the end of the world. That’s Puerto Williams (pop. 2000) on the island of Navarino.
There are three ways:
– flight on small plane from Punta Arenas ($150 one way 2019)
slow (30hrs) ferry from Punta Arenas ($167 one way 2019)
– fast boat from Ushuaia (45min) and shuttle van (45min) about $100 one way 2019
I stayed at the friendly and relaxed El Padrino hostel. Most people there are either coming from or going to a hike. It’s a great place to get maps and up-to-date information.
For overnight hiking you are asked to register (free) at the police station. I found it fast and efficient.

The day of my departure some left the hostel at 8am. As is often the case, I was last to get on the trail. I left town at 1pm. It was only 4-6 hours to the first campsite.
I had a hot un-dehydrated last meal for lunch. 🙂

The first big snowfall of the year was the previous week — the end of February.
Almost everyone that week had turned back after post-holing deep snow. Most trail markers were hidden.
Weather was improving for my departure March 1st. But everyone had rented snowshoes over the past couple of days … just in case.
I’d decided NOT to rent snowshoes hoping enough people were gone ahead of me to put down a trail in the snow.
But Shila — the main gear store in town‚ happened to be open (for the first time) as I walked past on the way to the trailhead. I grabbed their last pair. ($3 / day)
Even if I didn’t use them, they would make me look more macho. 😀

It’s a couple of kilometres to the start. Most people walk from town.

Summer on  Navarino island is lovely. I can’t imagine how it must be during the very long, dark, cold, wet winter months.

Everyone stops by to give their respects to the Virgin. It couldn’t hurt.

This trail is really well managed. RESPECT to whomever got this organized.

Trailhead

Actually, it was Lonely Planet’s Clem Lindenmayer who popularized it in his 1992 Lonely Planet guidebook Trekking the Patagonian Andes.
Clem died age-47 while hiking in China’s Sichuan Province, I’m sad to recall. I loved his book. It was part of the inspiration that had me start this site.
The BEST thing about the Dientes Circuit is this free pamphlet. I can’t recall a better one hiking brochure anywhere else in the world.

In Spanish with English translation, it’s crystal clear. All you need for navigation.

The start is up, up, up through the trees.

Quite a bit of trail maintenance has been done in this section.

I used Maps.me as a back-up to the pamphlet description.

The start is the most popular dayhike out of Puerto Williams. Up to some viewpoints.

Puerto Williams

Beagle channel

Most day hikers finish at the giant Chilean flag.

I continued up on the rocky plateau.

It’s fairly well marked here, as well, though you do have to keep your eyes peeled for cairns. In spots there are multiple trails to get to the same place.

The only real problem is punching through snow or ice and getting your feet wet.

A difficult section is a long traverse along the side of a mountain.

You pass a chain of pretty alpine lakes.

This is the kind of snow I faced on the first day. Easy — but with some exposure. If you slip it would be a long, painful fall.

There’s my destination. Under the teeth of Navarino. It’s a steep scramble down.

Laguna del Salto

I set up late in the day on the observation platform. Serious hikers sometimes day hike here and back. That would take at least 8 hours.

Most people tent over by the waterfall.

It was a gorgeous evening and night. I was optimistic for the weather next day.

Unfortunately clouds were getting denser when I awoke.

Here’s what I would face day 2 trying to get to Laguna Escondida. Lots of snow.

Potentially no vistas. Potentially a slog in the fog.

I also awoke with a bad stomach ache.
What to do? I had mixed feelings.
In the end I decided to hustle back to Puerto Williams and catch the 4pm ferry. It only runs twice a week in summer.
Back in town it looked to me like the highest peaks were clearing. My odds of getting through the circuit MIGHT have been 70% or more, I believe now.
I may have made the wrong decision. ☹️
Oh well. This gives me an excuse to return!
Check our Dientes information page if you want to organize this trip for yourself.

related – bookmundi information on this hike

best hike out of Ushuaia, Argentina

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Zoe Agasi and Olivier Van Herck from Netherlands spent 2 months in Ushuaia. For them the best local day hike (of many) was Laguna de los Tempanos and Glacier Vinciguerra.

That was good enough for me.

I walked from my hostel to the trailhead.

Like the north of North America, everyone here has big dogs. Most roam loose. This one probably needed to be chained up.

What I hadn’t realized that morning is that it was 7.3km to the start. I should have taken a taxi.

From there it’s only a steep 5.6km up to Laguna de los Tempanos below the glacier. The sign says 6km.

Up there’s where I was headed.

The weather was atypically reasonable today. Very little wind.

Once at the trailhead, navigation is not difficult.

Your feet do get wet on this hike — I wore neoprene booties rather than socks — but at least you don’t have to wade the largest river.

Next is a long, steep section through the trees.

It’s muddy and you need to be agile as a gymnast to negotiate fallen trees. There doesn’t seem to be much trail maintenance.

Near the top you reach an alpine meadow. Then a short climb up a waterfall to the Laguna.

Carlos from Colombia and I walked up together. He’s a Master’s student studying in Argentina currently on his summer holiday.

Carlos

The glacial lagoon is gorgeous.

It’s not often the weather is this good. One woman went for a swim!

Like most in the world, this glacier is rapidly receding. ☹️

Looking back at the Beagle Channel.

I highly recommend Laguna de los Tempanos and Glacier Vinciguerra. But only in good weather. It’s tough, as well. I fell once into the mud on the way down.

And organize transport to and from the trailhead. The Los Humedales cafe at the trailhead will call you a cab if you don’t have phone that works in Argentina.

Rick at Laguna de los Tempanos, Ushuaia, Argentina

P.S. There are two side trails that I didn’t have time to do:

Laguna Encantada
Laguna del Caminante

biggest problems for multi-day hikers

The John Muir Trail is one of our top 10 in the world. It ain’t easy.

Overall, the top health problems reported were blisters (57 percent), sleep problems (57 percent), pack strap pain (46 percent), knee/ankle pain (44 percent), and back/hip pain (43 percent).

Another 37 percent reported altitude sickness. Given that the trail is almost entirely above 8,000 feet, and finishes at 14,505 feet at the summit of Mount Whitney, altitude issues are not surprising …

Here’s What It Takes to Hike the John Muir Trail

A survey of backpackers’ tactics on the 220-mile high-country route offers insights on what works and what doesn’t

Details:

In 2014, 771 people filled out the survey, all of whom planned a trip of at least five days along the trail—a pretty reasonable sample from the total of roughly 3,500 permits issued that year. A group of researchers led by Susanne Spano of the University of California San Francisco Fresno analyzed the data to look for patterns and insights.

9 great New Zealand alpine hikes

New Zealand is our #1 hiking destination in the world.

Liz — the Young Adventuress — put together a great post on some of her favourites each featuring a video from their Mountain Safety Council .

  1. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  2. Gertrude Saddle
  3. Ben Lomond Summit
  4. Kepler Track
  5. Cascade Saddle
  6. Waiau Pass
  7. Poukirikiri/Travers Saddle
  8. Milford Track
  9. Mount Taranaki Summit

9 of the best alpine hikes in New Zealand and how to tackle them safely

Click through for details.

Here’s one of those excellent videos.

Click PLAY or watch Ben Lomond Track on YouTube.