Hunting is good for Hikers

I’m not a hunter. But there’s no doubt that hunters are some of the biggest supporters of wilderness recreation.

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DRONE in the Drakensberg

A great hiking destination in southern Africa.

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The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) …

The Afrikaans name Drakensberge comes from the name the earliest Dutch settlers to the region gave it. They called them the Drakensbergen, or “Mountains of Dragons”. …

One of the best hikes there is Giant’s Cup Trail.

 

Trekking to Aconcagua’s Plaza Francia INDEPENDENTLY – Day 3

trip report by editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | info page | video

Up early again. Coffee as the sun rises.

Rather than doing any more hiking I enjoyed a lazy morning at camp. Toying with my electronics. Listening to my Spanish lessons. The sun was HOT.

There are all sorts of characters coming and going. Some carry huge backpacks.

The craziest of the crazy are trying to summit Aconcagua independently and unsupported. Somehow transporting 70kg of gear or so up the mountain with multiple shuttles.

Around 11am I finally packed up the tent.

I figured it would be an easy walkout. No rush to catch the 5pm bus.

On a rest stop I laid out my basic gear to dry.

I’d expected a quick 2 hour 400m descent, but the walk felt long. Full pack. I was tired.

It was nice to finally reach vegetation.

If there’s something green here, there’s plenty of water.

Laguna de Horcones (2950m)

I checked out at the park entrance. Turned in my permit. Handed over my trash bag.

My Aconcagua trek was a success.

With a couple of hours before the bus arrived, I walked the highway …

… down to Puente del Inca (2740m).

…a natural arch that forms a bridge over the Vacas River, a tributary of the Mendoza River. … 

In March 1835, Charles Darwin visited the site, and made some drawings of the bridge …

In the old days people would walk across the bridge to reach the stone church.
It’s a tourist trap with overpriced junk and yappy dogs.

I decided to wait to eat in Mendoza.

There are a couple of hostels and a campground, however. A good emergency stop. Or hikers could sleep here one night before heading up towards Aconcagua.

I slept well on the bus. Then got myself a big chunk of Argentinian beef to celebrate back at the hostel.

Trekking to Aconcagua’s Plaza Francia INDEPENDENTLY – Day 1

trip report by editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | info page| video

Next morning was sunny. Mendoza enjoys 330 days of sun a year.

With only a 3-4 hour walk in gaining about 400m, I packed heavy.

There are 3 buses a day from Mendoza to the Aconcagua Provincial Park. Go early to the Mendoza bus station and buy a ticket in advance on the Buttini Bus. Seats are assigned. Ask for a window on the right side of the bus. Cost one way in 2018 was AR$130.

Roberto sat down beside me on the bus. He’s a rafting guide from Guatemala who’s worked all over the world. 15 years on the Arkansas river in Colorado, for example.

In 2018 he’s finally guiding the Grand Canyon. Those trips are decided on by a lottery system. He jumped off at Potrerillos where he was visiting a friend, another guide.

I was headed back towards Santiago, Chile on the same scenic highway I’d traveled on an express bus. My local bus stopped everywhere taking 4 hours to get back to close to the border with Chile.

The Parque Provincial Aconcagua office on the highway is quite well organized. We had our permits checked and strictly informed that all trash must be returned in a numbered bag back to this office.

Day hikers can walk a short way up the valley towards the big mountain for $10. (foreigners $25.50)

It’s a popular stop for tourists.

In fact you get quite a good view of Aconcagua from the highway. For free.

You need to walk up a paved road to the parking lot before getting started.
I was to be surprised how many helicopters race up to Aconcagua every day. Two are parked here at the entrance. Ready to go.
Only those with trekking permits can cross the river. I felt I was finally on the Francia trek.
Excited, I rushed up to Confluencia camp (3350m) as quickly as I could.

It looks much more impressive from a distance than up close.
In fact, it’s rather crowded and dirty.

Guided clients sleep in one of the company fixed tents.

When not in use they are protected.
I do like their big bright shared areas.

It was late afternoon, the sun already passed behind the mountains.
On arrival you check in with the camp guards. They directed me to the tiny area where independent campers are allowed to pitch. We are definitely second class clients here.
Toilets are BAD for guided clients as well as independents.

Chilled and surprisingly tired, I crawled into my sleeping bag and had a nap. I had a slight altitude headache but no other symptoms.

Eventually getting up, II wandered around early evening, enjoying nightfall.

There’s a convenient picnic table with good water supply for independent hikers. I had my standard Knorr soup with instant mashed potatoes. Barbecue chicken mixed in.
Cheeky Andean fox tend to show up at campsites about dusk. I saw this one hanging around at dinner hoping for leftovers. And another two in the early morning.
BIG day tomorrow. I tried to get as much sleep as I could at 3350m.

Half the crowded camp wanted to rest. The other half to party. Bring headphones or earplugs.

Big Bend Outer Mountain Loop TX

If I return to Big Bend National Park it will be to hike the Outer Mountain Loop.

Backcountry permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in the park and can be obtained at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center (or another park visitor center).

outer-mountain-loop-map

Day 1 – Chisos Basin – Boot Canyon – Juniper Canyon (approximately 11 miles)

Begin by caching water near the Homer Wilson (Blue Creek) Ranch. This scenic overlook is located at mile 8.1 along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Hike down the trail and cache your water in the convenient storage box. Ensure your name and date are written on your bottles. Caching water will make the difference between a dangerous experience and a fun backcountry excursion.

After caching water, head to the Chisos Basin Trailhead to begin the hike. …

Day 2 – Juniper Canyon – Dodson Trail – Blue Creek Canyon (approximately 10-11 miles)

The Dodson Trail is the hottest and most exposed section of the entire trek. Don’t let the relatively short distance fool you. …

Day 3 – Blue Creek Canyon – Laguna Meadows – Chisos Basin (approximately 9 Miles)

National Park Service

Click PLAY or watch a 3 day hike on YouTube. (6 min)

related – trip report – Traveling Ted – Completing the Big Bend Outer Mountain Loop