hiking Tronador to Otto Meiling – day 1

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

day 1 | 2 | video | info page

The main hub for hikers in the Argentinian lake district is Bariloche.

The population of 130,000 plus tourists stretches along the busy lakeside highway. It should be another Banff, Chamonix, Queenstown … but isn’t. Many (including myself) become disenchanted with the place after a while.

Super popular with hikers, however, out of Bariloche is a one night adventure to climb an extinct volcano called Tronador (Thunderer) 3,470 m, the highest peak in the area. A 1200m ascent from the valley trailhead.

Argentina can be frustrating for tourists. Mucho problemas. But one highlight is Club Andino Bariloche (CAB). It’s an excellent organization which runs a number of alpine huts (refugios) and campgrounds.

Though the Government Parks office in Bariloche is often closed, CAB seems to always be open, staffed with friendly, English speaking experts.

At CAB, buy a return hiker’s shuttle bus ticket to Pampa Linda for about $40. Pampa Linda is the trailhead for Tronador.

We departed Bariloche 8:30am. It’s a bumpy, dusty, but scenic 77km to Pampa Linda close to the Chilean border.

Here you fill out a mandatory, free registration form.

I hung around Pampa Linda letting the largest group of hikers get started ahead of me.

The trail is a road to start. But green and tranquil.

Hoping to shortcut I jumped on to a smaller trail … It turned out to be the side trip to Mirador del Valle, a valley view point. Oops.

It took me 20 minutes or so to realize my mistake. But rather than admit I was an idiot, I dropped my pack and carried on up the little used, overgrown trail.

I never did make it to the viewpoint. But here’s a photo looking back to the valley.

The main trail does get steeper in places. There are stairs and switchbacks.

After spending 4 days above tree line on my last hike, it was a nice change to walk in bamboo forest shaded by huge trees.

Still, I was looking forward to views from up high. It was exciting to finally reach the big vistas.

Perhaps most impressive were waterfalls coming off the glacier.
Weather was deteriorating rapidly so I didn’t stop.

I’ve seen condors many times, but it was still thrilling to see two flying by very close. They circled the alpine hut, too.

I rushed up to choose my (semi-protected) campsite for the night. I wanted to get as close to the glacier as possible.
It began to rain just as I set up the tent. So I didn’t do much sightseeing at dusk.

Instead I read my book. Then headed over to the famed Otto Meiling hut.

Otto Meiling (Cerro Tronador)

As a solo English speaking hiker I don’t much enjoy stepping into these cramped, expensive refuges, but Otto Meiling is better than most in Argentina. It’s quite cosy indoors.

Otto Meiling (1902-1989), a German immigrant and carpenter/mountaineer, built the hut in the 1950s. He climbed the mountain 15 times. At age 84, he made an ascent from Pampa Linda and returned in one day! His fondness for mountaineering led to founding the Club Andino de Bariloche which is thriving today.

Otto Meiling

I’d neglected to carry wine so hoped to purchase one glass to celebrate inside away from the drizzle. Unfortunately this hut only sells wine by the bottle. I had a $5 hot chocolate instead. Food and drink are good, but understandably expensive, in alpine huts.

Not lasting long I retreated to my cozy tent to watch an episode of Fortitude. Then listen to my (excellent) biography of Leonardo da Vinci.

Friends had been up a few nights early in perfect weather. No moon. Here’s how it looked.

– by Peter Battelli

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headed to Patagonia today

My January 2016 Patagonia trip was cut short. Only a month.

I’m planning to stay longer this time.

Departing today. Arriving Santiago January 20th. Planning to start hiking out of Mendoza. Head to Bariloche from there for hiking and cycling.

I’m looking at photos of the Patagonian Andes for inspiration. These are from the upcoming documentary Unbounded. It should be released sometime Spring 2018.

best hikes Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Zach Urness, Statesman Journal:

While occasionally spectacular during the depths of winter, it’s the spring months of April, May and June when the Gorge reaches its scenic peak.

Blooms of wildflowers, roaring waterfalls, panoramic viewpoints and mossy forest combine to offer singular hiking experiences up and down the national scenic area.

To get you prepared for the season, I’ve put together a list of the 13 best overall hikes the Gorge has to offer, in consultation with the Friends of the Columbia River Gorge.

As ever, it’s important to remember that hiking during the week or early in the morning is highly recommended. The Gorge becomes as crowded as shopping malls in many places on weekend afternoons.

Best 13 hikes of the Columbia River Gorge

(via Meanderthals)

Sunset Crater, Arizona

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Climbing to the rim has been closed for decades. Hikers were doing too much damage.

sunset-crater

I did the partly wheelchair accessible 1-mile (1.6km) trail Lava Flow Trail and some of the 1-mile (1.6km) Lenox Crater Trail. Both were snowy.

Sunset Crater AZ

Sunset Crater AZ

But if you are passing anywhere close to Flagstaff, Arizona, any time of the year. I recommend you make this stop. The Visitor Center is excellent.

rick-sunset-crater-az

The date of the eruptions that formed the 340-meter-high cone (1,120 ft) was initially derived from tree-ring dates, suggesting the eruption began between the growing seasons of A.D. 1064–1065. However, more recent geologic and archaeological evidence places the eruption around A.D. 1085. …

On the same road trip visit nearby Wupatki National Monument.

Wupatki Pueblo

Wupatki Pueblo

If you book in advance, Rangers offer guided hikes from October through April. Anywhere from two hours to two days.