Guest post: Refugio Frey in the Andes – by Renate Rigters (That Wanderlust)
In this week’s guest post… we’ve got a positive account of a solo hiking trip in the Argentinian Andes combined with a little hitch-hiking adventure. Join our new contributor Renate from the Netherlands as she wanders through the Patagonian mountains.
I really deserved this, I’m thinking as I lay down on the rocks at the lakeside near the peak of the mountain. After having hiked for four hours I’ve finally made it to Refugio Frey. I had no idea that I was going to encounter a lake at this height, so I forgot to bring my bikini. Luckily it’s okay (I think) to just relax near a lake in Argentina in your underwear. So I’ll just do that.
I had never hitchhiked before, but as we all say, there’s a first time for everything right? I wanted to take the bus from Bariloche downtown to Cerro Cathedral, but I didn’t check the bus-schedule very well and found out a bit late that it only goes once an hour. I’m not good at waiting and doing nothing, so after one of the other bus lines offered to bring me closer to Cerro Cathedral for free I figured I could just do that the entire trip.
After the bus dropped me off I had to wait for about 7 more minutes after the first van stopped to pull over. A family from Buenos Aires offered to bring me a bit closer by, since they were going to take another exit. I had to wait there again for about 10 minutes with my thumb up until a local young lady pulled over. She and her son were going to Cerro Cathedral for the downhill biking tours. They dropped me at the first sign of the Frey trail and my hiking adventure could officially begin!
Hiking the Andes
The hike up was not very intensive at the beginning, but especially the last hour the path just got more upwards, higher and steeper with every step. I’ll have muscle pain tomorrow for sure!
During the walk I didn’t meet a lot of people, but I did say “hola” to every person that passed by and they all gave me a nice “buen dia” back.
I saw a couple of young kids too, even some without parents. I guess they’ll go halfway up and then head backwards again.
The sun is very hot today and there was not a lot of shade. Though, after having walked for about two hours I found a stream! It’s so good to walk towards the sound of the water.
I saw a lot of tiny animals. Lizards especially. The probably only annoying thing during this hike were the tabanos (horseflies) and the bees. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn a bright blue tank-top, but I really don’t like bugs that think I’m a flower. Well, I’ll deal with those later on, I thought, firstly I should focus on getting to the Refugio before dark.
During the hike after about 3 hours I saw a little wooden house built in a rock and I got really happy because I thought that I had made it to the Refugio Frey already!
Unfortunately for me, there was still one more hour of uphill hiking left.
I also heard something which sounded like a person playing drums, but when I got closer to the sound I realized that it was just a woodpecker. Then I saw the peak of the mountain getting closer to me – well, I was getting closer to the peak actually – I just made out a little wooden hut. That must be the Refugio Frey then!
As I more or less climbed the last part of the trail because there where many rocks and I knew it would take me just another five more minutes before I’d arrive to my final destination, I finished all the water I still had. Upon arrival at the Refugio Frey I heard water again and I noticed that the stream I saw earlier had its water coming from the lake at the peak. Water bottles fill up time!
The Refugio Frey asks for 100 AR pesos if you want to stay in one of their beds (bring your own sleeping bag though!) and 80 AR pesos for a huge Pizza in the evening. Want to have breakfast? They’ll provide that too if you like for 30 AR pesos.
Tomorrow morning I’ll hike my way down the mountain, back again to Bariloche.
written by: Renate Nathalie Rigters