Downhill from Refugio Rocco to Lago Frías
The last day of walking started bright with the sun topping the surrounding mountain in a hazy sunlight. The clock was ticking. For the first time in 4-days we had an absolute deadline for reaching Lago Frías.
The ferry would not wait for us and we had to be there or it would be another night away from a bed and a shower.
The first part of the day was downhill through ancient woodland. Moss was hanging from the trees. Strange plants fell over the pathway and birdsong was heard for the first time since we left Pampa Linda, 2 days before. There were fallen trees and trees growing all over the path. It was a scramble, over under and in some places through the trees.
As we had discovered earlier in the week, fallen trees are left in the Argentinian National Parks. Paths are cut through them, but they are never removed. The woodland floor was covered in Choisya, a lemon scented flower that filled every available space and was filled with creepy crawlies, spiders and bugs.
Eventually we came through the trees to a grassy plateau with views down the valley to Lago Frías and the extent of our walking for the day.
Thunder Mountain and Glaciar Frías
Heading down into the valley we finally heard the thundering echo that gives Monte Tronador its name of Thunder Mountain. Huge séracs falling from the glacier cause an echoing rumble that is heard from miles away. Glacier Frías fills the river in this valley, rainbows of colour in the multiple waterfalls that tumble-down the sheer cliff face. The plateau is covered in grasses and coloured plants, the start of colour again.
Rio Frías Valley
After the steep downhill through the initial woodland the path flattens out along the valley. This is the easiest walking during the entire trek. The path is wide. The trees that have fallen now have wide walkways 'through' them and there is life to enjoy along the way.
In places the path was boggy, but well placed board walks helped navigate the soggy mud. It was surprising how quickly the ferns and moisture loving plants appeared once the shade returned.
As the valley widened the river became wider. The suspended particles from the glacier were churning the river into a brown racing mess. The bridges became higher and more adventurous the nearer to the lake we got. At the same time the path flattened and became a lot hotter and drier.
The end was finally in sight. After what seemed like forever we finally caught a glimpse of Lago Frías. This was the first sight since leaving Refugio Rocco 8-hours earlier. The turquoise of the glacier waters was enhanced by the blue of the blazing sunshine in the blue sky. The signs as we reached the edge of the lake made us realised how far we had come in the last three days.
Lago Frías stretched before us as we arrived. The blue waters of this glacial lake shimmering in the afternoon sunlight. After four long days this was the end of the trek and it hit home what we had achieved. The cruise across the lake to Puerto Alegre was beautiful. The mountains receding into the distance as the bend in the lake approached.
A short bus ride from Peurto Alegre is the bustling ski resort of Peurto Blest. A brief wait for the ferry to Bariloche was spent in the sunshine enjoying the novelty of contact with the outside world.
The pier was sunny and hot with the sun starting to set over the mountains. The trip to Bariloche saw the sun descending over the mountains. Shadows appeared and the mountains changed to a heavy deep red. Arriving in Bariloche was sensory overload. After fours days in the mountains, vehicles and other people seemed like madness.