October 16, 2005

Trekking in the snow

It is one thing to see the mountains from a plane, but really another to be trekking up one of them!

We took a two day hiking trip to the mountains near Aconcagua National Park, north of Mendoza. While it is 85 degrees in Mendoza at 2000 ft above sea level, it was only about 40 degrees at 8000 ft. Some of the snow on the mountain tops has begun to melt, creating little creeks and streams flowing down the mountain.

The terrain is very beautiful, but in a severe and desolate way. At 10,000 ft, there isn´t much life to look at. We took 2 different hikes on two different days. One was to a summit, another to a ¨plata¨, a natural flat plain (at 10,500 ft) before the mountains rise again. There are only squat thorny bushes, some tufts of grass and some lichen. I wish I paid more attention to lichen in my plant physiology class. The only classification I can make now is color (ooh, a greenish patch, ooh, a black patch).

Otherwise, the terrain is rocky. Our trails tended to follow natural brooks or rivers. I am glad we had a guide – I will never complain about trail markings in the US again. There were no visible signs anywhere that I could see.

We were accompanied the second day by a famous dog, Oso, who has summitted Aconcagua 6 times, the highest peak in South America at 22,000 ft. This climb takes experienced mountain climbers 10 or more days, including trekking and time to acclimatize to the altitude. Oso has rescued lost climbers and brought them home. I could only marvel and watch in envy as he frolicked up the 25% grade. He darted up the mountain, then for fun would run down some valley, up the other side through the snow, chase a bird for a while and circle back to check on us. I was so impressed I gave him a some of my sandwich (evidently dogs in Argentina eat bread).

I love the feeling of isolation that trekking without seeing anyone or anything else brings. The sun shines in an incredibly blue sky, and I get to eat a sandwich barely being able to believe where I am.

Jonathan is honing his photography skills to new heights. The upside is that we have great photos, especially of me. :) The downside for him is that photos of him are taken either by me, or depend on strangers taking shots of the both of us. Check out his post on snow trekking.

1 Comment

  1. [...] Soyan has written about our hike here. Filed under: South America, Argentina, Mendoza, Hiking — Jonathan @ 5:40 pm Listen to this [...]

    Pingback by World Unfurled… An entrepreneur sells his company to travel, taking a trip from Antarctica to Zaire. » Getting high in Argentina — October 17, 2005 @ 5:43 pm

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