Patagonia – baby Lotta’s 7 week backpacking adventure (part 3)

Lotta has big sister duties coming up… so time to give this blog an update before new adventures swallow us up. Let’s finish the trip report from our 45-day baby backpacking trip in Patagonia March-April 2016.

Read part 1 here
Read part 2 here

Big sister duties coming up (summer 2018)... Plitvice Lakes National Park on a 10 day hiking trip, Croatia, april 2018

Big sister duties coming up (summer 2018)… Plitvice Lakes National Park on a 10 day hiking trip, Croatia, april 2018

On the previous update we left you somewhere on the Ruta 40 in Southern Argentina. We just finished an overnight trek in the remote eastern corners of the Patagonia Park. Not a soul on sight, but hopefully this will change very soon. So please put the park on your bucket list!

During the 45 days in Patagonia we did a total of 6 multiday treks and several dayhikes. The longest trek was a 5 night/6day trek in NP Nahuel Huapi, which you can read in part 1. Backpacking/trekking with a baby comes with some logistics, but nothing we could not tackle. Clue is keeping the baby warm, hydrated and nourished(breastfeeding), away from direct sunlight and safe. Lotta was hanging in a sling on the first 20 days of the trip, but she grew out of it, so we changed into a baby carrier for the remainder of the treks. Don’t overdress the baby while hiking/backpacking because they absorb a lot of body heat from the moving mother/father.

During the night we layered her up with as many merino wool layers as necessary and a merino wool sleeping bag. The baby did not sleep on an inflated sleeping mattres, because of suffocation danger. Her sleeping mat was the Thermarest Z-lite Sol closed-cell mattress. We buttoned a hooded hat to keep her head and body warm during the night.

We packed in and out all (used) diapers, so it is really necesary to go for the backpacking light approach, because logistics would be almost impossible for a 6 day trek with the three of us. After this Patagonia trip we changed the classic diaper system to a biodisposable diapers system like the G diaper system, because the 30-day trek we did in the European summer of 2016 in Swedish Lapland would have been impossible. More details on that on the next blog update.

After a good night’s rest bivaouc spot in the canes besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

After a good night’s rest at a bivaouc spot in the canes besides Lago Chico. Patagonia Park. Aysén Region, Patagonia, Chile.

Approaching the Fitz Roy massif from the Ruta 40, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

Approaching the Fitz Roy massif from the Ruta 40, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

El Chaltén was named Argentina's Trekking Capital or Capital Nacional del Trekking. Today the sole reason for its existence is tourism. In 1985, Argentina and Chile had a border dispute to gain and claim rights over El Chalten. There was no conflict in the end, and El Chalten was earned and rewarded to Argentina. Homes, government buildings, and flags of Argentina went up to mark the city settlement. El Chalten, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

El Chaltén was named Argentina’s Trekking Capital or Capital Nacional del Trekking. Today the sole reason for its existence is tourism. In 1985, Argentina and Chile had a border dispute to gain and claim rights over El Chalten. There was no conflict in the end, and El Chalten was earned and rewarded to Argentina. Homes, government buildings, and flags of Argentina went up to mark the city settlement. El Chalten, Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia, Argentina.

Organizing food ratios for a 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina.

Organizing food ratios for a 4 day / 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina.

Towards the Chilean border on the first day on a 4 day / 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Towards the Chilean border on the first day on a 4 day / 3 night trek in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Outdoor daddy, bivaouc in the lenga forrest, Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Autumn breeze, second day of a 4 day trek around Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina.

Detachment of the Gendarmería Nacional de Argentina, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

Detachment of the Gendarmería Nacional de Argentina, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

Undulating backpacking around Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

Undulating backpacking around Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rain cover protects baby Lotta around the baby Manduca carrier, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rain cover protects baby Lotta around the baby Manduca carrier, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A rainy rest stop on the trail, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A tiny bridge over the Rio de las Vueltas, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Lago del Desierto close to the Chilean border, Patagonia, Argentina.

A tiny bridge over the Rio de las Vueltas, day 2 out of 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Negotiationg a muddy section on day 2 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Negotiationg a muddy section on day 2 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

All peace and quiet in the Valle del río Eléctrico, day 2 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

All peace and quiet in the Valle del río Eléctrico, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Route planning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Route planning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Good morning, this morning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Good morning, this morning, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Classic viewport, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Classic viewport, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Where do we go from here?, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Where do we go from here?, day 3 of the trek, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Laguna Capri by night, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Laguna Capri by night, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Fresh morning after a windy night at Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Fresh morning after a windy night at Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Alpenglow on Loma del Pliegue Tumbado and Cerro Huemul, as seen from Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Alpenglow on Loma del Pliegue Tumbado and Cerro Huemul, as seen from Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Morning alpenglow on Cerro Fitz Roy never dissapoints, as seen from Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Morning alpenglow on Cerro Fitz Roy (3359m) never dissapoints, as seen from Laguna Capri (770m), day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Magellanic woodpecker on a lenga tree next to our tent, Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

Magellanic woodpecker on a lenga tree next to our tent, Laguna Capri, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

We will be back soon, day 4, NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

NP Los Glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina.

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Baby Lotta goes backpacking in Patagonia – video

Everything you can imagine is real. – Picasso

It’s been a while. Parenting. Time consuming. Free moments are spend together and outdoors. Our girl is 7 months young now. She grows on sight. We’re enjoying the best times of our lives so far. When she was 20 weeks old, we took her on a extremely rewarding backcountry backpacking trip into Chilean and Argentine Patagonia. 45 days. Ice-caked mountains, evergreen virgin rainforrests, eye-blurring blue and green rivers, golden rolling pampa, abundant wildlife, rare humans, vitamin D spitting sun, howling wind, freshes ever air and senses running overtime. Contrary to gut feeling, it turned our baby way more relaxed then when put between four walls.

This is the video impression which will consume 6 minutes of your life.

A more extensive report in word and photos might follow somewhere in time.

Scree descent after summiting active volcano Chaitén, Parque Pumalin, Palena province, Patagonia, Chile

Scree descent after summiting active volcano Chaitén, Parque Pumalin, Palena province, Patagonia, Chile. March 10th, 2016.

This is your life! Do what you love and do it often.

Patagonia – Torres del Paine National Park in winter (Chile)

The jewel of South America, the unmatched Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, attracts an ever rising number of backpackers, crowding camp sites and trails, which will lead them around the knife-bladed granite towers, over the golden steppe, along multicolored, fjord-a-like lakes fed by deepblue glaciers. The park has almost all Patagonian fauna at dislpay: guanacos, foxes, condors, endagered huemules and pumas. Torres del Paine summaries every eco-system which you will find in the immense Patagonian landscape.

Torres del Paine Massif cliffs out of the Patagonian steppe (april 2010)

Torres del Paine Massif cliffs out of the Patagonian steppe (april 2010)

Famous for it’s 4-seasons-in-1-day and fierce winds in spring and summer, people tend to avoid the park completely during the winter months of june, july and august, which is totally unjustified in our opinion! Hikers with winter experience, will be overwhelmed with the silence on the empty trails and vast beauty of the Patagonian nature. We hiked the famous W-trail at the end of july in 2006 and met nobody! We had the park completely for ourselves! This hike changed our hiking hearts from hobby to passion and will always be marked as our complete switch to unsuported “wilderness” (winter) hiking. We came back to the park in autumn 2008 and autumn 2010, but never experienced the same feeling we had back in the Patagonian winter.

Herds of guanacos at the Lago Sarmiento (july 2006)

Herds of guanacos at the Lago Sarmiento (july 2006)

So what’s about the park in winter (May trough September)?

– During the winter , high pressures, coming in from Antartica, stabilize themselves over southern Patagonia providing long spells of clear, cold and windless (yes, you are reading well!) weather. Cold fronts from the pacific will eventually come in, interupting the silence and bringing the sequacious winter dusting! When we were hiking the W at the end of july we had one cloudy day and four days of crisp clear weather, resulting in expansive views over the Patagonian ice field.
– Torres Del Paine enjoys sort of a microclimate, which provoces slightly warmer than the rest of southern Patagonia. During the day in july 2006, we had temperatures of 12 ° C in the Sun, but of course at night the temperature dropped to around -10 ° C.
– Most part of the the W-circuit is at sea level, so snow accumulation is very low to non-existant.

Lago and Glaciar Grey, fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap (july 2006)

Lago and Glaciar Grey, fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap (july 2006)

– No tourists, nor the swarming groups of backpackers, crowding the camp sites to extravaganza, for which the park is famous in summer months.
– Wildlife descends from the mountains to the valleys. So far more likely to spot wildlife. We have noticed fresh tracks of cougar’s.
– No annoying insects. Nor mice or rats stealing your food and biting your shelter to rubbish.

What to keep in mind for winter visits to the park?

– It’s colder than in summer. Although the difference is minimal.
– Rangers will only let you walk the W circuit, because the John Gardner pass along the world classic “Circuito” is blocked by snow and ice (but doable with mountaineering equipment).

Patagonian Horses at the trailhead of the W-circuit (april 2010)

Patagonian Horses at the trailhead of the W-circuit (april 2010)

– Mountain huts are closed, except for the Lodge Paine Grande “(the only non-private operated refugio), but be aware that the building is not heated, so you have to bring a warm sleeping bag. Multiple day hikes can be done from this hut!
– Subsequent thaw and freeze cycles, can cause a layer of ice in shady parts of the trails. So this will require more concentration then during other seasons. Light crampons can be helpfull. The upper trail in the Frances Valley and the higher trail to the lookout of the towers will be snow/ice covered.

Lago Sarmiento and Cordillera del Paine, as seen from the steppe (july 2006)

Lago Sarmiento and Cordillera del Paine, as seen from the steppe (july 2006)

– No ferry boats sailing on the lakes (Grey/Pehoe), so for walking the W-trail you will have to start/end at the administration building.
– The bus between Laguna Amarga and Hosteria Las Torres does not operate.
– Short days. Late July: sunrise around 8:00 and sunset around 17:30.

Lago Nordenskjöld in autumn (april 2010)

Lago Nordenskjöld in autumn (april 2010)

Full photoset on our flickr page for more pics on this 5-day winter hike into Torres del Paine National Park (2006).

Another photoset on our flickr page from an 9-day autumn hike into Torres del Paine National Park (2010).

Valle del Francés, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

Valle del Francés, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

Pricking the balloon, Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park: A Park in Need => Sustainability of the park, is a big issue for the Chilean government!

Torres del Paine official website
How to organise a visit to Torres del Paine?