trip video: Kootenay National Park – The Rockwall, August 2019

This is the companion preview videos to our trip report detailing our 3 day and 2 nights hike on The Rockwall in Kootenay National Park. The highlight of the hike were the granite walls of the Vermilion Range decorated with waterfalls and hanging glaciers.

You can find the detailed report of our hike linked in the index below.

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trip report: Patagonia – Parque Pumalín Douglas Tompkins, January 2019

Parque Pumalín Douglas Tompkins is result of Douglas Tompkins conservation efforts starting in 1991. Today it is managed by CONAF as a national park that covers 988422 acres. Within the bounds of the park, there are enough maintained day hikes (parquepumalin) to keep you engaged for a couple weeks. While we didn’t explore every single hike, we did four of them on day 6, day 15, day 17, and day 18 of our travels on Ruta 40 and the Carretera Austral.

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This is part 8 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Parque Nacional Queulat & Ventisquero Colgante, January 2019

The vastness of Patagonia contains many spectacular mountains, valleys, glaciers, and lakes. Many of these areas are untouched by trails and very difficult to access without extensive skills. It may be one of the hopes of the Chile’s Route of Parks initiative to eventually expand accessibility for hikers and tourists to these hidden vistas. But for now, we would only catch a glimpse of the glacier spilling out between the rock faces. That sums up my descriptions of the popular Ventisquero Colgante, one of the only established and open hikes in the area around Parque Nacional Queulat.

This is part 6 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Mirador Laguna Cerro Castillo, January 2019

Cerro Castillo is one of the rare multi-day backpacking (trekking) opportunities that is well established along the Carretera Austral. We had tentative plans to do just that, but lingering health issues and the logistics in planning a point to point backpacking trek that would rely on hitchhiking or buses when we didn’t speak Spanish brought us to the alternative day hike options. In the end, I don’t feel like I missed out and at the same time, I look forward to returning to do the trek.

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This is part 5 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.  Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Marble Caves & Glaciar Exploradores guided tours at Puerto Río Tranquilo, January 2019

Our southern most point on our Carretera Austral drive was the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. While we typically don’t partake in guided hikes or tours, we did here to see the highlight of the town, the Marble Caves on Lago Gral Carrera (Lake General Carrera).

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The other tour here is the guided glacier hike onto Glaciar Exploradores, spilling off the Northern Patagonia Ice Field. Having endured the last few days through sickness and car issues, we made the decision at this point to just enjoy ourselves and splurge on both tours. We did not regret it one bit.

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This is part 4 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – Ruta 40 & driving the Carretera Austral, January 2019

My current struggle in life is the constant feel of needing to optimize my time. It’s the feeling that I need to be productive whenever possible, but I don’t think I am actually any more than before in the overall scheme of things. Maybe I started to feel this way because of the combination of how easy I can waste a day and just the never ending to do lists. Whatever the reason, it makes it very difficult to relax as anything nonproductive comes with a feel of regret in the end. This specific struggle carries over into the realm of traveling as well when it comes to unplanned and free form travel. It is hard not to feel the need to do something at every minute. But at the same time, unplanned free form travel is the cure as you don’t have anywhere to be but to relax and immerse yourself in the beauty out there. There is no place better for me to relearn that than the remote regions in Chile on the Carretera Austral.

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carefree zone

In the spirit of free form travel, the hikes and activities we throughout the rest of our trip wasn’t really in any organizable order. This is due to a few travel restrictions and situational parameters that are explained in the post. So this part of the trip report will cover our decisions as we went, the specific route that we took, and our driving experiences on the Carretera Austral. Subsequent sections will delve into the different hikes and major activities that I will mention in this overview of our trip.

We pick up this trip report the day after our Huemul Circuit hike (see part 2 of this series). This is part 3 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip report: Patagonia – getting in & Huemul Circuit return, January 2019

On my first solo extended out of the country trip, I found myself at a pub in Bruge drinking with the a bunch of new friends I didn’t know the day before. A quote that stuck with me from that night was that you travel not to experience everything, but to find all the great things about a place to return to. In the travel atmosphere that is suggestive of the bucket list and country counting attitude, I am all for the counter viewpoint of also returning to a place that once put you in a state of awe. The Huemul Circuit is currently my favorite hike in the world, so a return trip to Patagonia meant I’d head back there.

As I start to write this, I am not sure how this report will go. This is the first time I’m writing up the exact same hike on this page and it didn’t deviate much from my first trip. Secondly, my SD card crapped out during this trip leading me to lose a good portion of my data unbeknown to be until I started going through the pictures post trip. To that end, I’m approaching this write up of the Huemul Circuit as a complement to the my first report with the insight that the trail has gotten much more popular.

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This is part 2 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More

trip video: Ausangate Circuit, August 2018

I started to play around capturing some video footage in our recent trips. As such, I also added an video index page to this website and started a Youtube Channel, where I’ll upload my videos.

My first attempt of a video is now available of our August 2018 Ausangate Circuit backpacking trip to go with our Ausangate Circuit trip report.

Being my first attempt I have plenty to learn about what works and what doesn’t work in terms of video. I’d welcome any suggestions as well. If you like these, please subscribe to my Youtube Channel to let me know, thanks!

trip report: Ausangate Circuit, August 2018

Making the decision to quit on a hike is one of the hardest things you may face on the trail. The last time I bailed on a backpacking trip was in the inhospitable landscape underneath the Peruvian mountain of Ausangate. I came down with a cold or sinus infection of some sort making it hard to breath without coughing heavily. The lack of ability for me to breath with the high attitudes that demanded me to breathe harder during the uphills forced me to recognize the fact that I couldn’t complete the circuit at that time.

When it comes to quitting, the biggest opponent was my own ego. Part of that ego preventing me from making the best decision for myself regarding quitting may be the desire to accomplish something for completeness sake. Perhaps the reason for such as desire is rooted in the fear of missing out, in that I know I didn’t miss anything if I complete it. In a sense, that completeness attitude may actually miss the real reason we head into nature, which is to experience nature. For me, hiking is about the means just as much or even greater than the ends. If it truly the experience and enjoyment of nature we are after, then there is no shame in quitting and returning to experience it when we are in a better situation.

Of course I was disappointed that I couldn’t compete the Ausangate Circuit. What helped was looking back at the experience we did have of climbing the grassy pass around Ausangate before navigating ourselves off the Ausangate Circuit to find our way to the Rainbow mountains off trail and realizing how great that was. It wasn’t the experience I was expecting, but it was amazing nonetheless. Secondly, I knew that I’d return someday and finish the hike for a brand new experience of the Ausangate Circuit. That day came two years later when I found a business class fare sale back to Peru.

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trip report: El Chaltén – Fitz Roy and Huemul Circuit, March 2017

Two years ago, we found a cheap COPA fare down to Santiago de Chile for spring break. Of all the places available to us, we went for Patagonia and it has remained one of my favorite trips. Crossing over Paso John Gardener to the magnificent glacier grey was beyond words, though I tried my best. It was my favorite viewpoint among all the places I’d seen to that point. There was also something so simple as getting off the plane and hitting the trails for a week. That feeling was especially strong for me this past spring after the mega planned New Zealand trip a few month before. All these factors combined to motivate me to head back to Patagonia once again when we found another sale to Santiago de Chile, this time we were headed to the Argentinian side. At the end of it, I came out with a new favorite trek.

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trip report: segmented Walker’s Haute Route, June 2014

Recently, airfare between Europe and United States have been on an all-time low driven by budget airlines like WOW, Norwegian, and Level even in the summer high season. With the ease of the trans-Atlantic commute and the beginning of summer hut to hut trekking season in Europe, I thought it was appropriate to jump back in the time machine to June 2014 and write about the time we did a segmented Walker’s Haute Route trek. As with my previous report about the past, my information might be dated now. Please cross check all the trail information with reputable sources.

Before I get started on the report, a key aspect to keep in mind is that the Walker’s Haute Route is really sections of different hut to hut hikes that was put together to fit the 2 week holidays Europeans, especially Brits, have by Kev Reynolds and the Cicerone guide books. There are many, many different alternatives you can take or loop together. The number of trails in Switzerland is pretty astounding, though it fits since the entire country is pretty much just glacier carved valleys.

A unique aspect of our trek was that we started the hike in mid-June, which was before the official Walker’s Haute Route season that year. So we had to mixed and matched different sections of the trails around, hence the segmented nature of this trip.

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