Day 5 - To the summit of Loma del Pliegue Tumbado 1500m!
Today’s objective is Loma del Pliegue Tumbado 1500m, a small summit attained by a long valley plod and lengthy pull up through attractive beech woods, with the taller beech in some areas and the short beech Ňire in more open areas. This is original forest in unpolluted air, so we saw a lot of Old Man’s Beard, a lichen that grows on the tree bark, and a parasitic growth called ‘Indian Bread’. Adorning the forest floor were occasional yellow orchid and small colonies of ‘Lady’s Slipper’ (locally known as Topa topa). The small vulture cara cara (Carancho) was seen in more open areas.
As we moved above 800-900m, it started to snow, adding further interest to the long forest section, and by the time we reached the tree line, the clouds were down and the wind had strengthened considerably. We met a Dutch group descending the hill and they had had no views whatsoever, so we took an early lunch and waited for the weather to improve, which, thankfully, it did.
A long walk across open ground carpeted with some interesting mosses, eventually picking up yellow stakes, which guided us through an easy boulder field towards our goal.
The final pull to the summit was a steeper slope, on stable scree with about 200m of ascent. At the top we enjoyed good views to Lago Torre exiting Glacier Grande, NNW to Cerro Fitzroy (3405m), NW to Cerro Torre (3102m) and east to Lago Viedma. The rather splendid Cerro Solo (2121m) was in the near distance directly to our east. What a great little top Pliegue Tumbado is, and, an object lesson in gauging distances in this region…things look a lot nearer than they really are, a function of the clear air and brilliant light. What had looked like a simple ridge route that might have taken us 2-3 hours actually took us 4 hours.
On the descent a group of ibis were seen just before the start of the forest trail and once again we were into the beech woods for the long walk back, in total a 23km day. A short stroll by Patagonian standards!
Our restaurant this evening was the same as the first night…an excellent local stew with pulses was enjoyed. During our meal there was some excitement when some Argentinean visitors arrived breathless (and in the case of the mother a little ashen)…they had spotted a puma with cub at Lago Capri! Not known to attack humans, at least in the recent past, it was, nevertheless, a scary moment for the family, and one they will surely dine out on for years to come. Puma are rarely seen, as they are most active at night, but are fairly common in these parts. Although protected in the area we were trekking in, they are routinely shot by farmers outside the national park boundaries as they will train their young on sheep before working up to the bigger cattle.
Another full day. Onto the Glacier Viedma tomorrow!
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