Well El Bolson has been a bit of a misadventure, but we have sincerely enjoyed our time here. We initially came here because supposedly El Bolson is in a rain shadow- well this did not help us, it rained for the first 6 days we were here. But we did not let that stop us. We headed out into the mountains for a 4 day trek. Crossed not one but two dodgy bridges successfully, and when I say dodgy I mean it, planks of wood missing from the bridge and 30% of the other planks broken in half and dangling toward the river. But we made it across and managed to see a couple of Condors as well. Our first camping site was at Refugio Caj0n de Azul. To get there we had to cross a 10 foot bridge over a 40 ft deep canyon with gorgeous blue water. The refugio was like utopia for me and Dale. Set amidst craggy snow covered peaks is a wonderful little farm. Sheep grazing in a green pasture spotted with cherry, apple, and apricot trees. And a huge kitchen garden with all sorts of vegetables growing robustly. We were greeted by an adorable puppy, but he was soon competing for attention with the 4 cats and 2 kittens who were more than eager for some rubs. The next day was a strenuous climb to a mountain pass, at times the path was not much more than a stream and occasionally we had to scale a few small waterfalls. Refugio Natacion was our destination for the night, aside from the refugio keeper there were only 4 of us there-in a month there will be close to 100! We spent the evening chatting and drinking the delicious home brew beer, made with some incredibly fresh water melting from the peaks surrounding us. Woke up with a few inches of fresh snow covering everything, including our tent. Hiked down a steep, snow covered slope then were about to cross the river when poor Dale slipped on a wet log and hurt his wrist (the misadventure begins) Dale told me that his wrist hurt - if Dale admits pain then it has got to be bad. So we headed to the refugio 10 minutes away and assessed the situation. With big storms forecast for the next day and Dale in pain we decided that one more night on the mountain was not wise. So instead we needed to head down, 20 kilometers and numerous wet and muddy bogs later we made it to town; dinner at midnight and bed by 2am (oh argentina). Got lucky enough to have a mostly wonderful experience at the hospital, waited 5 minutes to see the doctor, straight to X-ray and into a cast, poor Dale was so mad!!! Then it was thank you and goodbye, no payment, no need to show a passport or anything just quick, efficient and free medical attention. The next few rainy days we spent at the hostel hanging out with some crazy Swedes and celebrating Christmas with an 11pm dinner on Christmas Eve with drinking and singing until 3am. Five nights in the same location with the same people really makes it feel like home when you are on the road and we had a great time in El Bolson. We even had an entire day, Christmas, without rain so we were able to head out on a walk to appreciate this beautiful fertile valley surrounded by sharp, rocky, snow capped peaks. Last thing before we left, a quick partial cast removal, for the minimal break of the wrist that Dale had we figured he did not need a cast past his elbow and a smaller cast is much easier to travel with.
Dodgy river crossing
Christmas Eve Dinner, the trout was caught that day by the hostel owner
Chillin´at the refugio
View of the Rio Azul Valley
Dale is not impressed
Overly eager cast removal, everyone wanted in on the action