We started our trek in a small ski village that was closed for the summer. Apparently, it is one of the most popular things to do here during the winter. The hike was very pleasant, sort of a gradual ascent through a forest. The mountains all around us were quite jagged and very striking. We made it to Refugio Frey, and unlike the other places we've camped at, we slept inside this Refugio, instead of pitching our tent.
We found out that this weekend, Refugio Frey was the starting point for a test to become a guide. There were 30 men competing for 25 spaces to be guides for the coming season. This meant that there was a lot of studying of maps and quite a few people here in the Refugio. Also, it was a different feel in that no one spoke any English. Previously in the other places we have camped, most people are tourists and English speaking.
We enjoyed the views from here and continued our trek in the morning. For me, this was the best part so far of all our treks. The trek was well marked with red dots indicating the next spot to follow, but you actually had to do some rock climbing and could sort of decide which route to take to arrive at the next marker, instead of just walking along the pre-determined trail. It was a bit cold and pretty windy, though, so we tried to cover as much ground as quickly as possible.
Climbing down the other side of the ridge always proves to be a bit more difficult and the legs get so tired when you always have to put on the brakes! But, it was a very enjoyable trek and we arrived at Refugio Jakob about 3:00 in the afternoon. This Refugio just had one guy that ran it, and he was extremely nice and accomodating. Since the high season is now over and we are entering autumn, there weren't too many people. I think only about 10 people were camping with us. We enjoyed a very tranquil and serene environment, while he played classical music and about 4 or 5 of us chatted around the stove with candlelight.
The next morning we left around 9:30 and had a nice descent into Colonia Suiza where we planned to catch the bus to bring us back to Bariloche. It was about a 5 hour walk down and once we arrived to the town, we were definitely ready for a break. We learned that we had just missed the bus and the next one wouldn't be coming for two more hours. A nice gentleman came up to us and offered to give us a ride back to Bariloche, if we wanted to accompany he and his wife to sightsee for about 45 minutes. Since even doing that would still put us back in Bariloche before the bus ever even arrived to pick us up, we accepted. Plus, we would much rather enjoy a couple than be on a noisy bus.
We enjoyed talking with them very much and learned that they were taking a long weekend and lived in Buenos Aires and were heading back to Bariloche to catch the plane. They even invited us to have dinner with them in Buenos Aires if we would be coming back that way. Unfortunately, we aren't, but it was a pleasure to be around true Argentinians who weren't focused on us as tourists.