Day 15 - Hiking out of the park.
We wake up nice and easy at 8am. We all have breakfast together at 9am.
5 group members decide to stay and give it another try while 10 of us decided to go down and 2 of us are already down in Mendoza ( 1 with serious injuries and another with a minor injury). Not quite a 100% summit success rate huh?
We all give our goodbyes and thanks and tip the base camp porters and staff. I also hand out pieces of my gear to my favorite guides :) and I am happy I don’t have to pay a summit bonus to the guide I disliked.
I talk with Peter and I give him all my best. I also give him the rest of my supplies of gummy bears (our favorite summit food snack) and some other snacks and supplies to keep him going. We bid farewell to each other and off we go!
Out of the 10 going down we have 6 members that take the helicopter 🚁 off the mountain.
Since I am a poor peasant from Eastern Europe I choose the free option: walking. So 4 of us go and walk down. We started around 11 or so and after a loooooong day hiking we got down to the van at 17:40. So about 6 hours and 40 min of hiking with breaks and some light bouldering along the way. We also stop at Confluencia for light refreshments and a watermelon snack. Feels like ages since we were down here (2 weeks actually) and also feels weird eating and drinking in the same tent in a chair located on the same spot where I slept sick on the floor the first night.
As we approach the gates of the park the fatigue kicks in and along with it a flow of emotions of nostalgia / confusion / happiness / sadness / reminiscence. It’s hard for me to understand but I observe myself and I take one more look behind my back to wave goodbye to Aconcagua. I wave and I say: “thank you for having me and for returning me. Maybe one day we shall meet again but probably not ;) “
When we get to the bus we are told that our bags are still on their way so we go and wait for our bags and the miles to a place called Puente Del Inca. An old Inca heritage site. Pretty cool. We then get in the bus and drive for about 2 hours before we get into a city called Utspalla. There I invite the whole team of 4 + 3 guides to a dinner that I pay for :) a small token of appreciation we enjoy beers, pizza, and Coca Cola. The food tastes like heaven! The weather is flip flop weather. Heaven. All the little things! I appreciate them but 2 weeks ago I took them for granted.
We arrive in Mendoza at 23:30. Pretty late. The 4 of us quickly unload our bags (I help with all the bags also for the others), check in to the hotel and take a shower. IT FEELS AMAZING!
At midnight we join the remaining 6 members for dinner but they are wrapping up and calling it a night (remember: they flew in by helicopter and got into town 6 hours earlier than us 4.) After they wrap it up 6 of us decide to go dancing. I have 0 energy but somehow I convince myself to go. A nice experience - I don’t regret it :)
Mendoza - your wine and steaks are amazing ! And your price even more so.
Grateful is the thought I fall asleep with. Good night world!
PS: the following 2 days before my flight to Buenos Aires I spend by overeating on stakes, wine and coffee! I also get a haircut and wash my clothes. It’s time for another adventure down in Patagonia :)
Don’t go yet! The next post will be dedicated to an overall “thoughts summary”.