Refugio Piltriquitrón

It was time for another hike! This would be the longest and steepest yet – coming in at 27km total, with an ascent of 1200m. Yes, we are tough 🙂

Starting from El Bolsón, the first 45 minutes of the walk was along route 40 to get out of town. This part of the walk was crap, but you have to get there somehow, and we hadn’t really coincided with any buses going along the road.

Then the uphill ascent starts, via a gravel road for around 10km that goes up and up and up and up. Do you get the idea? This walk was pretty much 6km very steep climb, and 6km steep climb… did I mention that it was steep and there was a lot of going uphill?

Leaving route 40, a sign helpfully tells us the way.

Towards the top of the gravel road the forest disappears and you start to get great views over the valley and the mountains behind.

The road up the mountain.
Look, I can see the Andes – from the gravel road up the mountain.

And finally you reach the car park… YES A CAR PARK… you mean we walked 10km uphill on a road?!? Well, yes – there is a gravel access road – but no public transport – so it’s either walk, car hire, or taxi…. so of course we walked…. During the walk up, only one single car went past, and there were around 4 cars in the car park at the end.

From the car park you can proceed to the mysterious El Bosque Tallado and then on to the refugio…. What is this mysterious El Bosque Tallado I hear you ask?

Only one km to the mysterious El Bosque Tallado

Well, it’s kind of cool and a bit weird… there was a forest fire and all the trees in this area got burnt and only stumps, trunks, and other bits of tree were left behind. Then they had this idea to invite woodcarver artists to pick an old, dead tree and then carve it into an artwork. But it had to be carved exactly where it lay on the mountain, with no extra materials – so the starting shapes of wood affected the final carving, and also the ‘gallery’ ended up located at the top of a mountain, only accessible by a 10km steep and curvy gravel track, and then a VERY steep 1km walk on a dirt path.

The way up to El Bosque Tallado.

Whilst I like the idea behind this, it does somewhat limit the number of people that can actually see it… And also some of the artworks are weird (that’s just my opinion 🙂 ) (and also CC’s opinion 🙂 )

Here is a selection of carvings from El Bosque Tallado, the captions are not the ‘official’ names of the artworks, but I like my names better 🙂

Sleeping Gnome
Pig on a rock
Angel of Bolson
Tree Lady

Passing through El Bosque Tallado, a further steep climb takes you to the Refugio, which is in a lovely setting with amazing views. It was really great up there, and we had our now traditional can of black fizzy drink from the Refugio (Twice is a tradition right?)

PB celebrates being near the top.
View from the Refugio. The small blue lake to the left of centre is Lago Puelo – the National Park we were in previously (home of the churros)
Refugio Piltriquitrón
CC is very pleased to be at the Refugio. Also she is pleased because she can see snow.

It had been a pretty hard climb in quite hot weather (around 27 degrees) and our verdict was that the end of the climb was ‘awesome’, but the walk itself ‘not so awesome, but not too bad’. We discovered that another trail led from the Refugio to the top of Cerro Piltriquitrón, and it looked great up there. It was a five hour round trip though, so there was no way we could do it and get back before dark (and to be honest, we were too tired to do it on top of what we just did!) On reflection, if we had known about this trail, we may have forked out for a taxi to the car park and then we could have done that trail to the very top of the mountain, and walked all the way back down. Ah well…

Cerro Piltriquitrón looks like a good walk.

The way back down was the same way, but we managed to cut some corners by cutting through the pine forest to miss out the switchbacks on the road. Some of this was offical trail, and some perhaps not…. but anyway, nobody shouted ‘GET OFF MY LAND’, so all good.

Pine forest short cut.

When we got back to town it was around 7pm, so we had been out for 10 hours. Really, TRULY we deserved a cold craft beer after that – the longest walk of the trip so far, and also the biggest vertical climb.

PB REALLY REALLY deserves this beer…

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