Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Greater Patagonian Trail

The Greater Patagonian Trail has been on my bucket list for many years - ever since its creator, German Jan Dudeck has contacted me to ask whether I am interested. And of course, right from the start I have been interested in this very unique trail - which in fact is not a traditional trail at all.

Yours truly and Jan Dudeck
Jan and his Chilean wife Meyllin have been working on it for years now, developping a continuous route along the Chilean-Argentinian border which consists of everything from minor roads, used and not any more used drover trails to crosscountry bushbashing. It is an entirely informal trail with no waymarking whatsoever except in National Parks. Instead it crosses plenty of private land including properties of power plants and private nature reserves, includes a couple of potentially impassable river fords and snow fields and even some rather nasty rock scrambling. Due to property issues I will not be able to do a straight forward thruhike. I will hike in a general northbound direction, but due to property issues and boat transfers I will have to flipflop some sections.

This will be a very different hiking experience: Normally I just follow an existing route and enjoy to make miles but here I will face route finding problems, lots of unforeseeable problems and a much lower mileage than usually. As always hiking solo I will therefore carry a PLB for the first time in my hiking career. At least I speak fluent Spanish and will not encounter communication problems ....

I honestly don't know whether I will like this type of trail or not: I am looking forward to the absolutely spectacular landscape and to many encounters with local people. After hiking in Europe for the last couple of years I am intrigued by South American culture and history. And of course I'll enjoy spending the European winter in such a warm climate! But I am also not a fan of crosscountry bushbashing and technically difficult terrain.

The Greater Patagonian Trail is a work in progress but its main route has now extended to a length of more than 3,000 kilometres which is probably not doable in one season due to the aforementioned difficulties. Also the Southern half is best enjoyed with a packraft which I have not used yet. 
I therefore plan to hike only the Northern part this season and come back another time to hike and packraft the Southern half. In three months from December to March I'll tackle 1,750 kilometres. Normally I should be able to cover this distance in one month less but I don't expect to be able to keep up my normal hiking speed.

If you want to find out more about the GPT head over to Jan's excellent trail manual. As he is an engineer he has created onte of the most detailled trail guides I have ever seen!

Other than on my European hike cell phone reception will be very bad in Patagonia. I will try to post daily on Facebook with a time off set of at least a week and will write this blog only after I have returned from Chile in March.