Cerro Castillo Day 2: Forests, Rocks & Glaciers

If you missed Day 1, you can read it here.

After the first night of camping, I awoke around 5am at first but I did doze for a little longer. We slowly got up and started on breakfast and coffee. It was such a peaceful morning. We layered up and pottered around the camp making coffee with our camping coffee press. Breakfast was our pre-packaged oats with protein powder. Rob had extra seeds and nuts to put in his and I squeezed some almond butter into my bowl. It was quite a lot of washing up and faffing around when we just wanted to get on the road, but it was good stodge to fill us up and fuel us for the day.

Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com
Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com
Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com

After packing our tent up, we got ready, packed up our backpacks and set off around the same time as the other campers. We let the big family who had camped next to us go on ahead so that we could go at our own pace without slowing people down. Later we were very grateful for that, as we were able to spot them in the distance, when we weren’t 100% sure of the way to go.

Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com
Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com

The scenery was just breathtaking from the start on this day. We were surrounded by mountains, stepping over streams and eventually trekking through a forest. We climbed and climbed, slowly zigzagging our way up until we hit ice. Now, I’ll be honest – I hadn’t really read much about this beforehand or actually expected to encounter much snow but we were suddenly standing on a glacier, which Rob kept joyfully pointing out to me. We decided to put on our snow boot grips for this bit. ‘Why not,’ I thought, it’s not like there’ll be much snow and we brought them with us.’ We also put on our waterproof trousers in case we slipped and got wet. After just a few metres, we came to a clearing and looked up. I noticed the big family up higher – far in the distance zigzagging up the mountain and that was when we realised that we were actually going to climb this snow-covered mountain.

Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com
Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com

It’s a funny feeling, knowing that you can’t turn back and this is just the way that you have to go. With both excitement and trepidation, we set off. It’s a hard slog walking in snow. You slide backwards as you step and really have to dig your feet in to stand your ground. Slowly, we made our way up watching our step and realising that we were walking on ice under the snow. Every now and then, we would stop on a rock and just turn around and look at the truly insane views behind us. The higher we went, the more surreal it all felt. Eventually we made it to the top. And then that’s when we got a look at the next part of the hike – getting down the other side.

Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com
Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com

This was not as easy as getting up. In fact, descents are harder on your body and knees.. It was slippy and with the weight of our backpacks behind us, we sometimes found ourselves jogging slightly, which was slippy and difficult. I slipped once and slid on my bum all the way down to some rocks. It didn’t scare me. It was slow, but it did make me just want to be there already. The snow grips on my boots & the waterproof trousers felt like a godsend. I didn’t feel cold or wet. But I did just want to be on solid ground. When we got to the end of the snow, we hit rocks for what felt like miles. I didn’t like this at all! It was not solid either and I spent a lot of time on my bum sliding and stumbling down big rocks and finally made it to the flat where we walked across pebbles for ages until we finally stepped on to grass. We walked a little through the forest before coming across the big family again. They had spent an hour building a bridge across a very fast flowing river. They had actually cut down a tree and laid it across the river. So much for that machete being a waste of time! They were just crossing when we arrived and were pretty proud of themselves. As were we! We were very grateful too, because I think we probably would have either tried to wade across or well, I’m not sure what we would have done to be honest! They helped us across and then after a quick chat about where best to stay that evening, they carried on their way.

Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com

We knew the German couple from the night before were just behind us as we’d seen them on the mountain, so we decided to stay and have lunch on the side of the river in case they needed help crossing. They were actually fine with it in the end, so we just headed off on our way to the next campsite. We got to the El Bosque campsite quite quickly. It was a lovely shaded area next to the river, but the family had told me that it was worth going ahead to the next one, La Tetera, because the day afterwards would be a hard slog. So, we went with that plan and climbed further to there. We had read about a beautiful lake at that campsite and thought it would be a great place to spend the night anyway.

Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com
Hiking Cerro Castillo Day 2 - StefanieGrace.com

However, by the time we finally got there, we had got all sweaty again after the cold of the snow and it was starting to rain. The family were already there and told us where best to camp, so we parked under some trees and got the tent up as quickly as we could. Rob went down to wash in the river. I just hid in the tent and organised the bedding. The rain started to really come down and we just hid in the tent. At this point was about 7pm and we just stayed in the tent, talking, reading and eventually realised we would have to cook in the tent. Not advised (don’t try these at home, folks) but all we had to do was to heat water for our dehydrated meals, so we decided to go for it. After dinner, the rain was still coming down. I did a little bit of writing and reading, but we just ended up just falling asleep early after a very long day’s hike.

Day 3 is coming tomorrow!

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