long distance hiking

What Is The GPT?

"The Greater Patagonian trail is not an official trail that was planned and set up by a government agency. It’s better: it’s a compilation of the most beautiful and diverse hiking and horse trails, minor roads and cross country sections through the Patagonian Andes selected by a passionate hiker." - Jan Dudeck 

That passionate hiker, Jan Dudeck, has come back year after year since 2013 with his partner, Meylin, to form what is now known as the Greater Patagonian Trail. The trail is constantly growing and to date, it is now around 3,000 km long and goes all the way from Santiago to Glacier Viedma in Argentina. The hope is to make the trail go to the southern tip of South America making it one of the longest and most wild treks in the world. 

The best part about the trail is that it wasn't created by any organization with financial incentives or other motives. This is simply one hiker looking to create a trail for other hikers. It's made up of horse trails, dirt roads, footpaths and other ways of traversing through the Patagonian Andes. The last consideration for the trail is a road with any type of traffic meaning this trail is about as remote as it gets! It's currently made up of roughly 33 sections with the most documented being Sections 1-18. Each section lasts around 2-10 days and 35km - 150km. The trail passes through temperate forests, mountain passes, snow-capped volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, pristine lakes and everything in between. It is one of the most diverse and unique trails not only in South America, but quite possibly the whole world.

The trail is called the "Greater Patagonian" trail because a good portion of the trail is not actually within the official boundaries of Patagonia. The first sections hug the borderline of Argentina and Chile and are about 100 km or less from the technical boundaries of Patagonia. The beginning sections are the ones that are most ignored though and which set the stage for the trail. 

Another very interesting and unique aspect of the trail is that it can also be done in a combination of pack-raft and hiking. There are many pack-raft options along the trail, especially farther south, that can be combined with hiking to access even more remote areas and explore the beauty of the landscape via boat. This adds another element to the adventure and is something that is lacking in most other long distance treks.

Also, the great thing about this trek is that anyone can do it! It does not require technical capabilities or anything "special", just physical and mental determination. Since the trail is so remote though, it does require a fair amount of logistical planning and making sure you know exactly what your getting into. These might not be most people's idea of a "trail"! 

For our journey, since it is nearly impossible to do all sections in one summer season, we have decided to skip some sections in order to capture as much of this area as we possibly can. We will also be strictly hiking until Section 12 and then will start pack-rafting in order to mix things up a bit and really experience everything the trail has to offer. Our hope is to document the trail and this region to the best of our abilities and really show what Patagonia and the surrounding areas are all about.

We would like to give a HUGE thanks to Jan Dudeck for his help in planning our adventure and overall for creating this trail. All the above information was taken from his wiki site below:

http://www.wikiexplora.com/index.php/Greater_Patagonian_Trail#Idea_for_the_Trail

This site really dives into details of the trail and gives everything you need to know if you're considering taking on this adventure. Without his help and this site, this documentary wouldn't be possible.

Lastly, we would like to stress the "Leave No Trace" policy as it's the most important thing while hiking. If you are considering doing this trek or any other trek for that matter, PLEASE make sure you are aware of local rules/regulations and stick to the "Leave No Trace" mentality.  We cannot afford to lose these wild places and it is our responsibility to make sure they stay as untouched and beautiful as they are today. 

Thanks so much for following our journey into Patagonia and we hope your excited as we are to see what the rest of the trail has in store for us!

Safe travels! 

The Long Haul

To say that our journey through Section Two of The Greater Patagonian Trail was a turbulent one, would be an understatement to say the least. As with all fantastic adventures though, the lows are met with equally intense highs, and my goodness did we have our share of both!


We set off from Talca (the capital of Chile’s Maule region) on New Years Eve and took a small bus to get us slightly closer to the trail. After a very long and pretty clammy bus ride where at least half of the passengers were standing, packed together like sardines, we disembarked, threw on our backpacks and got to walking again. It had been a busy morning for us in Talca that day and the rushing around like headless chickens trying to send packages to who knows where and restocking on who knows what had made us pretty tired...Needless to say we were all in bed by 9pm, even despite the chants, fire works, and music from the nearby locals celebrating the new year with family camping outings. 

On New Years Day however, we decided to head on and after a decent amount of hiking, we set up a fire, cooked some homemade (all be it slightly playdough-y looking) pizza and sipped on industrial quantities of Chilean wine. After a night of living like, what essentially felt like royalty in comparison to Sections One's soup diet, we were raring to go and ready to beat our distance records from the previous week. Unfortunately, Aljoscha's Achilles-heel injury was still bothering him and he'd just got a sore throat to boot, so, after a few kilometers on the road, we hitched a ride with a lovely local family and made sure to get an early night for a speedy recovery.       

                                     
At this point in the trip, we'd learnt from previous experience that our food supplies on the first section would not suffice this time around, so our bags were filled to the brim with all kinds of treats. It helped a lot being so much more prepared for when hunger strikes, or when 'Willy the worm' needs feeding (Aljoscha's insatiable appetite now has an alter-ego, just in case you were wondering who the worm was) but still there were times when it wasn't quite enough and the team was struggling to find the energy to keep hiking when we were burning such a high number of calories every day.   

Luckily, paradise came in the form of freshly baked bread and homemade goat cheese at a settler’s summer ranch that we passed by after a long day's hike. Jan Dudeck (the creator of the trail) had marked Irma's family ranch on his trail guide as a good place to stop to refuel and we did just that. Irma also agreed to be our very first interviewee! So, with Garrett firing off the questions, Robyn translating and Aljoscha filming, we have our first interview under our belts. Irma’s family were incredibly welcoming and had no problem with us popping in and out of their home to grab water or whatever we needed to take to our tents which they’d let us pitch right outside.

The surroundings were incredible with the goats, chickens, dogs, horses and even kittens roaming around freely, coming and going as they pleased. We were so intrigued as to how Irma’s family managed to live so self sufficiently so far away from any one else in quite literally the middle of nowhere; but since this is something they’ve been doing for so many generations in that very home, it’s something that comes naturally to them and it was obvious that they loved being there. Apart from their solar panel, small generator and infrequent trips to the closest town for supplies, the way they live is incredibly simple and from what Irma said, that’s what she finds to be most liberating in life.        


In the following days our ailments all surfaced and trekking through became just that little bit more of an effort. Anthony still had a pretty deep wound on his back from where he’d fallen and his backpack rubbed him raw, which hadn’t had the time to heal properly. He'd been a trooper continuing on despite the pain but since it was still not healing, it was a bit of a worry. Then Robyn got sick and was continually spewing up and down mountains for two days, which Aljoscha said was like 'leaving a breadcrumb trail of vomit'...That's one way to find our way back, I suppose!    


Through sickness and injury, we managed to muster up the little strength we had left to finish the section. The trail itself took us to some scenes that were nothing short of breathtaking. Those mountain passes may be hard in the blistering summer heat, but my goodness are they worth it for the views! We've been lucky enough to meet some very generous Chileans, stay on a Gaucho's ranch, hitch hour long rides through the countryside in the back of a passer-by’s pick-up-truck and even see wild foxes and their pups. Needless to say, after a few days of r & r in San Carlos, we are more than ready to get out there and see just what section 3 has to offer.

Hasta pronto!