Day 8: El Filo

We woke up on our last full day in Explora with a view of fresh snow on the mountains. We knew it would be a bit colder today so we prepared with more layers. Jo and Matt were going to hike El Filo while Mom and Dad were heading to Laguna Condor. Since the hikes start very close to each other, we were able to share the van.

Let’s go to El Filo today

While Matt and Jo started on El Filo, Mom and Dad had an easy(ish) hike to Laguna Condor (a second time for Dad). They drove only about another 30 feet to their starting point, and walked along a narrow trail over the lake. They spotted black neck swans in the lagoon and learned about the three variety of wild orchids that grow in the forests. When they returned to the hotel Dad officially retired his 25 year old hiking boots.

Mom enjoys the hike to Laguna Condor

Dad points at his boots for the last time

Meanwhile, Jo and Matt, along with our guide Amelia, started the hike in Los Huemules Conservation Reserve, walking up along a ridge. It started with about an hour of hiking up 2,000 feet. There were amazing views as we got higher and higher. There were two Cara Cara birds hanging out in the trees who followed us for a while.

Trickiest part of the trail with rope to help

View of Laguna Azul and Matt’s shadow

Hiking along the ridge line

Cara Cara Bird buddies followed us for a while

When we reached the lookout at the top of the El Filo (meaning the edge), we saw a condor and a view of the Electric Valley from above. Rather than going back down at that point, we decided to continue along the ridge for another hour, and another 1,000 feet up and past the snow line to get a full 360 view of the area. We hiked up past the snow line and felt a few flurries. Along the way, we could see the effect the glacier had on the rocks. Many were split and/or showed striations. The fall colors were still vibrant and some trees were starting to grow out of the few inches of soil covering the rocks.

This rock looks like a puzzle box

High enough to hike in snow

Can you tell whose shoes are whose?

At the top, we could see nearly all of the hikes we had been on earlier in the week including Laguna del Diablo (even the refuge), Laguna Azul and Verde, and Laguna Condor. We found a spot for a tea break and learned that the Diablo valley is called as such because the trees turn a bright red in the fall, and in the summer and spring, there are many red flowers covering the area.

Red valley, snow, and sun rays make for a pretty nice hike

Glacial rocks and our tea spot in the corner

Matt matches the trees

Always appreciate a tea break

Thanks for the guiding, Amelia!

We made our way back down the same trail, stopping to get more photos as the lighting changed. Our pace was pretty quick going down and it only took about an hour and a half. We eventually made it to the van and ended our last hike of the trip.

I feel like I’m being watched

Fractured rocks

Looking over Laguna Candor – I think I see my dad

Every step looked like this

Looking over Laguna Azul and El Diablo trail

We all met back at the hotel for lunch and to get ready to leave in the morning. Matt took advantage of his free massage at the spa and we all enjoyed relaxing in the lobby that we turned into our personal living room. At dinner, we celebrated finishing our trip that was 4 years in the making with some champagne.

Thanks for an amazing trip!

Tomorrow, we leave Explora for the airport at 9:30, and plan to make a quick stop in El Chaltén. Then, its flights back to Chicago and back to the real world.

1 Comments on “Day 8: El Filo”

  1. What a great last venture hike! The snow and mixed gray skies make the fall coloring pop even more- stunning. Love the great photos.

    Safe travels home. Thanks for taking us along!

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