The Blue View of Lago Gutierrez and Cascada Los Duendes
Eager to explore more of the gorgeous blue scenery of Bariloche, I decided to catch the bus to Lago Gutierrez. As seems to be the norm in many Argentine cities, I was directed to an unmarked street corner, told the bus would be coming along any minute now, and waited half and hour. As usual, I had no idea where to get off the bus, so I asked another passenger, who, thankfully was going to the same place. It turned out she was going home for a family reunion, and her excitement was infectious as she giddily chatted about her home town and how she was going to see her grandfather for the first time in fourteen years.
Saying goodbye to my cheerful companion, I hopped off the bus and walked along a gravel road by the lakeside for a couple of kilometres before coming to the entrance of some trails. My first trail took me through the woods to the Cascada Los Duendes, a nice waterfall where I sat eating a lunch of crackers and listening to the sound of the water.
The second trail led to a viewpoint over the lake, and was a steep uphill climb. Slipping on the soft earth, I held on to branches and slowly ascended the mountainside. I passed some others on their way down, who told me the trail got even steeper up ahead. They weren’t lying, and I scrambled up the zig zag trail, hoping I was near the top. On my way, I encountered a Spanish couple who approached me and asked in concerned voices whether I was alone. I said I was, and they asked, surprised “aren’t you scared to be out here alone?”. It was something I hadn’t considered until then. Usually when they hear that I’m travelling alone, people ask about loneliness, rather than security. Even when the issue of safety comes up, it’s usually referring to taking a taxi late at night in the city, rather than worrying about being alone in broad daylight on a trail. Their concern later turned out to be an omen, as on the way down I somehow managed to lose the trail and stomp through spikey undergrowth towards the sound of the waterfall until finally crashing my way back onto the trail.
I continued (bravely, apparently) up the mountainside, until finally, sweaty and out of breath, I could see the top. Mustering up the last of my energy, I clambered up the last leg of the trail, and sat, panting, on a rock overlooking the postcard view of white mountain peaks, green forest and the sparkling lake with the swirls of deep blue and green that I will always associate with Bariloche. I could hear other people panting and heaving themselves up the trail behind me, and I turned as one of them looked at me and asked through gasping breaths, “worth it?”. I smiled as I looked back over the idyllic scene before me, and replied “worth it”.