The W-Trek, Los Cuernos to Francés

After eating breakfast and collecting our provided lunch we packed up and left our cosy cabin and began the shortish walk to Francés. Again we had misty weather conditions as we descended towards the lake.A stream with water levels that had risen overnight presented a small challenge but we made sure we went slowly. Here’s  another couple, who had waited for us to cross, going in the opposite direction.Here’s another shot showing the origin of the stream up above us.After about half an hour the trail came onto this beach.At the end of the beach we headed back inland and began a steady climb.It took us about fifteen minutes to reach this viewpoint back to the beach.We trudged on for a while, perhaps another 45 minutes or so. Eventually we also had a view of the glacier covered mountains above us.Within a further five minutes we had our first stop for the day in sight. It was the ‘domos’ (domed houses) of Francés camping area below us.A descent of about twenty minutes and we were dropping our luggage off, ready to return to later on in the day when we would officially check in.We headed off again with only a daypack, much better for the back! After about forty minutes walking through the forest we came to a viewpoint up into the mountains of Francés Valley. I set up the camera, on my daypack, on timer for this shot.A further fifteen minutes walking and we had a great view of the Cuernos also.We continued along the trailarriving at Italiano camping area about twenty minutes later.After walking through it a bit we came to a swing bridge crossing the river to the west. The next day we would be using it to continue on to Paine Grande

but we still crossed partway to take in these awesome views both downstream

and up the valley.As we walked the scenery was constantly changing.We stopped here and ate our pre-packed lunch. Much as the water looked pristine, and fast flowing in this spot, we always added a water purification tablet into our water bottles to play it safe.Rock hopping across a streambrought us onto a saddle where the path was a mixture of gravel, rocks and tree roots.Below us to the left the river was smashing down.As we climbed up above the tree line we had wonderful and varied views in all directions.This view gives you an idea of just how far up we had climbed since walking along the beach of Lake Nordenskjöld earlier that morning.This photo was to the north.Again, I set up the camera on timer to take this shot of the two of us, glaciers in the background.Just as we were deciding whether to push further up the valley to Britanico lookout the weather helped make the decision. What had been encouraging weather one minute, was no longer minutes later. Given our return trip to Francés was going to take two and half to three hours we felt it best to make tracks back.On reaching Francés we checked in. Our ‘domos’ housed eight in two half rooms, each with two sets of bunks. One end were toilet and shower facilities. We took a shower and chatted with our room mates, a young couple from the US. Given there were only three ‘domos’, dinner was a much smaller affair than any previously with only 24 hikers. Following dinner we were quite happy to take an early night.

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