Not having learned the lesson that some basic planning can spare me difficult situations, I arrived in Patagonia without a plan or a place to sleep. After knocking on few hostel doors, I quickly learned the small town of El Chaltén was entirely sold out.
I decided that sleeping is overrated anyway and that I‘d do a sunrise hike instead. So I grabbed dinner at a local restaurant and sat there until they closed at midnight, which seemed like a good time to start hiking.
After the first few steps on the trail, my flip flops broke. Thankfully, I had enough foresight to pack shoes, and although I didn’t have a headlamp, my iPhone provided enough light to show me the way on the moonless night.
Much to my surprise, the hike was quite easy and only took an hour. As soon as I sat down at the lookout point, I heard some movement in the bushes and panicked that it might be one of the pumas the locals warned me about. Sunrise was still 4 hours away and the temperature had already dropped to -5°C, so I thought I should just go back to the town. Then I noticed my phone’s battery had already depleted pretty quickly from the cold and it was too dark to walk the trail without light.
I sat there realizing that I really messed up. The only way to survive the freezing night was to keep warm, and my thin jacket wasn’t going to do that. So I spent the remaining hours of the night alternating between push-ups and jumping jacks for 10 minutes, followed by 20-minute naps.
That was enough to keep me alive until the sun rose and created this incredible view of Mount Fitz Roy!