The weather was variable but the the temperature was on a downward spiral. Los Perros, is the highest and most remote campsite on the ‘O’ circuit. We had been told that a pit toilet and cold shower would be provide but no meals. A tent would be available, but we would need to put it up and collapse it before we left. We had been led to believe that this camp was very basic with not even a shelter to cook in.
After Los Perros comes the John Gardiner Pass, famous for its extreme wind blowing straight off Chile’s vast southern ice sheet. An early departure from the camp is essential as the wind gets even more fierce later in the day.
With all this in mind we set off, braced for a cold damp night and a pre dawn departure the following morning. It was not a huge distance from Dickson to Los Perros and we did not want to arrive too early, only to sit out in the cold, so we set off late and took our time. It was a lovely path through thick forest.
Soon after we left the camp two horses came up the path behind us. On one was a Gaucho, a beret on his head, on the other, you guessed, a freezer! Why on earth would anyone transport a freezer up this path unless they were taking it to the Los Perros Camp? And if this were the case, surely there had to be power up there, and potentially a shelter with lights! Perhaps the camp would be more hospitable than we anticipated.
We had odd moments of sunshine and great views of the Catedral and Cota peaks. A fabulous bog, but too small for a seed snipe according to Andy. There were a number of bridges in varying states of disrepair and we stopped by one for lunch. Soon after, we heard the characteristic tok tok noise of a Magellanic Carpentario, a large woodpecker, the males are dressed up with a bright red head and yellow eye, the females with black head topped with a tuft of feathers, red around the beak and also, an intense yellow eye. Andy picked up a couple of sticks and started to beat out the double rhythm on a tree trunk. Soon, not one, but three birds were in the trees around us, inquisitive things that they are.
We continued up, into a section of dead forest, the trunks silver and smooth. We scrambled beside a stream and then onto the ridge of a terminal moraine. In front of us, the Los Perros Glacier, literally pouring down the mountainside. In the distance, off to our right, we The got our first site of the John Gardiner Pass, which at that moment looked rather innocuous. Not long after we arrived at the camp. Yes it was cold and damp, snowing in fact, a gentle but constant fall. But, the tents were pitched, walkers were congregating in the large communal kitchen, camp cookers were ablaze on the benches, warming everyone through and weary walkers were spinning yarns of their days exploits!