Fall trekking: Shelter Italia and Laguna Negra
Every season has its own particular charm and Fall is an outbreak of colors. Furthermore when it’s about venturing a little into the heart of the Patagonic Andes. Let B.S. Melina Paoloni lead you through this Bariloche path….
This trekking tour starts in Bariloche, from where we depart by car or by bus of an urban line (N° 10) belonging to the “3 de Mayo” company, travelling through the approximately 21 kilometers that separate us from Colonia Suiza. The path, which is well-signaled, starts at 300 meters from the bridge that crosses Arroyo Goye (Goye Stream), on our way to Colonia the path gets into a very leafy forest, along the shore of the stream almost all of the trip, all along the valley.This water course is a show in itself since during the journey we’ll find clear water sites, rapids and many falls of a great scenic beauty. In a warm fall day, after going through a first distance of non-native vegetation, pines, we got into the real Andean Patagonia forest. We include here a description by Dr. Rodolfo Venzano, who explains the characteristics of this forest in a magnificent way:
“…The grand and main cause that attracts tourists that come to Nahuel Huapiinstead of going to any other place in the Argentine Republic, is the forests of a tropical abundance but in an always-cool climate. They frame the lakes and snowed mountains in a unique way. We are speaking of virgin dense jungle, with trees of all ages. The oldest ones, abandoned to themselves, end up uprooting and falling down, generally under the weight of the winter snow. Few times the fall down isolated, they drag one or some of their giant neighbors in an incredible collapse… The soil is a mixture of humus, leaves and rests of trunks getting rotten; it’s almost always impregnated with water but at the end of summertime when it dries and becomes a high ignition fuel. The walking in the araucaria forest is almost always full of difficulties if you don’t take a steep path; coligües, kind of a tall and firm bamboo, cover the slopes densely and make vision and advance difficult for the walker. Add to this the large fallen trunks you have to avoid and also the beautiful but uncomfortable cane scrub that acquires an extraordinary growth thanks to the sunlight that gets to this place. Above 1500 meters you’ll find the “caneless” lenga forests, which can be visited comfortably…” *
At the time of our tour, fall showed its presence clearly, coloring the vegetation in yellow, ocher and purple and giving the walking a special quality, different according to the time of the year:
“…the forests of lengas and ñires that cover the slopes, are colored from the highest garnet to pale yellow, through intense red and orange, and with the curious characteristic of having every tree a color according to its own period of leaf regression, so the wooded slopes look like a mosaic in its variation of colors; also, increasing the contrast, you’ll enjoy the dark green spots of the coihues and the light green of the cypresses. Fall happens to be the best time for tours and walks…” (* Venzano, Dr. Rodolfo D..”Guía del Parque Nacional de Nahuel Huapí”. Year 1935.)
To the west of the valley we have the company of Cerro Lopez, and to the east the range Bella Vista and Navidad. In two sections of our walking, we’ll go through flooded areas where we’ll use fallen trunks, which are there especially available to cross.
After about three hours of constant walking we’ll get to a cascade, further ahead we’ll cross the Arroyo Navidad (Navidad Stream) and then the one that comes down from Laguna Negra (Black Lagoon). There the “spirals” leading to the shelter begin. You have to be very careful because, since ascending slope is in a shadow area, even in the fall there could be ice on the way up.
The shelter, 1650 meters above the sea level, stays open only in the summer, from December to April, and has capacity for 60 people and kitchen, diner and drugstore service. It’s a very cozy place with a rural stove and several windows overlooking the lagoon.
Manfredo Segré was an Italian who left the building of the shelter as his legacy, since Bariloche mountains, especially this place, were his passion. It was open in January 1970.
From the place where the shelter is located the views are many and magnificent: Cerro Negro, Cerro Navidad, Cerro López and the valley we walked along, highlighted in the fall by the reddish color of lengas.
A walk to Filo can be organized. From there the view of the horizon is almost complete and outstanding. Cerro Bonete, Cerro Tronador, Laguna Cab, Brazo Tristeza, Cerro Navidad, Principal Tower of Cerro Catedral, Nahuel Huapi Lake, Puntiagudo Volcano (Chile) and Lanin Volcano can be watched in a clear and clean day.
In summer, shelter Italia – Manfredo Segré is the starting point for other tours. The shelter keeper in charge is prepared to give all the information about them and about the conditions of the slopes and the paths.
It’s important to warn that the slope is very dangerous in windy days, which can achieve the speed of 120 kilometers per hour; therefore caution is recommended and if possible go up the mountain with good climate conditions.