Greater Patagonian Trail northern part- summary and conclusions

The most important question regarding this trek is, did I enjoy it and would recommend the GPT to others: The first part of the question is easy to answer, I enjoyed walking the northern Part of the GPT very much! The diversity of the landscape from dry cacti country to high mountains, lush forests, colourful mountain deserts, towering volcanoes and beautiful lakes is fantastic, especially since the weather was very good, for most of the time. And one aspect I liked very much, might be not so welcome for others. The GPT is not only one trail, but a huge network, so everybody can create his own route, and there is still a lot of room for exploration! While the current "main trail" has a length of 3000 kilometres, there are about 12000 kilometers of route options!
Before I get into more detail, here come some pictures which illustrate the variety I found on the trail!
But I must emphasize, that for a huge part of the trek I didn't follow the main route but explored more remote options.

                      Dry cacti country just south of Santiago

                   The highest mountains of the GPT are in the very north

            Even in the dry north there are majestic trees in the valleys

                               Home of the arrieros- the cowboy dream is alive

                        Most parts of the trail are shaped by volcanoes

                                         Strange white sand deserts

                                            The gorge of the powerful Rio Colorado

                                                         High desert sunset

                                                      The large Lago Maule

                                                   Swirling sand in high desert

                                        Condors are frequently seen

                                                          Evening colours

                                                                       Settler life

                                   The beautiful Lago Dial

                                               Fuchsias and waterfalls

                                         Beautiful forest valleys

                                                            Laguna del Laja

                                              Hidden lakes

                                           Flowers in hostile environment

                                                Sierra Velluda at dusk

                               Glacier covered mountains

                                     Bizarre Araukaria trees

                                     Fuming volcano Copahue

Although Jan Dudeck who created the GPT has done a big deal in providing good informations, especially GPS- tracks, for somebody who is just used to established, well frequented, marked trails, the GPT will soon prove to be quite different. Knowledge on how to use a GPS device is absolutely necessary! I wouldn't consider the navigation especially difficult, just different from what most hikers experienced so far. But again, what might irritate other people I enjoyed thoroughly.
The GPT involves more planning than more established trails. I can't emphasize it enough, Jan's work is excellent and ever expanding so as a starter everybody who aspires to walk the GPT should spent a lot of time with his writings!
Not following a trodden path, but a mixture of different tracks, from the occasional cross country stretch over lovely horse trails to the rarely found vehicle track, there is a lot of variety. I enjoyed the huge number of single trails very much, because I don't like roadwalking, even on dirt roads with almost no traffic...
There are more possibilities to resupply as one would expect, but even my longest stage with food in the backpack was just 19 days. When you keep the rest of your gear minimal and light this is really doable. I would advice anybody who thinks about the GPT to research quite a bit about ultralight hiking. It really works! And things who seem to be unavoidable for "Old school hikers" like wearing boots, are really not necessary. O.K my trail running shoes were a mess after 1000 kilometers, but that is quite o.k regarding the often not very shoe friendly terrain...
As most of the time the temperatures are high and you basically cross deserts, one might think, that water is a problem. But not so, there are creeks almost everywhere even in the middle of a dry summer, so I never carried more than a liter of water!
A number of time I got quite thirsty but nothing serious. 
One thing I worried about are the private lands the route crosses. Quite often there are gates and signs indicating that no trespassing is allowed. While this indeed is a potential problem for hikers, on my trek I had no problem with this issue at all. I hope this will not change when a larger number of people goes hiking there! Key to keep the landowners in good mood towards hikers is of cause good behavior, like no littering, closing gates and so on. 
While I am sure that hiking the GPT is possible with little or even no spanish, it gets your sympathy at potentially not so happy encounters when you speak at least some words in the language of the country you are in. I regretted that my spanish is not good enough for proper conversations as that would have enriched my experience!
So far I met only two other GPT-hikers. While the number of people on the trail will surely expand, I don't see that there will be many hikers in the future. That is good, because by this the atmosphere of wildness and exploration will stay alive, but things like a trail community and frequent meetings with like minded walkers will probably remain rather rare.
Regarding gear, I would take a warmer sleeping bag! As most of the time I did quite well with my 500 g downbag, there where some frosty nights were it was insufficient. A one kilo downbag would be a much better choice!
Securing the matress with a cord should never be forgotten unless you like to sleep on the bare ground, like I had to do!
Yeah, and after all I am happy to announce, that in just a little more than two months I will be off to Patagonia again, continuing the trail, this time with a Packraft!

8 Kommentare:

  1. A wonderful overview of an incredible trail!

  2. Thank you for your nice comment! I just can't believe how beautifully diverse it was, when I see the pictures!

  3. Ein sehr schöner Bericht mit super Fotos!!
    Da bekomme ich gleich wieder Lust auf Patagonien:-)
    lg Bernd

  4. Vielen Dank Bernd! Ich freue mich auch schon, dass es bald wieder dort runter geht...!

  5. Wunderschöne Bilder:)

    Und interessanter Text.Und weil Du dich das immer gefragt hast -- dein Englisch ist echt gut, (wenn ich auch kleine Dinge anstreichen würde:) "Berufsrisiko".
    Ganz viele liebe Grüße

  6. Danke für den netten Kommentar, Kristin! In Deutsch zu schreiben, gefällt mir eigentlich besser, aber auf Englisch können halt mehr Leute Teil haben!

  7. Hi Gerold. Just finished the INT, and now I'm thinking about the gpt. What are your experiences with the river crossings on the gpt? Had some problems with that on the TA, cause I'm not a big fan of water..

  8. The northern part of the GPT which I did in January and February is dry and often hot in summer. So it sounds like it would be something for you...River crossings are mostly no problem, but on my variant I had to turn back at the Rio Colorado.