[Most of this post was initially first published under the Greater Patagonian Trail page on 9 June 2016, but I’ve just figured out how to publish posts under the page for specific updates on GPT, and so moved a chunk of words from that page to this post. And added the first two paragraphs for more clarity and effect. 4 Nov 2016.]
About a year ago, some friends and I were sitting around our halls kitchen chatting over dinner. It’s all very vague now how it all started, but somehow, plans to apply for Imperial College London’s student expedition funding emerged. Very shadowy and vague plans, involving various people and various places we could go and things we could do. From Conquer-stan (hiking?cycling? the various -stan countries) to hiking/cyclin the Western Ghats of India, a plan slowly formed to do this little-known, long-distance trail in South America – the Greater Patagonian Trail.
Over the Christmas break, we managed to pull a proposal together to submit to the board for consideration in Jan. I say we, but by time we consolidated the idea and started writing the proposal, I had ‘dropped out’ of the group, thinking I should perhaps not jeopardise PhD applications for this adventure. To all our surprise (or maybe just mine…?), the proposal was short-listed, and after an interview with the 8 in the group in Feb, the idea was accepted, and they/we could actually start thinking this would happen. In between that time and July, in a bit of drama that goes with all major events, people dropped out and people dropped in, and I came back into the expedition team, which was down to four.
[back to the original post]
A group of friends and I are planning to do a 1187km hike over 65 days starting end November/early December 2016. We are intending to start part-way through the established trail, at Coñaripe, hike 580km of it, and go on to establish a further 607km south to Puerto Ingeniero Ibañez. Most of it is in Chile, though there is a border crossing to Argentina at some point during the trail. The interesting thing about this trail is that, because of the numerous fjords and mountain glacier lakes, one can take a packraft ( an inflatable raft that can be kept in your backpack) and cover some parts of the trail by water. However, as a team we don’t quite have enough experience with water activities, and so we will just be walking the entire stretch (and taking ferry crossings if necessary).
It will be remote and the trail is unmarked, but never more than a day’s walk from the nearest settlement, and we will be camping for the entire duration of the hike. Our plan is to start somewhere around end Nov/early Dec, and it being summer, we should expect 14 hour days with temperatures ranging from 5 to 23˙C. We will be collecting GPS and trail information along the hike, especially in the second part which has not been explored yet. The information will go back to the Wikiexplora page to enable future hikers to plan.
The four of us are all masters students in Imperial College London, Silwood Park campus, studying ecology/evolution/conservation-related topics. This expedition has been approved by the Imperial College London Exploration Board, and we will be receiving partial funding from them, as well as some support with equipment. However, we are still short of some funds and so have started a crowd-funding site in the hopes of being able to cover our cost, as some of our team will not be able to make the trip otherwise. We are also still applying for other grants to cover the costs.
I’ll be updating this page over time, might try and do a microblog thing for the expedition or something along those lines (need to investigate the possibilities first).