Tierra del Fuego Glacier Hunting at Glaciar Martial

With one more day left to explore Ushuaia, and a million options for hiking the beautiful place, we opted for the glacier perched in the mountains up and behind our hotel known as Glaciar Martial. We almost returned to the spot of our dog larcening from the day before solely to purloin Ushuaia, the dog. Alas, we did not have the time to embark on that journey. Perhaps next time…. Returning to Martial, be prepared for a very steep climb up a very windy mountain. The breeze whips down the slope at a very vicious rate of speed, but not to worry… the trudge uphill will warm you up.

This is one of the most popular hikes in the area since it’s incredibly easy to access, so be prepared to encounter many groups of people. The jaunt starts at the base of the old ski slope. The incline is sharp without the aid of switchbacks to lesson the ascent. As we hiked, we passed some of the most out of shape people I’d seen the entire trip thus far. If you cannot walk without the assistance of a cane, this is probably not the excursion for you. If you even make it up the slope, you are bound the roll back down. Alas, we never saw any of these people at the glacier itself, so I’m guessing they gave up. In fact, very few of these groups made it passed the first mound of snow covering the path.

Anyway, once we made it up the entirety of the ski slope, we were greeted with a meandering trail winding up the mountain to the glacier below the peak. Once again, we were blessed with a sunny, bright day, but the last snowfall had draped the trail with shiny, white powder. The farther we climbed, the less vegetation there was. And the fewer people we came across. The final push switchbacked up the mountain over very loose gravel, so watch your step. Otherwise, you are in for a painful bounce downward. At least there was no losing the trail on this one!

As per usual, Hubs’ lowering sugar levels put the kibosh on my fast-paced hike upward. He never plans ahead, and I swear this happens every time we hike anywhere. Can you hear my massive eye roll as I type this? Damned Type 1 diabetics.

The wind really began thrashing as our final destination came into view as we traipsed upward. Hold on to your hats, they will blow off. We were rewarded with phenomenal views of the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia once we got to the top. There was a group of people lunching up there and another taking in the views. My lunch consisted of a protein bar, so I munched on that while standing on a glacier.

The wind rivaled that of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, so a handstand was a touch challenging out on the edge of cliff. I did, however, manage one at the sign for the “fin de senda,” or end of trail, with the glacier directly behind me. Do not expect the glaciers one might see if Iceland with brilliant blue ice-scapes, this was basically just an icy snowcap covering the mountain top. Still quite astounding in the shimmering sunlight.

Opt for the other trail in at least one direction – a second route is far less populated and serpentines through the trees bracketing the ski slope and river flowing down to the sea. It relied more on switchbacks, which was less torturous on the knees than the stupendously steep ski slope. Why more people don’t take this route, I do not know. It was quite pleasant.

And just like that, our time in the southern-most city in the world came to an end. The following day we would board our ship to Antarctica. Don’t worry, Ushuaia, we shall definitely have to return whenever we get around to hiking Patagonia. You were a VERY pleasant surprise!

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