As we come to the close of another year, I look back to how I started this year, by hiking through Patagonia. If ever there was a way to show a year that you mean business, it’s to kick it off by hiking through one of the most inhospitable yet beautiful regions of the world. After conquering this challenge, I knew I could handle anything 2016 threw at me. Hiking through Patagonia was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life, and if you’re even considering it I would encourage you to do it too. Here are 10 Reasons To Go Hiking Through Patagonia.
1 | It’s beautiful
I know I don’t have the words to describe the beauty of Patagonia. And I’m not even sure that photos do it justice, but have a look at My Patagonia Photo Diary here to see what it’s like!
2 | Make friends on the trail
Because Patagonia is such a major destination for hikers, you’ll meet people from all over the world when you go hiking here. It’s a wonderful feeling to make friends who you share this special experience with!
3 | It’s a physical challenge
Carrying 30lbs on your back, walking for 10+ miles a day, camping in a tent at night, not having access to showers and toilets, and going on like this every day for as long as you choose (a month for me!), well it’s a challenge. You put your body through a physical challenge like this and you realize just how tough you are. Trust me, it’s a good feeling when you finish!
4 | It’s a mental challenge
Probably more difficult than the physical challenge of hiking through Patagonia, is the mental challenge of continuing on despite all the obstacles. You reach a point where you have blisters, your back hurts, you have shooting pains in your ankles, it’s getting windy and rainy, and you just want to be home. But you have to continue on because you’re out in the wilderness and there’s no option to bailout. It’s difficult and it challenges you, but you realize just how capable you are. And you walk away with a whole lot of confidence in your ability to tackle anything life throws at you.
5 | It’s an emotional challenge
Trust me when I say that at some point when you’re hiking through Patagonia, you’ll break down crying because you just want to go home. You come out of this experience just fine though, and in fact you come out stronger because you find out that you can handle a lot more than you thought.
6 | It’s under threat of climate change
Patagonia is located right under the hole in the ozone layer…unfortunate. If climate change continues as it is going now, we may reach a day when it’s not safe to visit Patagonia. So do yourself a favor and go now while you can!
7 | There are no scary animals
Lions and tigers and bears…will not be found in Patagonia. It’s a pretty safe place for hikers considering you don’t have to be on the lookout for dangerous animals!
8 | Great place for beginners
Patagonia is also a great place to go hiking especially for beginners. As I said, it’s free of dangerous animals, and also it has all well-marked and well-worn trails. And all the water sources are clean because of glacial run-off so you don’t have to carry too much water in your pack. With these considerations, you can just go and enjoy the hiking without too much concern!
9 | It’s a winter escape
Most of us live in the Northern Hemisphere, where winter is generally a time of year to be avoided. This winter, head south to Patagonia where it’s actually warm enough to go hiking. You still have to wear long sleeves and pants to protect yourself from the direct sun through the hole in the ozone layer, but I’ll take a sunny hike through Patagonia over the blizzards of Boston for sure!
10 | Experience of a lifetime
Hiking through Patagonia definitely requires some planning and preparation (see my guide to hiking the W in Torres del Paine here), as well as a time and money commitment, so most people only ever do it once. This is a bucket list item you definitely want to check off while you’re young and able enough to make the most of it!