a VirtualTourist member from Lutherville
Planning to hike full circuit in early December. Most itineraries plan for 9 nights, 10 days. We are very experienced hikers and cannot understand why Lonely Planet and others call for 10-15 km and 4-5 hours of hiking a day. This seems extremely mild. Does anyone know why this might be and if it can be done comfortably in a shorter time span?
. . .especially since this is close to the longer days of summer.
I am an experienced person (i.e. older) but not a conditioned hiker or runner. I do not remember the kilometers, but I easily put in 10 hours a day in early November with lots of light to spare carrying all I needed. I did experience a little next day cramping, but the hiking was comfortable.
The number of kilometers one can achieve is for me significantly effected by the altitude changes. I did not do the full circuit, so I can not say whether that trail is easier or harder than the shorter trails on a kilometer to kilometer basis. If I had had the time I would have added hikes off the W and full circuit trails rather than going on the full circuit.
Actually, when I got there I found that the full circuit trail was not open due to winter damage, consequently I was not even tempted. So before you go with your hearts set on the full circuit in early December you might try to get reassurance that the full circuit will be open or at least have a backup plan.
I've been to the park twice. First time was for the circuit. We started at Guarderia Laguna Amarga at 3pm, made it to Seron and dusk. Next day to Los Perros, then last day on the 6 pm boat out of Lago Pehoe. So the circuit in 51 hours, all in daylight in March.
Next trip down there was for the W, took the boat to Refugio Grey, then walked to Refugio Los Cuenos with a walk mostly up Valley Frances. Next day to Refugio El Chileno, then early departure the next day to see the lookout.
If fit, and willing to walk for 10 hours, you could do both trails in 3, probably more like 4 nights. You will be tired though.