As I started out the hike to Refugio Frey, I got a lot of looks for being in shorts and a tank top, when most people had packs and jackets. Most people also had big day packs on their backs, while I had a handheld bottle-holder with bread stuffed in the pocket. Had I been less experienced with mountain outings, I probably would have questioned my choices. But I knew I’d be done with the route in a fraction of the time of everyone else, since I’d be running.

I’d also have a much higher core temperature. Sure, there’s always the risk of a twisted ankle. But I knew even then, the route is trafficked enough that I’d be able to call for help in the worst case. There was no risk of being stuck out in the cold overnight or in a storm, which would be the biggest risk without warm weather gear.

The first part of the trail was almost all bouldering, which was fun. The trail was jagged like the surrounding mountains, constantly heading up or down and rarely flat. There were many runnable stretches, but they were always short. So I found the best approach was to run hard when I could, knowing I’d be slowed by the terrain soon enough. It turned the run into a sort of interval session and kept me from overdoing it in the heat.

As I ran, I listened to the book Sweet Tea & Sympathy, which is about an event planner from New York who takes a job at her estranged family’s bait shop and funeral home in Georgia when her career goes awry and ends up falling in love with a local principal. It was the perfect way to escape for the day. Though I can’t say I learned much from it.

When I reached Refugio Frey, it was absolutely stunning. The vibrant colors of the grass and water were set against fiercely pointed mountains. I stopped to relax for a bit by the water and eat my bread before continuing. I started off the wrong way on the downhill, realizing it when the thick brush on either side of the trail closed in on me. When I found the right path, it was mostly runnable with quite a few switchbacks. Towards the end, I took a wrong turn again and ended up on a nice path that led me back to Cerro Catedral via a slightly longer route.

Once I refueled with a veggie burger and Coke, I drove back to Bariloche, returned my rental car, and checked into my new hostel. Then I set out for another 5-mile run, along the shores of Lake Neuquén, to finish my mileage for the day. I had a trail marathon planned and I wanted to be ready for it!

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Explore Unbound is a database of epic adventures. Think of it as a curated list of adventure ideas, ranging from the world’s hardest ultras to the most scenic ski touring regions. Depending on your style, you can explore by destination, time of year, or type of adventure. Poke around a discover the world’s top mountains, treks, ultra marathons, ski tours, and more!

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