"Not all those who wander are lost."
Posts tagged ‘patagonia’
Last week when I wrote about making a list of what I am grateful for in this past year, a few folks asked about that list. So -- here is a portion of that list, in no particular order (the numbers are there just because I like lists, not because of priority).
38 things I am grateful for:
I have been back in the states for a little over a month now. In some ways, my life has slowed down a lot. I go to the same place for work every day, I see my old friends. I just got my car back. I do 'normal' life things -- like get my car inspected. But at the same time, I am still in flux. Still very much in transition - sleeping on an air mattress with my sleeping bag as a blanket. Still unsure of where I will go beyond July 27th. Still unsure of what I want.
Patagonia is sick. There is really nothing else to say about it. But I will.
Big mountains, big glaciers and big winds. Patagonia is just big. Beth and I just got back from a fairly epic 5 day trek that involved lots of route finding, crossing freezing cold streams and a glacier, some high passes with strong winds that almost blew us over, and some life lessons.
Lesson #1: Don’t blindly listen to others.
The second morning of our trek was our first real challenge – crossing the Humel River, which incidentally comes straight from the glacier hanging right above it. To say that it is cold would be an understatement. As you might imagine water coming fresh off of a huge icecube would be. We arrived at the stream early, hoping for the river to be at its lowest. As soon as we arrrived, a man ran over to the bank across from us and told us that there was better crossing below. Instead of scouting the river, we headed downstream as he instructed and tried several times to cross the river. To the point where I was worried about hypothermia. To the point where Beth and I got worried that we would not be able to keep going. The river was high and fast. After hopping around, putting on almost all my upper layers, after frantically trying to rewarm our toes – at that point we finally scouted the river and found a good place to cross. Lesson learned — sure, take advice of others, but also trust what you know.
Lesson #2: Don’t take the easy way out.
On day 3 of our trek, we crossed our second pass. It was a beautiful day and we contoured along the hillside overlooking the Patagonia icefield. The day before we had a rest day at a beautiful lake and did an afternoon hike to a look out over the icefield which was incredibly windy, but incredibly beautiful. In any case, we finally arrived at the top of the pass, found some shelter from the wind and had a snack break. We looked around and figured that the narrow pass through the rocks must be the way down. It seemed that there was a path, there were plenty of other footprints. And even though it got really steep and seemed to be a drainage – we figured we were going the right way. Soon, we realized just how wrong we were.
All of a sudden, the drainage got narrower and steeper. We both expressed concern to each other, but we were still seeing footsteps. And, when we got our permit, the women told us about a very steep section that had a rope to aid with the descent. So, we continued on. When I say steep, I mean — if one of us had taken a fall, death would be certain when you slipped down the screen field and over the cliff into the lake below (but such a great view of the glacier meeting the lake). When the scree slope ended at the cliffs, we realized we needed to turn around, climb back up the 1000 feet we had just come down and look for the right way down. Needless to say, it was tough. Though I am not sure I have ever climbed that fast. we did not take a break until we reached the top and found the real trail.
One of us had said on the way down…. strange that the trail follows a drainage…. yeah. funny, because it is not a trail! trust your instincts!
Lesson #3: Always consult your resources.
On day 5, after camping on the lake in view of the glacier and listening to the glacier break off during the night, we thought we had an easy day in front of us. Ha.
Basically, we had to contour along the shoreline in order to reach the farside of the lake (and yet another river crossing). There were a few problems with this though — one, patagonia is full of prickly plants. And by prickly, i mean sharp thorns. So, frequent thorns and prickly plants were in our pants and hands and trekking poles. We did not talk much – as it was hot and hard work — other than exclamations of pain here and there. And two — the path was hard to follow — we frequently lost it and when we found it, we weren’t sure if that was the path or just a cow trail.
Finally, when we were getting close, we could see the end of the trail — so we started down – figuring we could make it down to the flat ground (we were contouring along a steep slope). We did all this without looking at our map – which would have told us that we did not descend until we reached the river – which was a long ways away…. up and over. So, once again, we had to retrace our steps. Lesson learned — consult your resources if you have them!
Tomorrow Beth and I will visit the glacier Perito Morreno, which is here in El Calafate. From what I hear — it is huge and amazing. i am ready to be awed.
following that day trip (it is about an hour and a half bus ride each way), we will take a 3 hour bus ride to El Chalten to start a trek on wednesday — this will be a 5 day, 4 night trek that brings us up near ice fields with hopefully some amazing glacier views within the Fitz Roy Range. It is supposed to be amazing. Looking over the map today during our planning session, i got so excited for it.
Following our trek, we will do another day trip (or possibly an overnight) but we are constrained by trying to get to Mendoza on the 22nd to meet Mike to prepare for Aconcagua. And, well, it is a 50 hour bus ride to get up there….. so, it takes a bit of planning.
I already know i want to stay in Patagonia a lot longer than I will be here. I will have to decide after Aconcagua whether I will come back or not (but buses here are SUPER expensive… but then again, it is Patagonia… when am i going to come back?). Or maybe just keep heading north to see the rest of the Andes. Who knows.
But what I do know is… I am so excited to see the Andes tomorrow and the Fitz Roy range. I look forward to sharing soon.
Take care friends — aurora
p.s. — if you want to see more (or see all our gear) — here is my friend Beth’s blog: http://wildmountains.wordpress.com/