or how seven days became 3... and how it was a success anyway...
After a four hour bus ride ... where I saw condors feasting on a dead sheep... you have NO idea the size of those birds... the largest flying bird.. they are themselves the size of sheep... even saw one hovering over the road and it looked to me the size of car... also saw great flocks of Chilean Flamingos. What a strange sight, these huge pink tropical looking birds, and behind them the Andes and glaciers.. what a land this Patagonia is.
The landscape is huge. Living in Alberta which can seem huge is small compared to this. The Andes rise above the Patagonian steppe like monsters. The steppe is so much like the desert around Osoyoos and area.. but huge.. alsmost as far as one can see in all directions.. this scrubby land filled with sheep.
So after arriving in Puerto Natales.. withing the space of a 30 minutes, in a strange town I got to a bank machine, withdrew money, found a bus to the Torres del Paine Park and was on that bus.... phew!!!!
So 2 hour bus ride to the park and then straight onto the Catamaran that takes passengers accross a lake and to the trail head of the W hike... amidst the most astounding scenery... the photos will tell all when I upload them.
So I arrive at the trail head at 6:45 in the evening with a far too heavy pack.. and off I go... hoofing it as fast as I can with a 20 kg pack.
The scenery and multitude of birds though kept me stopping to take photos.. then the sun started to get lower.. and faster I tried to walk.. lower sun faster walk.. then the pains in my legs started.. .
Luckily I had bought these energy gel packs from the outdoor store. SO realizing that in my rush the last meal I had was breakfast. Now let me tell you about Latin America.. breakfast is wonder break sweet jams and cake. Nothing that sustains...
So I guzzled an apple and cinamon gel followed by a mocha gel with 25 gms of caffeine.. and on I press.
My legs were really getting crampy.. and finall I had to stop and get my headlamp out of my pack.
On my own all I could do is think when I set up my tent I will get out the katmandu chicken curry.... that was my mantra in the dark.. chicken curry.
Anyway in the pitch dark, I arrived at the Refugion Gray. I have to say the most welcome lights I have ever seen..pitched tent and ate the MOST delicious curry ever.. even though it was freeze dried.....
The next day... I felt better.. but my right foot had a few blisters.. not bad.. so Off I went on a short 2 hour hike to the glacier..I can´t say how incredible it is to be in the wild.. harldy anyone around and sit and have my bagged lunch supplied by the lodge and sit meters above a glacier... part of what is the largest ice field outside of the poles... yes everything in Patagonia is HUGE...
So when I got back made myself some coffee and had some snacks from my pack including an apple cinnamon crisp made in my fry pan.
At dinner... I sat in the lodge.. at a table for four.. and as luck would have it made some new friends... one an Arizonian who is studying spanish in Chile and a German couple who live in Munich. Over a half bottle of wine ( it is incredibly expensive in the remote lodges as you would expect) we had a great coversation..
Furthermore.. I got so lucky.. as my Arizona friend could not hike out as he had pains in his legs.. he found a boat that came at 1 in the afternoon and he said he made a reservation to get on the boat.. I nearly screamed with joy as at this time my feet were hurting really badly.
So after a great sleep, which made buying a super air mattress style hiking bed and a great down filled bag so worthwhile. During the night a windstorm came off the glacier, and as the lodge is situated right at the foot of the glacier I felt the full brunt of the windstorm in my tent.. we are talking some serious wind and rain.
Anway got up and made coffee, twice in my portable camping espresso machine.. and then went to breakfast.. again bread and jam and instant coffe... hung out waiting for the 1 pm boat.
IN the meantime I gave my German friend my tensor bandage as she had sprained her ankle on the hike.
Made me think of how people who travel stick together.. almost like people who do this from all over the world are much of the same mindset. Almost makes me think that there is a huge ground swell of people who have the same desires for life, who want to live in a sustainable world without war and hunger... idealistic I know but I do know there are a huge silent community out theres that want that....
So I got on the boat despite a huge walking tour that showed up with pre-arrangements. Luckily my Arizona friend talks great spanish.. and arranged for us to get on the boat.
So I get on thinking.. great now I don´t have to hike out.. and well a boat ride.
HOW WRONG I was... the boat then went right up to the glacier and just then after the wind from the previous night the sun came out...all I can say is for about an hour I never stopped taking photos.. blue icebergs... monster sized floating jewels.. mountains reaching the heavens with perched glaciers and razor jagged peaks...
Once we landed.. we were on a huge beach .. and had to find transport. Luckily with my spanish speaking companion we hitched a ride with one of the tourist vans onto the park gate where we got our bus into Puerto Natales.
SO here I am with my hike I was so looking forward to shortened.. but I have to say it was still incredible.. and I would not have missed a minute of it.
Today I have a steaming cold.... so being on the trail wouldnot have been that great.
So off ot supper at a great place I found here in Puerto Natales where seafood rules, specifically King Crab. The place I am going to I had lunch there today and the chef recommended the king crab raviolli.. which I will have.
More to follow soon as I get really excited to travel to Puerto Madryn to see whales and penguins.. The Magellanic penguins and the Southern Right Whales are breeding now and dont leave the area until December when the young can travel.
What a continent.. and how huge.