A good day to acclimate to the weather that would be facing us for the next seven days. After a day nosing around Punta Arenas we caught a bus into Torres del Paine National park and the heart of Patagonia. We made a brief stop at Milodon Cave, the site of the discovery of prehistoric evidence of extinct Paleozoic creatures. Our last stop before entering into the gorgeous and wild lands of Patagonia.
puma loping along a gravel bar alongside a river. He didn't seem particularly surprised to see us and didn't seem too concerned that we were there.
|He didn't seem too interested in us. Guess we didn't look tasty.|
|EcoCamp with Torres del Paine in background|
|Site of the avalanche|
Oh well, a warm up for the next day, a long tiring uphill hiked up French Valley. This was a long slow slog, with a quick stop at Camp Italiano before continuing up the valley to Mirador del Frances. Halfway up we heard a load and ominous rumbling of thunder--except it wasn't thunder, it was a massive avalanche, fortunately across the valley and we had an awesome views of a huge shelf of ice break away and rumble down the mountainside into the valley. After that show we continued up the valley to take in the view of the Frances glacier at the end of the valley. A challenging hike and we had to descend yet and make our way across low fields to our next overnight at Refugio Paine Grande, an easy flat hike but long and tiring and we were beat by the time we hit the refugio. Refugio Paine Grande is a dormitory style lodge and after a quick dinner and a couple of beers we tumbled into our beds in a shared room with another hiker from Brazil.
Finally made it, caught a boat across Lago Grey and saw the most surreal blue glaciers ever. They seemed to be lit from some unnatural but beautiful light within, a breathtaking blue.
It was well worth the tough hike.
|Drink and a toast with whiskey and glacier ice.|
But we looked forward to the next day's trek--a hard hike of eight hours roundtrip up to the foot of
Our last days were spent hiking the steppes around Mirador Laguna Azul, gawking at 6000 year old petroglyphs, herds of guanacos, Andean condors, breathtaking scenery and grasslands littered liberally with the skeletons and remains of guanacos--the result of predation by pumas. More skeletal animal remains than I have seen anywhere--including the Serengeti.
Bottom line--on of the most beautiful places anywhere. Go.