Ok so we are back from the south, currently ensconced in an internet cafe. I have a blood blister on my right knuckle. Rawr! The countless nicks and scars are evidence of time well spent in Patagonia. We had to cut it a day short because julie has bum knees, but still it was a rugged and entertaining 4 days.
DAY 1 we set up camp (you know i'd never camped before this trip? when people heard this they gasped like i'd just told them i'm a 40 year old virgin) and hiked to the torres, which soar up from a beautiful turquoise lake accessable only by scrambling over a tall and frankly dangerous hill of broken rock fragments. the trail just disappears when you get to the hill, and all you're left with are orange dots painted on various boulders. you move up the hill by playing connect the dots. every so often a missed step would send a minature avalanche of rocks cascading downwards...
at the base of the lake we sat for a while taking it all in. i skipped some stones and thought of when a. and i went to sebastopol (to the russian river) and she showed me how to skip rocks. like camping, it isn't hard, but like camping, i had never done it before. nostalgia is almost always bittersweet but when i sat there looking at the torres and thinking about that day with a., i didn't feel that sad. mostly just happy that we'd had that day together.
DAY 2 we broke down our stuff, packed and took a catamaran over to the other side of the park. a strenuous hike (it felt like my pack was filled with bricks) led to refugio grey, which overlooks glacier grey. i'd never seen a glacier before. it looks like thousands of big waves froze in an instant. we set up camp and mulled around, and that night a tragic/incredible event occurred.
julie and i had walked out to the beach to look at the ice cold water and the chunks of ice floating near the glacier. as we sat on the beach, in the distance we heard a muffled roar. it sounded like ice falling. we figured it was just a routine minature avalanche (they happen all the time) and didn't bother getting up to see what had happened. the roar continued for a while and then faded. we noticed that all the water lapping onto the beach was suddenly receding. how odd. didn't think any more of it and then suddenly, with *explosive* quickness, the entire lake was rushing at us. everybody on the beach kind of laugh-screamed and we all jumped to our feet and scrambled backwards, eventually breaking into a full run to escape the oncoming waves. i've NEVER seen waves come up this fast. they came 30 feet inland before receding once more. everybody was wondering what the fuck had just happened...
then julie remembered her camera. she had left her camera on the beach and not grabbed it when we were scrambling back. she gasped in horror and ran back, but it was too late. the camera ($300 body, $600 lens) had been submerged in ice cold glacier water. the camera case could be seen floating out in the distance. the water was cold enough that if you fell in, you'd last maybe a minute before going into shock. wading in was obviously out of the question.
the case contained julie's roll of machu picchu pictures. the camera contained her torres del paine/refugio grey pictures. i'd only taken a couple with my digital camera. in short, it was a disaster.
everybody in the campsite was buzzing around trying to figure out what happened. we sprinted to the mirador (lookout point) about 20 mins from the site, and we saw an amazing scene. a HUGE chunk of glacier (bigger than a 10 story building) had broken off and plunged into the water. a few lucky people were hiking past the mirador when it happened, and they related the details to us. when the chunk fell off, it went completely under water (causing the entire lake to move inwards). when it came back up, the lake burst outwards.
i cant describe this, i just can't. i took some pictures that i will put up later. i think this is one of those things that you just have to see (or you have to have william faulkner or that guy who wrote "perfect storm" describe). huge chunks of ice were washed onto the shore by the waves caused by the glacier. in the night some people from the refugio lit candles inside the ice boulders. we sat there in drunken silence for a while (following the disaster, we'd commenced drinking heavily, even though the only alcohol you could buy from the nearby refugio was nasty boxes of wine= and eventually everyone stumbled back to their tents.
DAY 3 glacier grey fascinated us, especially in light of DAY2, so we signed up for this ice climbing tour that took us inside. at first we balked at paying $50 but i would have paid $100 in retrospect. we rappelled in off the side of a scary cliff, put on crampons and ice picks and started trudging through the pristine ice. there were 2 groups of 5, roped together. i was in "gee whiz" mode because the glacier was one of the most astonishing things i've ever seen. sorry, the superlatives must be getting tiresome but for real, wait till you see the pictures. well the few that i took anyway, you won't be seeing julie's. because the ice is so compressed, it becomes a very deep shade of blue that you rarely (never?) see elsewhere in nature. i am ashamed to admit that it made both me and margo think of certain mint commercials. anyway julie is clapping her hands together telling me to hurry up and i fear i am just getting nowhere with this. ok type fast, we did some ice climbing and also when we came out we had to climb the wall we rappelled down. another first, the first time i've ever been rock climbing. i was scared as hell because it was a tall cliff, but it was belayed so really not that much to fear.
the glacier ice had frozen into the weirdest shapes. there were all these hidden waterfalls and bridges and towers and things that looked like dolphins...
DAY 4 hiked out, back to puerto arenas (depressing hamlet that reminded me of northern exposure) and so on and so forth. in chiloe this old man took us to look at his hospedaje and when we told him we would think about it and return, he got all huffy and told us, "no les gustan buenos cosas". that has been our running joke for the rest of this trip. "you know what our problem is? we just don't like good things"
buenos aires tomorrow. i listened to some things on the bus-plane rides, they are charles mingus the clown, def jux compilation, bjorks album (ok honestly i didnt like it, bjork's voice annoys me) but julie is getting mad so truly i will go.
DRUM PATTERN AWARENESS (you know the bay got it)