Thursday, April 5, 2007

Day 5: Parque Torres del Paine

The morning started slowly (we had to wake up the hotel guy to make our breakfast), but quickly picked up. The Park is magnificent, and we saw a glacier and what they called an iceberg graveyard. Large chunks of ice from the glacier at the far end of Lake Grey float down to the other end of the lake near a sort of pebble beach. I found a set of guanaco teeth in the sand. It started pouring rain, so we squelched back to the van and headed for a waterfall. We picnicked in the van overlooking a lovely lake. The wind was too strong to stay outside the van for long. The sandwiches would have been ripped from our fingers.

--> A quick aside on the weather. We have been pretty lucky. They don`t talk about the weather here so much. Forecasts are laughed at, since it changes so quickly. We`ve had wind, rain, sun, cold and heat, sometimes in the same hour it seems. Aside from the morning walking to the glaciar cemetery and one bit in Puerto Montt, we haven´t had all that much heavy rain. Every day a little, but no big deal. In fact, we have had more magnificent, sunny days than bad ones. We count ourselves very lucky. Temperatures are generally around F 50 / C 10.

The wind is an amazing thing. It blows a lot, and hard. When you buy an outdoor jacket, you sometimes ask what all those zippers, clips, velcro patches, buttons and string pulls are for (at least I do). When you come to Patagonia, you discover them all very quickly. We were constantly tugging, pulling, snapping, adjusting, etc. to keep rain out, heat in, then heat out, etc.>--

Walking to the waterfall, the wind was so strong, we had to hold onto each other. Seriously. I have never seen wind like that, on the North Sea, English Channel, or any mountain I`ve been on. Apparently it is always like that there. The sun came out and we managed to walk about 4 km to a view of the Quernos (horns). The path was brilliant and easy, the distance nothing when you are constantly being treated to a new and amazing view. We got almost underneath the biggest mountains and goggled at the glaciers.

The path is lined with bushes that look lush from a distance, but actually are covered with 1.5 cm long thorns. When you brush against them, you feel nothing. They only sting if you try to reach inside the bush (not recommended).

That night we had a rousing dinner, with lots of laughs, and trying to dim the sound of the giant Coke machine in the dining room with us (we were the only guests). Guy and Annie are great fun, and we laugh all day long. It is great to go through the country with Lucie and Darrio. They`re easy company on a trip and we never have to wait for them, or constantly look out for washrooms or anything horrid like that.

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