Monday, January 08, 2007

Carretera Austral

everytime we leave argentina, we are pummeled by rain. A month and a half ago from uruguay, we were shaken from sleep at 5am and ushered off the bus into darkness and a torrent of heavy, driving rain; left at the side of the road, our only shelter the soon-arriving, over-priced taxi.this time, we were delivered to the frontier in the back of a pick up truckk, 10km past the destination of the amiable family in the cab. We walked in full rain gear, crossing the kilometer that is neither argentina nor chile, in a swirling mist. Since then, the rain hasnt ceased.We spent a few days on the unheated floor of some rafting guides, then headed south on the carretera austral: a would-be road connecting distant settlements in remote southern chile. for now, its a 2000km long mud pit. The road snakes thru glorious mtn scenery, lush forests, steep peaks, glaciers, and fjords. Or, at least weve been told.We did see the thick, dripping forests of verdant green. but raising our eyes, the trees faded into ghostly mists and sheets of rain. We decided to brave the elements at Queulat national park. We were told it always rains here, so why not camp now? We set up camp at 8am under a slanted tin roof for tents (a godsend!) and over the next two days it rained 97% of the time. But that first morning ws beautiful. The rain slowed, the mist lifted, and we set off on the muddy trail to the viewpoint.The trek thru dripping forests and ankle deep mud was rewarded two hours later. We emerged at a cliffside clearing to views across a steep valley to the ventisquero colgante: a massive hanging glacier glistening turquoise blue against the overcast sky. Me and T sat damply on a log, mesmerized by the spires of ice, shining blue as if illuminated from within. After a time, we were shaken by the awesome sight of a piece of the glacier cracking and toppling hundreds of feet to the rock face, shattering, and reigning down a thousand feet to the glacier-green lake below.With that, we headed down, arriving thoroughly wet (our waterproof jackets revealed their inadequacy after a few hrs in the rain.) We peeled of our heavy clothes, stepped out of soggy shoes, and climbed into the tent, not emerging for 17 hrs, sleeping through the shortest night of the year; bringing the summer solsitice in the southern hemisphere.


At 12:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos!
Great stories.
Happy New Year!
Don't worry, we'll celebrate (again) when you come.


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