Monday, January 22, 2007

torres del paine, parte dos

We camped that nite in the rain, falling asleep gratefully grounded after a shared meal with new friends.

By the fifth day, we felt really in the groove. It was so easy to fall into a brisk hiking pace and the thrill of the pass seemed to fuel us. We had accumulated a sort of collected momentum; an internal locomotion fueled by this kinetic energy. The wind was figuratively at our backs. We rolled up hills effortlessly and steep inlcines burned the legs without extinguishing this well of power; the fruitof the struggle over the pass.

The weather was glorious - warm, clear days that brought us in and out of deep river valleys as we circled the mountains which now stood to the east of us. But with the good weather, we also hit the `W`: a 3 to 4 day hike that most choose over the complete circuit. Its accessible by boat, so we passed tour groups in never-used North Face, leaving them in our gloriously stinky wake.

We celebrated Tamara´s 28th birthday with a HOT shower (surreptitiously enjoyed at one of the fancy lodges.) Then, later, a tasty meal topped off with the surprise I´d been carrying for 6 days: a no bake birthday cake. Just dip your biscuits briefly in water to build a base, layer with dulce de leche, top with apricot jelly and coconut, and garnish with local wildflowers and a match in place of a candle. ¡Feliz Cumpleaños Tamara!

After three days of sun, we escaped just as a burly storm came whipping in. Good timing, right? Well, with all the sun the glaciers melted and then a nite of heavy rain (during which we barely slept, as the tent whipped and cracked and pulled out stakes), we woke to swollen streams and chilly crossings. Hiked the whole day in the chaco sandals and were feeling good til we got to the river. Normally an easy crossing with the wire strung across for a little guidance, today it was insane. We crested the hill to the sight of it, and it took even me a few minutes to convince myself it could actually be done. i mean, we werent going to walk BACK over 100 kilometers and a KaRazy pass just 10k from our destination. So, what did we do? We took off our clothes. Yup, stripped to the waist, transferred the sleeping bags into the top of the pack, hitched the pack up around the nipples, and stepped into the freezing rushing waters muddy with run off and glacial dust. It really was sketchy, a fall and we would be tumbling down stream with a heavy pack. Even if we could hold onto the wire, with our feet swept out, there´d be no way to hold on.
I stepped in, immediately feeling that sharp pain of frigid water, before the numb comes. Carefully placing my steps, trying to breathe and stay calm as the cold and the danger sucked out the breath. In the middle, the water was pounding insistently, waist-deep. But i took my time, made it to the higher rocks mid stream, and watched tamara move thru a moment of fear, revealed in her face, to join me. The second branch of the stream was relatively easier, and we flopped on the ground, shivering on the other side (but not before i snapped a pic of tamara nearly across.) great last day of a long hike!

it was amazing: in turn beautiful, quiet, sublime, raw, cold, windy, meditational, intense, exhausting, invigorating, super challenging, scary, even dangerous, and finally so rewarding.


At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys - looks like you're having a ball. Happy Birthday Tamara!! I know Aunt Jessie sent a longer message the other day so I'm being brief. Your pictures look great - haven't had the chance to read much of the copy. When do you find the time to type all that stuf and load photos - it would take me aweek if I knew how. Have more fun. See you all when you get back. Uncle Bernie

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

david lee roth and van halen!!!!


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