-and fast internet-
The allure of Patagonia summer has enticed another gringo to change his travel plans, pare down his pack, and "go gaucho". The Northern Hemisphere will always be there.
I'm now stationed in the old Spanish port of Puerto Natales, Chile. Located on a 100+ winding saltwater inlet, Natales is hanging out at the end of the world. Or, as some maps here show, perched aloof at it's apex.
I'm hanging out here with fellow gringo Clayton, a friend from Boulder who's been living and working here for the season. He has a wonderful network of Chilean friends here in town, and they've been more than enthusiastic to help me out as well. After all: "Los amigos de mis amigos son mis amigos"
So I've been hooked up with a free place to stay and a ready made set of adventurous friends with whom to share this amazing place. And thankfully we aren't that far from civilization, the internet is fast!
So, without further blather, photos from possibly my new favorite place on earth: the Paine!
The Torres (towers) of Torres del Paine National Park. The east faces catch brilliant morning light, so here's a pre-dawn shot of towers and stars.
The sunrise was obscured by clouds, so I was almost tempted to hike down. But lo, the clouds do part!
Of course the climbing potential here is enormous, but I was glad to just be hiking. Packs are way lighter without all that climbing crap! (more room for whiskey!)
One of the unique aspects of the Paine is the forbidding, glaciar choked, vertical granite valleys are interspersed among lower elevation forests, meadows, beaches, and blue greeen lakes.
The Valle Francais, in the heart of the park, is maybe the most isolated and stunning spots I was able to visit. Ringed by ridiculous amounts of pristine white granite (with very, very little climbing activity so far...) this place inspires me to build a base camp and live here for two months. If only they had more than a few days of good weather per year.
The best part of travelling, or course, is the amazing people that you meet. Jay and Susie, both native Michiganders on a epic round the world ramble, were in Natales and so we all met up for this five day backpacking trip. Suerte Amigos!
On our last day, we wandered up the shore of the sculpted and enticing Lago Grey. Enticing, that is, until you round a corner and see the massive Glacier Grey, cascading directly into the lake. So no swimming here.
So yes, as soon as you close this page, go start searching for cheap airline fare. Start daydreaming, packing your bags, flipping through your old spanish textbooks. Start planning. Next winter in the North isn't that far away, exactly as far as next summer here.