Down South

Arrival to Las Torres del Paine! When we arrived we could not see them, but within 30 minutes the skies cleared and it went bluebird. It was a beautiful miracle.

Arrival to Las Torres del Paine! When we arrived we could not see them, but within 30 minutes the skies cleared and it went bluebird. It was a beautiful miracle.

I have just returned to Coyhaique from two and a half weeks of travel through southern Patagonia. On my previous bike trip I met a young women from Spain who I linked up with for this trip. As the trip went on we met lots of lovely people and hiked and ate and camped with them as well! I went from Coyhaique to Chile Chico and crossed the border to Los Antiguos, Argentina. In Argentina we visited El Chalten and El Calafate. We then made our way back to Chile to Puerto Natales and did the amazing Torres del Paine trek. We then went to Punta Arenas where I caught a plane and returned to Coyhaique.

Some panoramas from Torres del Paine and El Chalten:

Our first, and probably my favorite stop, was El Chalten, Argentina. We went on a one night backpacking trip, and I was in absolute bliss the whole time. Whenever I go outside I am reminded of how good being active outside makes me feel. Smiling the whole way, we hiked up to the Fitz Roy lookout and gazed upon probably my favorite mountain I have ever seen. It is jagged and rugged and if it were alive I’m sure it would have many crazy stories to share. Fitz Roy stole my heart.

It snowed and rained on the trip and some might have called the weather miserable, but harsh climates make me feel alive. I am eager to return to El Chalten.

Next we went to El Calafate which was a nice tourist town. I didn’t take many photos.

Next we went to Puerto Natales, a coastal town surrounded by gorgeous mountains. There we went through the tedious process of reserving camp spots for Las Torres del Paine trek. It took all day and required patience and problem solving, but the next day we were off on a bus to the Torres.

The first day started off with rain and clouds and we quickly came to the realization we may not see the Torres at all. I let go of that expectation and decided to enjoy the fog and my gore-tex gear. We hiked to Las Torres view point through a few downpours, but mostly a slight drizzle. When we arrived there wasn’t much to see. We could barely make out the frozen lake, but no torres were in sight. I enjoyed the lack of view, ate some food, and decided to stay up there for a bit longer. I had time to spare. Now unlike most people, I had never seen photos of the Torres prior to coming to do the trek, so I wasn’t really let down. And then the clouds began to clear. Little by little more and more rock became visible and suddenly I was staring up and these marvelous peaks. I feel honored that they decided to show themselves in my presence.

The trek is known as the Torres del Paine trek, but the seeing the torres is just the first day. the remaining days are filled with stunning views of mountains, rivers, and the biggest glacier I have seen. It is a wonderful trek.

The last day was a huge haul, but we found ourselves surrounded my an immense Glacier and it was definelty worth it. After the long hike we arrived at Camp Paine Grande where a ferry would pick us up and bring us to the bus that would bring us back to Puerto Natales. After finishing the backpacking I was hungry. I miscalculated my food along with my companions, so we were quite ravenous as we awaited the ferry at the end of the hike. A couple from New York gave us their leftover crackers, chocolate, tuna, and peanut butter and that was one of the most special moments I have ever had. It was pure bliss. With filled stomachs, we returned to Puerto Natales where we went out for burgers and filled ourselves up once again. It was a beautiful event. The next day we made our way to Punta Arenas where I spent two days in the city learning some history of the place before heading back to Coyhaique.

It is Spring/ Summer weather now and I couldn’t be more delighted. I wore shorts for the first time yesterday and have been smothering sunblock all over my face. It feels great after spending a month living inside my down jacket.

It is time to start fishing. Tomorrow I will buy my fishing license and start doing what I came here to do. In the next week I will also head north to Rio Puelo to work with a graduate student from OSU who is studying fish there. I am excited and ready for all to come.

Gloria Goni-McAteer