Today was an extreme contrast to yesterday when we took a long bus trip across endless desert, strong winds, intermittent rain, blocked foggy views and freezy breezy temps. We stopped at the Malodon cave which was cold. Maybe the Maladon lived here with his big claws like a bear, his red skin that had a layered texture, with sloth like paws and a head like a horse with a flat nose. Maybe the stalactites angle into the 200 meter laguna because of the strong winds – but I didn’t care. All I could think of was maybe I needed another layer to last 8 more days in this bleak place!
By now, this morning, our new group of 10 hikers and 2 guides heads out for a carefully explained trek after another delicious meal of yummy food that seems to arrive out of nowhere. We packed up a small duffle bag issued to each trekker to be carried ahead by the two porters who RAN to the next camp. Today my lunch and my camera feel pretty heavy in my waist pack, but as long as I can keep shifting it side to side, it seems ok.
Two of the three horns of the Torre appear early in the trek. These are not the Towers that we will see in 6 days. Roberto, lead guide, age 38, sets comfortable pace that the group adopted easily. Gabriel, assistant guide this year, age 24, took up the rear post where I learned from him 4 names of the main plants I repeat over and over: lingue, choiway, nirre, firebush. We easily handled the gentle rises and dips along the crest of land that borders a very deep turquise lake (colored by sediment from the glacier). We get water right from the stream today and every day, only filling the bottle half way since we don’t need to carry more.
We stopped for our hand-made-by-yourself lunch on a rock barely knowing each other’s names – albeit we had done that introduction game last night before dinner. Beautiful view. Good first day vibes that I won’t hold anyone back. Life is feeling outstanding – when a pack of Japanese descend on the same rock for their lunch. Juliette and I had a grumble about this. She couldn’t find a place to pee or wee as she said from Dorset, England, with all these people here. (I know now she is a 35 year old anesthesiologist – we had two of them in the group! Eric is mid 50’s and came with his wife Pamela. They have 2 poodles in Utah). We will be sharing the trail.
Then off we trek again for another view of Bariloche, the southen (on the left) peak of these Torres. In 1957, 2 of 4 climbers from Bariloche were killed in an avalanche on the east side where they are bad. I gotta get my mind around the compass points down here where I am up side down near the bottom of the world.
After settling in, finding the duffle, etc. I have climbed up behind the camp. I am sitting on a rock above a 4 story waterfall above our refugio camp. Lena arrived first. She will be at the front of the pack all week. She is single from Sweden where she is in charge of a corporation. It is her 50th birthday. She is one very happy lady. So am I. She and Juliette hop in the hot tub with a beer that they find pdq. Michael and I have our own cabin with a sky light and a pot bellied stove. Michael joins them! Great pix. I wait til the water is really warm and have the tub to myself. Ahh.
The sun will be up another 4 – 5 hours. It is playing with a huge dark cloud that is kicking up snow storms on top of the glacial ridge of Bariloche. The three horns to the right side of the valley are completely visible. Their sides look like elephants; this is wind worn granite that is a band of white/grey that makes up most of what I can see. The tops are a striation of sandstone that is very dark. Looks like igneos rock to me, but Chilean translation is sandstone.
We’ve seen condor, a small American kestral (hawk), a fifi (sounds like that) that hops in the matte barrosa. Matte barrosa (mud) is a mound of thorny green vegetation where birds and insects live so protected from the wind, some of the bugs don’t learn to fly.
Maybe we will have wind soon? None today. Dinner at 7. Wine is on the table. Pumpkin soup is white and thin. Everyone loves it. It turns out there is a boat that comes across the lake to bring supplies that are brought up in a little all terrain vehicle. The water is hot in the bathroom which is in its own little cabin for all of us to share. It is a heck of a long way away in the middle of the night. So I sleep with shoes and parka propped by my pillow. Be prepared.