Puerto Montt, Chile
Been wandering off into the wilderness for the last few days. The real rewards here come at a physical price. Noticed a distinct absence of the beer-and-jollies backpacker crew as a result. We haven’t missed them much – though we’re heading back onto the trail now, and a conversation or two, even a drinking buddy, will be welcome.
But enough of that, lets get physical. There’s so much natural beauty here, and you can have it all to yourself, you simply have to be prepared to hike through the odd swamp to get there – knee deep for an hour at one stage (and bum deep for Marisa). You can get off the gringo trail here, but don’t expect en-suite bathrooms or a choice of restaurants when you arrive. First up we set off over a mountain pass amongst hanging glaciers (i.e. huge expanses of ice tumbling over cliff edges). When I say over, what I strictly mean is almost over, since waist deep snow eventually persuaded us to turn back. Frustrating, but at the same time a real chance to push ourselves, and we’ve felt so much more in touch with ourselves as a result. For our second course we climbed up to the peaks of another part of the Argentine mountains – the aptly named Cerro Catedral. Amazing spires of rock rising out of the snow. We camped above the snow line, by a frozen lake. Extraordinary sensation to wake up to that! And then, after jumping the border in to Chile, we took a gentle 3 day beach hike, or at least it would have been gentle but Patagonia never fails and provided the most phenomenal sandstorm for hours down one huge desolate beach.
Sounds good eh? But the little bit of boy scout hidden in me has really enjoyed the release. And in fairness, I don’t think you could appreciate Patagonia without getting a sense of how thoroughly wild it is. Its pure, untamed, elemental.
Just got back into civilisation today from the island of Chiloe, off the Chilean coast. A strange place, islands and channels like Western Scotland, patchwork fields like England, volcanoes looming in the background like New Zealand (I’m told). Totally enchanting to just wander off into little towns and wander about.
But back on the trail and in focus again now. On a 3 day boat cruise next week, heading south. Given the price tag, I think this will be a gringos only experience, and variety is no bad thing, so we’ll enjoy it. But the strain and pain have been worth it, because for the last week or two we’ve pretty much had Patagonia to ourselves!