Sunday, January 6, 2008

the patagonia trip: First sight

Our hostess kindly had breakfast ready for us this morning at 6am. By 6:25am, after sweet corn flakes, yogurt and toast we were piling our cab full of our gear with the help of our cabby.

We boarded our bus around 7am in a spitting rain and were quickly lulled back to sleep. The bus was chilly but comfortable with seats that reclined effectively. A few times I woke, feeling guilty about passing up the scenery, but a glance through the windows, which were bleary with condensation, reassured me that I wasn’t missing too much. It was only the flat terrain with the standard trees and scrub brush we had already become acquainted with.

 A few hours later, awake for good after some strange dreams, the landscape began to change. All of a sudden there were hills, then vegetated mountains and eventually larger mountains of dark crumbly rock with some small snowfields. When we reached the Paine massif, we saw only a whirling mass of clouds, but we knew we had arrived. The bus stopped at an outpost for the passengers to pay the $15 entrance fee. Dave and I spoke with a ranger about what we’d need to do from there. We would have to take a bus, which would come in four hours, one and a half hours to the outpost with the administration center, where we would have to get our climbing permit processed. Presently we are returning from the administration station to pick up our gear, which we left behind, and will take another bus to an outpost further in the park. There we will spend the night. 

 Back at the admin station we got to name our expedition. We chose, “Tradical Sabatical.” Also, Christian had left us an encouraging note. He said that he had stopped by to see if we had arrived and that he had some ideas for our days with him. He would meet us at Campamento Japanese on the 9th and we would try to climb on the 10th-13th. “Have information on the Bonnington-Whillans route on the central tower and also on the north tower,” he included. Those were the words that truly stoked us and those were the two towers that peaked at us through the clouds, giving us glimpses of their phantasmagorical proportions.

Arriving at our resting place for the evening was something out of a novel. The meadow was quiet and the air was comfortable and still. Horses grazed all about us, giving us room as we trod towards our tent spot. Laura would be floored by their casual proximity. 

After setting up our large family style sticks-out-like-a-sore-thumb tent, as rain spat on us intermittently and the Paine massif lorded over us, horses surrounded the tent to nibble on grass. Dave took the opportunity to pet one.

 Earlier in the day, a Che Guevera looking guy running the bus outfit told us of a man who had been missing for over a month. I was worried it was going to be a climbing accident that got him—an image we feared—but he told us it was a puma that got him. Hmmm. 

Tomorrow we’ll organize horses to carry as much as possible and we’ll start carrying up loads. I can’t wait to get this body working.

No comments:

Post a Comment