Saturday, January 12, 2008

the patagonia trip: Bailure

We woke to find the same wretched conditions that plagued us throughout the night. Our largest problem, we discussed, would be the high winds, which we could hear as a constant jet roar high on the ridge of our route.

In everyday life, wind is but a nuisance. Here, were a characteristically Patagonian gust to hit us as we traversed the ridge over the 2000' drop, it could spell disaster.

"What would you guys do if I wasn't here?" Christian asked.

"We'd wait as long as possible while still leaving enough time to comfortably finish our route today. If the weather was still bad, we would retreat," I suggested.

And with Christian's approval, we went back to bed with the time of our final decision postponed for two hours, until 11am.

I fell back to a wonderful sleep in my soggy carapice and woke to christian calling for action. It was 1030am and we needed to be on the move at 11am.

11am came and our choice was clear. Patagonia would not let us pass today. There were a few patches of blue sky, but the evidence of violent winds remained. We would have to retreat, which meant continuing south, down the Bader Valley to a trekking path, which we could take east to La Hosteria Las Torres, where we camped the first night upon arriving to the park, then north along our load-carrying route, up to base-camp.

Unfortunately, Dave and I began the day where we left off the night before with our injuries: Dave with his knee and me with my dang heel. We ploddingly descended the valley over miles of loose talus.

We finally reached vegetation and their sweet aromas which contrasted with sterility of the high valley. To distract ourselves from the endless march, we ate Chowra berries, las manzanitas de las montanas, from bushes we passed along our passage.

As the hours passed and we still had miles to go before we reached even La Hosteria, my mind fell into a deep funk, that was difficult to escape. Finally on the trekking path, I felt like snarling at the others trekkers. Around Dave and Christian I managed a decent outward attitude, but I stayed mostly in my head, with my only positive thoughts being of Laura, whom I felt would be the only one who could understand me in this state.

Decided on camping at La Hosteria Las Torres, Christian and I hurried ahead of Dave, who was using a stick for a cane, to retrieve the large family tent Dave and I had stashed at the refugio and set up camp.

Chileans came out of the woodwork to greet Christian. Before long we were all seated at the refugio to have a hot meal with one of Christian's friends, also named Christian. Christian segundo spoke of a distraut family whose son broke his ribs and how they could not get a helicopter.
With the help of a delicious pisco sour I managed a few social graces.

Sated and relaxed, Dave and I returned to our family style palace for a deep sleep.

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