Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Adios, Patagonia

We spent another day, more or less, in Puerto Natales, packing, waiting for the (as usual) delayed flight onward. Below are some more pix of Puerto Natales, which I sort of liked. It is the gateway to the Torres del Paine NP, attracting thousands of trekking aficionados every season, yet it seems to insist on its own regional identity. We found only two (2) stores that sold Torres del Paine merchandise (T-shirts, magnets, patches, etc.). Major business opportunity here, considering....
Block-long mural of note

Distances, hither and thither, customary for
extremes such as this

Maybe next time

The giant sloth, again; tastes like chicken

Our last night before the trek we tried the
trendy Aldea restaurant

Sometimes you need to just look at the menu and say "no
thanks" and leave; several prospective diners did just this;
but not us (that is, me); the mains here consist of hare and
lamb, conger (not eel, they said), and a veggie

So I went for the seafood curry appetizer (should have stopped
there, despite the fact it was tasty and ample)

This is the first restaurant we have visited in 50+ years where
there was absolutely nothing on the menu Vicki found desirable;
so she had some tomato soup; but did not complain

While I enjoyed the conger and whatever other stuff; sometimes
trendy is just a bit confining; anyhow, the redeeming aspect of
this restaurant was that the person who waited on us, a Chilean
national, had gone to college at The University of Montana, in
Missoula, graduating in 2008, the very year we retired and left
Missoula; an English lit major, too; since then she has traveled
the world, winding up, for now, in Patagonia; not the first
person we have met from tiny Missoula

Old but still functioning old cash register at La Mesita Grande,
our favorite in Puerto Natales; great pizza served at one long

Adios, Patagonia

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Day 7 On The W: And Now, The Exciting Conclusion...

Last night in the tent...last trail meals...last day hiking...and the rain that had threatened on Wednesday finally delivered on Thursday. We had a quick breakfast in the cucina/dining room, donned our rain-suits, and walked further up the trail to another mini-mirador. All rain, clouds and fog; you could barely see the glacier. We snapped a few pix, went back to the campground, de-camped in the rain, and then began the 7 hour (for us) trudge back to Paine Grande...then the return...waiting for the catamaran, the catamaran ride, waiting for the bus, then the 90 minute ride back to Puerto Natales. Unpacking in our room at Nikos' and setting things out to dry took another hour. But we were still quite pleased with having done the W.
At the mirador

A last look at Glaciar Grey; in view of the rain, the lack of
visibility, I took no further pix on the hike back to Paine

Aboard the catamaran; everyone soaked and cold but glad to
be headed back

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 6 On The W: Paine Grande to Camping Grey

The last prong of the W, east to west, takes you over to Lago Grey, and then up its east side to Glaciar Gray and the campground just short of it. Despite the previous night's rain, the day was dry, if cloudy and threatening.
Marching on around "Teewinot," merely the south side of Cerro
Paine Grande

"Teewinot" means "many pinnacles" in Shoshone (or possibly
Arapahoe or Nez Perce; or something else); certainly true of
this "Teewinot"

Flowers are so scarce in Patagonia the bees have to compete

Another small lake before getting to Lago Grey

Fox Glove, or something very like it, in the burn areas around
Lago Grey

Vicki posing by a tree downed years ago but from which a large
secondary tree has sprouted

Finally, Lago Grey; as attested to by the icebergs

In the distance, again, the Southern Patagonia Icefield; sublime

And the Grey Glacier

Our progress...bad news for tomorrow's return to Paine Grande

Day 6 on the trail selfie

Glaciar Grey; retreating

More flora...just over 1/4 inch

And more Fox Glove

And, positively the largest dandelions ever--very, very long
growing season at this latitude (50)

River coming down from Cerro Paine Grande, carving a deep

Finally, camping Grey

And our last night for a while in our trusty little REI tent, which
has seen some of the world's great mountains and treks; MAJOR
CORRECTION! Vicki informs me this is and has been a Big Sky
tent, not REI; the REI tent was savaged by the red fox at
Refugio Elizabeta Soldini on the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2005;
after using it as our emergency tent for snowmobiliing, we gave
it to a fellow camper (homeless person) in Missoula, in 2016;

Camping Grey building

Later that night, entertainment at the Refugio Grey; well, a guy
with a guitar and a guy with a drum; BTW, the pisco sours at
Camping Grey come from a pre-mixed bottle..not the best
ever, as some claim

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Day 5 On The W: Cuernos/Italiano/Beyond/Paine Grande

Day 5 was our longest on the W, from Los Cuernos to Camping Italiano and beyond up the canyon toward Frances and Britanico, and then the long trudge back down to Paine Grande, our fifth night's camping site. The good weather continued until a kilometer before Paine Grande. We pitched our tent in a light rain. Our 10+ year old REI tent has held up well and continued for the rest of the trip, in even more rain.
Farewell to the black and tan

More distant peaks, towers, horns

A black and tan and white pebble beach on the lake shore

Love those reflective scenes; my favorite though is the one
en route to Milford Sound, South Island, where Te Papa
signage actually tricks you...

From this point Cerro Paine Grande really dominates

The whole mountain, from the east; the left side, from the
south, reminded us of Teewinot, in the Tetons; see below

Fucshias? In Patagonia?!

Helpful illustration...more down, then a lot more up

Finally we reached camping Italiano, placed our packs in the
luggage storage area, and headed up the canyon further to
inspect Cerro Paine Grande, the Frances Glacier, and such;
this is the middle prong of the W


Still working on our selfie technique

Avalanche occurring right there, middle

Last look, from the bridge

Distant volcano

More flora

Torres, on the hind flank of the Cuernos

Thus; not the Torres

Planks for a new bridge; in Patagonia, even 2x6s need to be
weighed down with big rocks

Where we've been, where we're going

Wind-blown landscape

Absolutely huge bunny

But now, just as I'd remarked about how lucky we were...the
weather closed down

And we were glad to reach the camping area at Paine Grande

The refugio

"Teewinot" in the rain--the south of Cerro Paine Grande--though
Teewinot never had glaciers like this