Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Torres del Paine - Chile

At this point I was traveling with four Canadian guys that I met in Ushuaia, Argentina (see blog) and we decided the next stop was Torres del Paine, Chile. Nothing prepares you for the spectacular beauty of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. It's known for its challenging treks and 15 peaks over 2000 meters (6,500 ft). The park has four main glaciers that feed vividly colored turquoise lakes filled with wind sculpted icebergs and set in granite canyons. At the center of the park there's a set of pink granite towers. We packed tents, food, and cooking stuff, etc over 110km (70 miles) for 5 days through all kinds of weather including a few snow storms.

This was one of many places on the trip where I found myself standing somewhere so big that it surrounded me and I try to gather it all in through pics to show friends and family. Every direction you see views of dramatic peaks, ice fields, and lakes that change with every step.

The last night of the trip we camped in a refugio at the bottom of Glacier Grey, the largest glacier in the park, and hung out in the lodge with other campers. We got to know this young couple (Leo and Esther) from the Netherlands who had met a few years ago while traveling. This was their last trip before going home to get married. We went to bed around 2am. Around 4am we woke up to a loud crack followed by a girl screaming. A huge branch, that could've been a tree by itself, had fallen on top of the Leo and Esther's tent right next to ours. We lifted the branch and my buddy Andrew crawled inside to help. Somehow the branch had missed Esther but hit Leo in the head, knocking him unconscious. So Andrew gave him mouth to mouth, we pulled him carefully from the tent, transported him on a door to the nearby lodge, and called for assistance. The last we heard he was in a deep coma but stable. The reason for this story is not sensationalism but because it was near the end of my trip in South America and I walked away with a sense of closure. Nature is truly amazing and bigger than all of us. We're not in control of whether we live or die. I try to live each day like it's my last and if I wake up tomorrow morning it's a gift.

After TDP we headed off to El Calafate to see one of the only few advancing glaciers in the world (see blog).

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