Thursday, February 9, 2012

Walking In The Land Of Paine

Bruce Chatwin traveled to Patagonia in 1974 where he spent six months wandering and writing of his experiences. His writings were published in 1977 in his book, In Patagonia. The book received high acclaim from the literary world for "redefining the genre of travel writing" and heavy criticism from the people of Patagonia  for "fictionalized characters and conversations". Upon landing in Puerto Natales, we were literally walking in the footsteps of In Patagonia. Many pages within the book are dedicated to Chatwin's fascination with the Mylodon that once roamed the region. Within one hour of stepping foot on land we found ourselves face to face with a Mylodon. Luckily it was friendly and agreed to pose for a picture.

Friendly Mylodon

After two nights of dodging Mylodons in Puerto Natales we headed to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Bruce Chatwin sums up our experience in the park with this truthful quote from In Patagonia, "There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass". Torres del Paine (Towers of Pain) is not for the faint hearted. In fact, I strongly suggest they rename the park to "Tierra de Paine" or Land of Pain. The wind blows sooooo hard at times you have to grab hold of a tree not to get swept away (70 MPH +). More than once we were awaken by our tent poles buckling in the wind and the tent threatening to dislodge itself from land with us in it. The thorns are long, sharp, and everywhere. Even the bushes that appear soft and pillow-like are covered in daggers. The grass is bone dry. One slip while cooking at camp could result in a catastrophe similar to earlier this year when a large portion of the park was burned due to human error. Moving forward, once you settle into the rigors of life in Southern Patagonia, you are rewarded with some of the most beautiful sights in all the world. 

Torres del Paine

Post 80 MPH gust

Lago Paine

Mags fronted by Dickson Glacier

We spent five days and four nights trekking and camping within Torres del Paine's geological spectacles.  Granite spires thrust upwards towards the sky with an aggressiveness that strains the neck. Bright blue glaciers spill over mountain faces into vividly colored lakes. Glacial blue rivers run rapidly daring one to step foot into their near freezing waters. Mountain peaks expose themselves sporadically in-between  heavy snows. Waterfalls gush from above. Rainbows fill the sky while the sun shines to your left and rain pelts you from the right. The fauna is equally amazing. We witnessed a pair of Magellanic Horned Owls in early morning solitude, dozens of Guanacos grazing freely, Pink Chilean Flamingos in glacial lakes filled with graceful Black Necked Swans, and more Birds of Prey hovering above us than we could count. 

Sunny break in-between hail storms

Lago Dickson stands before Dickson Glacier

Moment of solitude amongst the crowds

All in all it was exhilarating. There is nothing like waking up and looking out of the tent onto the overwhelming Torres del Paine. We have vowed to visit again and have a list of folks that we'd like to bring along. Who's in? 

4 comments:

  1. ME!!!!!!!!!! Great blog, so vivid. You guys are amazing.

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  2. Ummm yes please!! I'm thinking logs will love it too!! Xox

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  3. Please add me to the list!!! I'd love to travel with my poets (that's YOU and YOU!) xo

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  4. WOW! Those photos are amazing!!

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