I might need to go back…
To add a bit to the previous entry, here are a couple of my favorites from what’s been scanned in. I’m still scanning, but in the mean time Matt has many of his amazing trip photos online already.
I can’t seem to grasp the concept that it’s not summer up here, and I’m still expecting that everyone will be speaking Spanish, but otherwise it hasn’t been too much of a shock to the system coming home. Photos are getting scanned in slowly, but please be patient as there are thirty-one rolls, including a couple from other trips. I’ve only gotten through four rolls thus far, but as they get scanned in the Antarctica photos will be showing up in the Antarctica & Patagonia gallery in the Photography section of the site.
The voodoo magic that lies behind airline ticketing baffles me. Apparently there was a secret handshake or a super-spy decoder ring required to actually get a ticket for the direct flight that Aerolinas Argentinas had tried to re-book me on, so now after visiting four different ticket counters I’m back to a three-connection slog across America. Luckily even with the delays the journey home will still take less than three days (barely).
I’m not sure what just happened, but after talking to the new guy who showed up at the Aerolinas Argentinas desk I’m suddenly reserved on a direct flight from Miami to San Francisco (as opposed to the Miami – Tampa – Dallas – San Francisco ordeal I was on previously) and will be arriving an hour sooner than I would have if the flight from Buenos Aires wasn’t delayed. Even more remarkable is that when I went up to the desk I was simply trying to find out if the plane was still scheduled to depart Buenos Aires at 4:30.
Another photo from Joyce that she took at Cierva Cove while we were watching a humpback whale sleeping on the surface. I would be the one wearing the very sexy llama wool hat (with earflaps) second from the right. Ramrod is sitting in the bow of zodiac and Mighty Matt Mueller is behind me wearing the blue coat and grey hat. Note that this was not the whale into whose blowhole Matt’s mother spewed forth — that event came three days later.
When I purchased my ticket from Buenos Aires to Miami it said the flight would leave at 11:30 PM. When I got my boarding pass today it said 1:45 AM. The lady at the gate is now saying the flight has been delayed until at least 4:30 AM. While at one point I had a four hour layover in Miami, it now looks like I’ll be an hour too late to make my connecting flight. The two day slog may become a three day event.
The long slog home (five connections over two days) has started. A number of folks from the most recent M/V Polar Star voyage are on this flight, and unfortunately it seems that there was a mishap on their trip while visiting South Georgia and the boat was run aground, causing a small tear in the hull and forcing them to return to Ushuaia. Arnie was not the captain for that trip, and the boat should return to service for its next scheduled trip, but it’s nevertheless sad to see her damaged.
The last day of the trip was spent with perfect weather hiking in the national park, although an amazing allergy attack made the trip more interesting than it otherwise might have been — after walking through a field of some kind of grass my right eye practically swelled shut and I was having a heck of a time breathing, although luckily that subsided after a couple of hours.
Upon returning to town I discovered that the M/V Polar Star had returned to port. It was good to see her again before leaving — she was a great home for the twenty-three days that I was aboard.
I completely misjudged the weather this morning when I woke up at 7:00, and thinking it was going to rain all day I slept in, waking up again much later to discover the best weather I’ve yet had in Ushuaia. No doubt tomorrow I’ll rush out of bed before 7:00, be off to the park, and then spend the day hiking in a torrential downpour.
Ran into the gal from San Francisco in the afternoon, so we did a bit of hiking together around the park and then headed to dinner where we bumped into a Brazilian guy from the hostel — the backpacker circuit is indeed a small world. On the return to town the Spanish language took a beating as the bus driver and I attempted a conversation, and there is little doubt that we each came away thinking we had been discussing completely different subjects. Once back in town I discovered that my web server is yet again having communications issues, and at this point I’m no longer willing to try to debug it from eight thousand miles away, so my apologies, but the site will probably be unavailable until I get home next week.
After an evening spent at a really cool bar with a gal from San Francisco and a great group of Australians I was somehow still able to get out of bed this morning at 7:00 and catch a bus out to the national park. The weather was perfect for a stroll along the shores of Lago Roca, and due to the early arrival I got the trail all to myself. This entry is being written at the end of the trail near the Chilean border (which is carefully guarded by a “No Trespassing” sign) while perched on some driftwood and with a view that includes the lake and Andes stretching off for miles. While hiking out here a group of three magellanic woodpeckers was investigating the trees about ten feet from the trail, an event that would have sent the bird watchers from the Antarctica trip into an absolute frenzy — this woodpecker is the park’s “must-see” bird due to its large size and crazy red crest, but when we came here in December we saw only one from quite far away. If only I was a birder…
Kaiyote, me, Chris, Margi, Marlene and Rod at one of our Antarctic barbecues. Photo courtesy of Joyce, and yes, I’m toasting with a half-eaten rib. Note that neither Kaiyote nor I realized we would be eating in a snowstorm, and shortly after this photo was taken there was a mad dash to get several more layers of clothing.
Decided not to go to the National Park today (I’ve still got a few more days left) so I’ve been hanging out and trying to get the site back in order. The internet connection from Ushuaia isn’t the fastest thing I’ve ever seen, so please bear with me as I try to convert the site over to the new domain name. The new URL for the journal will be http://www.mountaininterval.org/journal.html, although the old URL should still work for a while (please let me know if anything seems broken). For anyone wondering, Mountain Interval was the name of Robert Frost’s book of poetry that included “The Road Less Traveled”.
I’m most likely going to be in Ushuaia for the remainder of this trip, so provided the server again agrees to speak to the internet I should be a bit better about uploading the journal entries and answering email. Nothing too exciting to report for today, it was mostly just a travel day. Tonight will be the first time in ten days that I’ve eaten a decent meal — no idea how much weight I’ve lost, but I’m very much looking forward to gaining some of it back shortly.
There was a small part of me that was hoping for rain this morning so that I could stay in bed and rest, but luckily the weather is again perfect and I’m enjoying a clear view of Mt. Fitz Roy from the shore of Laguna Capri. The body is complaining, but I’m slowly moving along nonetheless. From here it’s a relatively easy eight mile loop past Cerro Torre and back to town, although once I return to town it will unfortunately be time to leave this amazing place.
Days are better when there’s time to watch the sun rise and to see the sun set. Having Mt. Fitz Roy and a herd of guanacos silhouetted in the light doesn’t hurt, either.
It rained in El Chalten for the five days prior to my arrival, but for the past four days the weather has been perfect — I fear that I may be burning up what good karma remains to me in this lifetime. Slept in until 7:45 this morning and then set off on a trail with unbelievably beautiful panoramas of Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, and each of the surrounding mountains, lakes and glaciers. In addition to being scenic the trail was also a quiet one, and I saw less than ten other people all day.
While the body is close to meltdown, it hasn’t yet given up on me despite the long hike and 3200 feet of elevation change. It is even more unbelievable that the body and I are still on speaking terms when you consider that I missed a fork in the trail and had to retrace a mile uphill, and also took the scenic route for a half hour on the return trip before again finding the main trail. Tomorrow night I return to El Calafate, and hopefully the corresponding day or two of downtime will provide an opportunity to recover from the recent burst of activity.
Another 4:30 wakeup, and with stars blazing I hurried off to the Fitz Roy overlook, covering the route in just over an hour instead of the normal hour and a half. I arrived drenched in sweat but in time to see the first hints of purple light on the glaciers. After filling another roll of film I moved down the trail to Cerro Torre, spent most of the afternoon braving insane wind gusts at Lago Torre, and finally returned home to a much-needed dinner.
Despite hiking nearly five miles further than yesterday my body seems to no longer be angry with me — I’m sore, but presently in no danger of collapse. If the weather holds I’m going to attempt one of the tougher trails tomorrow, so the battle of willpower versus manpower may yet come.