Chris´ Photo Links

The internet is still slow and I am still not patient, so have not gotten many pics online. I did get a couple of Ushuaia - Literally, like 2... and you can view them here.

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Chicago Ain´t Got Nothin´ on Laguna Nordenskjold!

I am going to write another weight loss book – the premise is this - carry around a 40 pound backpack for 10 days and only eat oatmeal, tuna and packaged soup. Oh, and don´t shower. I think that helps too.

We just got finished with a 9 day hike in Parque National Torres del Paine. We competed the ¨circuit¨, which goes around several different peaks, including Paine Grande (aka Major Paine), Paine Sud, Paine Nord and Paine Central.

Some Stats:
Number of cans of tuna eaten: 13
Number of bugs eaten: 8
Number of bugs snorted: 6
Number of miles hiked: 100
Number of days without a shower: 9
Longest hike in one day: 20 miles
Longest hill: 3 hours STRAIGHT UP

A quick rundown of our trip is as follows.

Day 1: The Day We Had Cheese
This was our first day, so we were able to carry cheese for a little while and eat it on the trail along the way. Oh, cheese, how I miss you so! We hiked about 6 hours and set up camp about halfway up the mountain. The camp is nice; the bathrooms are semi clean, no TP, but that is what was expected.

Day 2: The Day That Was Easy
We purposefully made an easy day for today, as CK´s knee was bothering him and we also had decided to take the whole trail slow so as to enjoy every minute of it. We hiked up to a Mirador (lookout) which afforded us a beautiful view of the three aformetioned peaks (all but Grande). Then we took another easy hike before playing Hearts and making my favorite dinner, packaged soup.

Day 3: The Day S Got La Guardia/ The Day We Almost Got Blown Away
S woke up very sick and so after leaving him at the guard station, we kept on. Today we had scheduled 10 hours of hiking. The way they set up the camps is kind of weird. You have one camp 3 hours away and one 10 hours away. So you can either hike 3 hrs or 10. We chose 10. The hike was not too bad until we got to Lake Nordenskjold. Then the wind picked up. It was so strong it was blowing us over. Literally. I fell and scraped up my knee and CK fell over backwards into the bushes. It was brutal. It was also our last 2 hours and so we were tired already. We finally made it into camp around 730 pm and fell almost immediately to sleep. Since we are still so far south, it still stays light at least until 10, so it is a little hard to get to sleep, but with an eyeshade and some earplugs and a hard days hike, anything is possible.

Day 4: The Day I Stuck My Feet in a Glacier
We ONLY hiked 7 hours today. When we got to camp, I felt so dirty, so I went to the river and had a VERY cold bird bath. It is refreshing, as Dad would say. Invigorating as well.

Day 5: The Day We Walked Uphill Both Ways
Another 10 hour day and the last hour and a half was totally uphill. No break. Every time we thought we had gotten to the top of the hill, we were wrong, it was only more uphill again. There were a lot of bugs in camp, so we took defensive action and hid out in the tent. Unfortunately, we have to eat, so we had to brave the swarm for a little while.

Day 6: The Spa Day
Today we only hiked 3 hours. It was mostly uphill. We decided to save the rest for the next day, as it was a 6 hour hike from 250 M to 1250 M, so we knew it was going to be a difficult one. We took a spa day today, washed our socks and selves as much as we could, cooked a hot lunch (oh, bliss, top ramen) and relaxed in preparation for the hard day ahead.

Day 7: The Day Our Knees Hated Us
6 hours, 12 K, steep, steep uphill for 2.5 hrs, then steep, steep downhill for 3 hours. In some places there was no trail, only rocks. We had to blaze our own path. It was really hard on the knees! However, we got to the tallest point of the hike, Paso John Gardner, which is 1250 M, and afforded really beautiful views of Glacier Grey, which we had been hiking along side of for the past few days.

Day 8: The Day We Joined a Bug Colony
The bugs are getting really bad. I have bites everywhere. Our hike today was fairly flat, but very, very long. We hiked 30 km today and by the time we got to camp (11 hrs later) we were so tired and annoyed with bugs and ready to just relax. We ate the rest of our food – we had a Thanksgiving feast – 3 different kinds of soup! Then instead of battling mosquitos, we went to bed.

Day 9: The Day My Dogs Barked
Oh my feet. Thank goodness, they have not hurt before, but today they hurt! Luckily we only had a 4.5 hour hike to the end of the trail and let me tell you, when I saw the end, I was soooo happy. The hike has been fun, but I really can´t wait to take off my boots and stinky socks and get into a shower. My pants can stand up on their own. Actually my hair probably can too!

We are now in Puerto Natales, waiting for our flight to Puerto Montt, which is tomorrow (hopefully!) From there we will visit the island of Chiloe and then the Lake District of Chile.


No Hay Peanut Butter

When I was in France, I was trying to find Peanut Butter in the grocery store. When I asked my flatmates boyfriend to help me because he spoke English, he did not even know what I was talking about. I tried to explain the concept of ground up peanuts and the fact that we put it on bread and he thought I was crazy. Well, the same thing goes for the Argentines. They do not have peanut butter. Our plan for our hike was to eat a lot of PB and Js, but it was not meant to be. We are eating a lot of Js though...

We just got back from one two day hike and one long one day hike in the Fitz Roy Range of the Andes in the Argentina side of Patagonia. They were all quite long and grueling hikes, but totally worth it once we got to the end. The first day we hiked into a valley and ended up at a glacier fed lake (Laguna Toro). The trail was hard - the first hour and a half way all uphill, then there was some flat ground, but much of it was marshy and so then we all had wet feet. Next was a loooooong downhill, which sounds like relief, but really is harder on me than the uphill. When we got to the bottom of the downhill, it began to rain really hard and the wind picked up. We hiked the last hour in the wind driven rain (haha, sounds like I am writing a PW) and finally arrived to camp about 6 hours after we had set out. Then we have to deal with starting the stove in the wind and rain and setting up the tent....but to me the challenge is what is part of the fun. The next day we hiked back, again, it was up, then flat, then down. CK hurt his knee on the downhill section and has been gimping around for the last couple of days.

Yesterday I (without the gimp) hiked up to the Laguna de los Tres, which is a path that affords beautiful views of Cerro (Mt) Fitz Roy, which is a huge craggy peak, and the tallest (at 3500 M) around. There is still snow on the top and the moutain shines kind of a bluish grey color. It really was a sight to behold. I have photos, but somehow they just do not do it justice...

Today we bussed back to El Calafate and tomorrow we will go to the Perito Moreno glacier, which is supposed to be quite a sight. Then Grant leaves us tomorrow afternoon and the rest of us (S, CK and I) go on to Puerto Natales, which is the Chilean side of Patagonia. From there we will tackle the "W" (S) and the "Curcuit" (me and CK) trails (5 and 8 days respectively). This will be the true test of our hiking and camping skills.

We are all so happy to be back in "civilization" where we can get a hot shower and some laundry done (it has been a while, I wont say how long..it is kind of gross - let me just say, I wouldnt touch any of us with a ten foot pole) and get ourselves ready for our next big hike...

I hope to get some photos and videos online soon, but with the internet the way it is here (Calafate is a really small town) I dont see that happening for a while. The next time I will be in a largish town will probably be in a couple of weeks.

P.S. Funny...as I was talking about smelling bad, a guy sat down at the next computer...and he smells worse than I do! I didnt think it was possible! Ciao!


Bella Vista

We arrived in Ushuaia safely yesterday and set right to it. We hopped on a boat and got a tour of the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia is the ¨southernmost point¨in the world. Except for Antarctica. Oh and a few small ports which are south of here...but whatever! It is cold here. After being in Buenos Aires where it was in the high nineties and hundreds, it is strange to be back in 40 degree weather. I guess this is what I have been carrying around all those heavy winter clothes for.

Today we hiked to the top of a mountain and from the top there were the most beautiful views! I have a video, it is on the bottom of the page. Hopefully it works, I haven´t tried to upload videos before. We are all going to be tired pups tomorrow. You can also see some photos on Chris´flickr site: check here. You can also see our Buenos Aires photos at Chris site: here. I will be putting mine online soon, hopefully....

So we are at the end of the world, where it doesn´t get dark until about midnight and it gets light again in the morning around 5ish...It is crazy. I was so tired last night around 11, but it felt like it was about 6, so I felt like I should be wide awake. Then the sun streaming in the window made me think it was about noon, but it was only 6 a.m. It is hard to go to bed when it is light!

Tomorrow we will do some more hiking and then we will hop on a bus for El Calafate, which is the gateway to the Puerto Morena glacier and the Fitz Roy Moutains, which is the Argentine part of Patagonia.

PS I tried to upload the video but the internet is just tooooo slooowww!!! I will have to do it some other time. Until then, ciao!


Ciao for now...

Today was our last day in the big city....Bye, bye Buenos Aires and hello Ushuaia. We had a great time in the city....Renting that apartment for a week was a great idea, becuase it gave us a chance to really explore the city without feeling rushed and to see parts of the city we never would have. A couple interesting things happened today, on our last day.

Number one: the family of the landlord came to inspect the apartment and they were not happy about the door. But, instead of just coming to an agreement, they had to fuss and moan for a while before we could get out of there...It was really a long and drawn out ordeal that could have been taken care of in a much more efficient manner. The only good thing was that they arrived at our meeting on time, which is a lot more than we can say about when they came to meet with us in the first place (they were 2 hours late).

Number two: I ate a piece of blood sausage. And I am alive to tell the tale. I was not planning on eating it. I have not eated red meat in...oh about 15 years or so... But S was being a wimp and he wouldnt try it, so I told him that I would try it if he would. I did not think he would go for it, in fact he said no at first. Until everyone else egged him on, telling him that if a vegetarian can eat it, he better be able to... So he ate a small piece and I ate a small piece... It wasnt that great, and I dont think I ever need to have it again. But my mom always told me to try everything at least once.

That is it. Now we say good bye to Buenos Aires and we head to the End of the World, Ushuaia, for some hiking, beautiful sights and general enjoyment...



So I guess there is a reason after all that we have cell phones. I sometimes wonder why. But today when I was waiting - by the way, I HATE waiting - for the boys, I realized, cell phones really have done at least one thing for us. They have allowed us to spend our time more economically.

The situation was this. I needed to get money from AMEX; Grant needed a sleeping bag. I was going to ¨pop in and out¨of the AMEX office... That didn´t happen. I ended up spending about an hour in the office and Grant ended up spending about 2 hours getting a sleeping bag. However, I couldnt get out of line to tell them that I was going to take longer than expected and they didnt know why I was taking so long. So we both ended up waiting longer than expected for each other.

So being here has made us all learn how to plan. Well, I use that phrase lightly...Plan. We have tried to plan, but sometimes it doesn´t work. But it has been interesting...Remember when we didn´t have cell phones (gasp). What did we do!?

I kind of like it. People can get ahold of me, they just have to wait. And the same goes for me...So we learn patience and planning. Maybe. Well we are trying to!


Break Me Off a Piece

Happy New Year everyone! Well, 2008 has already been quite an exciting year here in the big city. Let´s see...First we will start with New Years. The clock struck 12, we had a toast, danced the congo, watched the fireworks and then split into two groups - the early crew and the late crew. You know me, grandma, went with the early crew. We got to our apartment and when we tried to open the door, we couldnt. There are two locks, one on top and one on the bottom, but when the lady gave us the keys she said that we would only need to use the one on the bottom. So, we could turn the key in the bottom and we could hear the lock disengaging, but from what we could tell, the top lock was still locked. We thought that probably Kaylen, who had the other set of keys had maybe locked the top one for some reason. Well, we knew that the late crew was going to be gone for a while, so we went up to the roof to hang out for a while.

When the late crew finally did come home, they tried to open the door and had no luck either. So, we were tired and a bit cranky, so we broke into the apartment. Good times. Luckily we were able to do so. I guess. Hopefully it is not that easy for burglers.

So the next day we decided to go to a cemetary quite like the ones in New Orleans with the above ground graves...after that we wanted to take a new train home, one we had not tried before. However, when we got to the station, there was a barbed wire fence between us and the station we wanted to be at. So, KE and S decided to cross over a train bridge to try and climb down the other side. They got about half way across before a train came. These trains don´t move as slow as cargo trains either. Kaylen made it to the end of the bridge, but S had to climb to the side and crouch down in between two support beams. He made it. He is still alive, but I think he is going to have grey hair soon.

So. Yesterday and today were uneventful. We just explored the city a little more, went to the beach, went to the park... Tomorrow our plan is to go to the Casa Rosa, which means pink house. It is apparently a lot like our White House. And that´s all for now... Let the good times roll!