Crossing between Chile and Argentina was little more than a blink of an administrative counter. We got out to lift up a chain and let ourselves over. We had been strategically planning our diesel stops on the map. All plans to purchase and keep a spare can had run dry.
The scrub grass silence was broken when we took a 65 km shortcut down a cheese grater and laughed in disbelief that the lambs had long tails. They wagged like dogs.
Then there was the lone flamingo. Lost far from it’s comrades in Northern Chile, the wind had grounded it. It was the only colorful thing for hundreds of miles, looking out of place in the washed out landscape. I admired her for more than just her color.
We soon witnessed why Lake Argentina was that unnatural color of blue. It’s straight glacier melt. With the hype of Global Warming you’d never know that Glacier Perito Moreno was growing, is growing, way faster than it can melt.
And it’s the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world. That was what was really mind boggling, just how long it was. And so thick that it would dwarf a 20 story building.
It cracked like it was in pain.
Some say that if you only visit one glacier in your life that it should be this one.
It’s perfect for all of the Ice Wall jokes that you can think of.
El Chalten is a little mountain village that sits at the base of this rock pile. This is the front of the mountains from Torre Del Paine.
We opted for a day hike to Laguna Torre. We made a bed of rocks to rest next to the lake while a hawk dive bombed our heads. We opted to climb farther up what looked like a dragon backbone calculating every step.
“Winging it” like usual almost left us stranded like our flamingo friend when there was not a bed around on New Years Eve. We hit a stroke of luck when we pulled into Estancia La Quinta. Bulls and calves grazed in the parking lot. I high-kneed to the front door hoping I could sneak by the beasts.
Alfredo welcomed us at the front desk. He said that his place had been an active ranch for over 100 years. His family had raised sheep, then switched to cows when times got hard. He had decided to upgrade the shearing barn into a hotel, as many estancia owners in Patagonia have done to survive. He’d passed down the estancia to his children. His wife corralled the cats that had not yet been eaten by the foxes. I admired how the family had adapted to survive and wondered if the small businesses, like this one, would survive as developments and big named hotels move in to capitalize on Patagonia’s backpacking capital.
We woke to the cows mooing.
I was rooting for 100 plus more years for Alfredo’s Estancia.