I can’t believe another 2 weeks of our lives whipped by already. As we’re headed off backpacking I guess I don’t have time to write much so its an easy read!
It took a few days to come off of the Antarctica high we had. It really was a wonderful trip and so different from other places we’ve seen. We were anxious to get hiking again so Jon & I did the Laguna Submarino trail just outside Ushuaia to some incredibly beautiful scenery with an emerald lake and a lot of open space. We had that hike practically to ourselves and it was lovely.
The we moved a bit further out to a long, rural dirt road called Ruta J. It leads past the village of Puerto Almanza, known for seafood. We spent NYE there in a cute flower draped campspot with horses to finish out the view. Funny, horses down here don’t do carrots or apples. We walked to town for NYE lunch and had seafood chowder and a fish plate. It felt good to eat fresh fish after so long without because this end of the world is all about MEAT. Thanks Mom & Dad for the gift money for our big lunch! Although the exchange rate is rapidly changing with Argentina’s new president, the biggest bill still is not much more than $1 so we still have to carry big wads of cash around. Then we cooked NYE dinner with Ivan in our truck and rang in the new year. Hopefully this will be a good one.
After a bike ride, we moved to a waterfall hike further down the road. It goes out to the furthest eastern point you can drive to in Argentina. There’s nothing but a small naval station at the end of the road at Point Mitre and a coastal path with horses. Along the way, I noticed a king penguin standing on the beach. We stopped to take photos and it didn’t mind at all that we were there. Then the next day, we spotted 3 more! This time we really hung out with them and were amazed that they came walking up to us more than once! They are very curious creatures. Funny.
We biked on this road too because it was so quiet and pretty. Ivan found a great campspot by the Beagle channel where we could watch all the ships heading to Antarctica. We sat out in the sun and had a beer marveling at how seldom we’ve gotten to do that. After a few days, it was still hard to leave this road.
We stayed around the northern Ushuaia mountains for a couple more days doing hikes but the weather was holding us back. It was very wearing having wind and relatively cold weather much of the time. We could get down to short sleeves for a few minutes and then a cloud would come over, it might rain a little, the wind picks up and it’s freezing, then the sun comes out. Repeat. We did finally get a good enough window to head up the 5 Brother’s trail to more moving scenery.
We changed the oil in the transfer case to see how things were looking in there and all was well. Phew. That means that the work we had done right before Christmas is still working.
We drove down a dirt road on the Atlantic coast of Tierra del Fuego to Cabo San Pablo and the wreck of the Desdemona. It was a German cargo ship carrying cement that wrecked along the coast. The scenery was what most interested me and it is a common overlander route. It was interesting to walk around it at low tide and we met some cool overlanders in the parking lot but it didn’t hold our attention for more than a day.
Then it was time to start heading north and off of Tierra del Fuego island because we had a deadline to meet for a backpacking trip at Torres Del Paine national park. We crossed with the ferry on a very windy day and it was pretty interesting driving off the heaving ferry with waves washing around the tires. We were suited best for the odd angles with our truck but others weren’t so fortunate and they scraped pretty badly.
We stopped back in Punta Arenas for a couple nights to meet up with friends Nikki & Ed. We met in Alaska at a little park island that Jon & I rented a cabin in for a night. We’d stayed in touch and then, as things often go, we got to meet up at the opposite pole! Fun. We quick changed the transmission oil before leaving the city so we could return the old oil. It looked pretty good although there was one metal shaving in it. Our transmission has never been perfect in the truck and we feel it will need work but it’s hard to tear it apart when it isn’t broken so we’ll keep an eye on it.
Then it was off to Torres del Paine. The flat guanaco covered windblown scenery finally gave way to striking mountains again and we knew that the weather would be good to tackle the Torres the next morning. You can camp right at the trailhead in the park and it’s a great spot. If you get going really early, you beat the crowds that will be hiking the trail the rest of the day. The towers are so dramatic and are a bit of a milestone for us as we’ve anticipated seeing them for such a long time. You can do a week long backpacking circuit around the Paine Massif in the park. I had to get our reservations back in August but now, the time has come to use them. Well this is a good chance to walk off whatever is left from the cruise ship food fest. Given all that we have to carry, it will certainly be a slimming diet!