Saturday, January 9, 2016

Day Seven: New Year's Eve and the Gods granted us safe passage over the pass...

It was fourteen miles and nine hours later, when we stumbled into the Grey Refugio. We were both knackered. Do we know how to ring in the New Year or what?

Our day began with my 5 am wake up call. I begged a fellow camper with a stove for a boil of water for my personal stash of Starbucks instant coffee shots. (Adrenaline and caffeine were my fuel for the week. Sleep avoided me as if I were a leper). I chugged the Java from my spare Nalgene bottle while wandering over to a clearing. I saw a welcome sight. No clouds on the pass, just mist on the nearby peaks. So far, so good. 

After a bountiful breakfast of two Cliff Bars (there is no meal service at this out of the way camp) we left Perros by 6. It didn't take long before the uphill and the bogs began. It was an obstacle course of muck, slick logs and tree roots with evil intentions. We started making real progress once we got above tree line. In fact, the ascent was reminiscent of Colorado's wilderness trails. The only thing newish about it were the adjacent glaciers diving down around us. After three hours of effort, we spotted the summit's welcome wagon - a good sized cairn adorned with Tibetan prayer flags. Photos were taken, high fives were given and the smiles came out before we headed downhill. 

And then the really hard hiking began for another six hours. There were steep slick drops, swaying bridges across deep canyons, a ladder and many ascents that brought us back to the identical altitude of Perros Camp. 
Huh? How can that be?  We thought the day's destination was a lake!  Apparently water still flows downhill in Patagonia although the trails don't. 

Ahh! But the views of Glacier Grey were beyond belief. It was the Shaquille O'Neil of glaciers. 
(Think 67,000 football fields minus the cheerleaders and steroid enhanced players). In comparison the others looked like mere ice cubes. Later on we saw icebergs calving from the glacier's tongue. They floated away placidly on the olive colored waters of Lagos Grey. I've never seen anything like that before. Then again, being a certified Cold Weenie I usually try to avoid frozen water in any shape, size or form. 

Unfortunately, the eye squinting glare caused my camera's automatic settings to have seizures. The photos don't capture the moment in real time and place. I guess you will have to come this way and see for yourselves. 

After a huge meal and a few beers with fellow hikers, I passed out three hours shy of 2016. It's hard to be a party animal in Patagonia. 
May you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016 and beyond. You too Jenny. 

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