Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ice Ice Baby

As the weather gets warmer and the folks back in Portland recover from one of the coldest, wettest, grayest winters in recent memory (or so we hear), it's going the opposite direction down here in the southern hemisphere. We went from moderately warm and sunny days in Puerto Madryn to rain, snow, wind and freezing temperatures in El Calafate, El Chaltan, El Bolson and now Bariloche.

However, we're almost done with our Patagonian circuit; we'll be taking an overnight bus up to Mendoza (wine country) within a day or two.

So what have we been up to?

Hiking, biking, riding buses and living in dorm rooms, almost exclusively.

We left off in El Calafate, where we were stuck without enough cash to book a bus ride to the Perito Moreno glacier. Finally on Monday, the bank refilled the ATM and I attacked it with a vengeance (4 max withdrawls). We left the next morning for the glacier. Sunrise at the bus station.

And here's the glacier, the main reason to visit El Calafate.

These aren't photoshopped; the ice really has this intense blueness to it, apparently from the minerals frozen inside.

We decided against hiking on the glacier, mostly because it was really expensive and would have blown our budget for 3 or 4 days in one shot. It was a lot cheaper to take the public bus to the park and view it from the balcony.

I'm just going to go ahead and keep posting pictures of the glacier, because it was downright stunning. My expectations were somewhat low because it was snowing heavily on the way in and I thought the visibility might be bad. Fortunately it cleared up for about an hour right during our prime viewing time.

On a clearer day, there are also mountains visible on the horizon. Oh well.

Although it is incredibly massive in real life, the glacier is not one of the largest in the area.

It is, however, one of the most active. This sucker moves and huge chunks fall off all the time. See that splash? Every time a piece falls off, even a small one, it sounds like someone just fired a cannon. Amazing.

Ok, see the ring of ice going out into the water in the background? A huge chunk broke off while we were watching and created this giant wave, which quickly slowed down and sort of "froze," in a way. It was really bizarre.

It started snowing again just before we left.

Last two.

When you could peel your eyes off the glacier, the surrounding area was pretty scenic in its own right.

On to non-glacier topics. Back in town, we decided to give pizza another chance. This was the best one I've had in Argentina (also the first time I've found pepperoni as a topping here), but still poor compared to our favorites in America. Too much cheese, too little sauce. The crust was very good.

From El Calafate we grabbed a late bus to El Chaltan. It was a bumpy ride... the road was mostly unpaved... but we did stop at a rest stop that had a llama chilling inside.

El Chaltan. One of the most amazing settings for a town I've ever seen. It reminded me a little of Yosemite... the place is just ringed with amazing cliffs and mountains. The entire town is under construction; in 5 or 10 years it will probably be like Whistler or Vail or something, but for now it's pretty small-time.

Looking back toward the town at the start of a 22km hike.

And here's our destination: Laguna Torres. On a clear day the view here is sick... there are awesome spires (torres=towers) visible on the horizon... but unfortunately it started snowing and raining about 20 minutes into our hike.

It was a bit cold up there.

Mr. Burny Tree sez: "Only YOU can prevent forest fires... by not throwing lit cigarettes into my crotch!"

We missed winter this year, so we're making the most of our 3-week version.

We woke up the next day and it was clear. Unfortunately my hamstring also exploded, so Liz was the only official Viva Robusto representative on this hike.

I really missed out.

We've done 3 hikes together in the past week; two were supposed to be spectacular, but it was cloudy. We had good weather for the third, but the scenery was nothing like this. Man!

I believe this set of peaks is called Fitz Roy.

Liz met a Danish girl on the hike (who took this picture).

Just looking at these photos is putting me on life tilt. I see what you people are talking about when you say you can't read our blog at work.


You can actually drink the water straight from the streams up there!

At least I got to participate in the ordering of dulce de leche waffles afterward.

Gotta run now. We have more photos but not enough time to post or write more just yet. You'll hear from us next in Mendoza.

1 comment:

carolyn said...

Thank you for all the amazing images. I have been collecting images off the web since 2006.Out of the thousands of images I have seen I must say yours are amongst the very best I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I almost felt I was along for the adventure. I am some what of a shut in. I collect images so I can see what is actually out there in this magnificent world. I can see places I would never have the opportunity to experience otherwise.Thank you for your willingness to share.I never was big on Mexican food but suddenly I find myself hankering for Salsa and Guacamole.LOL