Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Adios, Chile! Hola, Argentina!

The Argentine border past at Cancha Carrera. Three and a half hours more to El Calafate.

Parting Shot, Hosteria Pehoe

It's hard to beat the view from the Hosteria Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Minutes after this photo was taken, the clouds descended, the wind speed increased, whitecaps rose on the lake, surf was thrown against the lake's eastern shore, and rain pelted the landscape. A true Patagonian farewell as we began our journey back to El Calafate, Argentina.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hosteria Pehoe

Ideally situated on a small islet in Lago Pehoe, the Hosteria Pehoe offers a grandstand view of the Cuernos del Paine (right) and the Paine Grande (left).

Lago Pehoe and the Paine Massif

A relatively calm moment on Lago Pehoe. Paine Grande on the left and the Cuernos del Paine on the right. Between them, the French Valley.

Salto Grande

The powerful little waterfall known as Salto Grande plummets over a rock cliff on a short stretch of the Rio Paine between Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Pehoe.

Four little condors sitting on a rock... more arrived and then there were five. Actually we saw somewhere between 50 and 60 birds at this location. I stopped counting when I got to 37.

Guanaco and Monte Almirante Nieto

A classic south Patagonian scene; a guanaco grazes in front of Monte Almirante Nieto.

Zorro colorado

Red fox sighting, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile


Studying a guanaco skull, Torres del Paine National Park.

Torres del Paine Walking Safari

Here we are setting off on a little "walking safari" in Torres del Paine National Park.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yielding to the Winds

A wind-sculpted southern beech tree yields to the fury of Patagonia's winds on the shore of duck-less and windswept (or should I say gale-swept) Laguna de los Patos.

Old Lenga

A venerable, old lenga tree (Nothofagus pumilio) reclines in the forest along the trail to the Grey Glacier.

Icebergs from the Grey Glacier

Blue icebergs calved from the Grey Glacier cluster along the shore of a small cove at the north end of Lago Grey.

Hiking to the Grey Glacier

From the Lodge Paine Grande area at the west end of Lago Pehoe ("pehoe" is a Tehuelche word meaning "escondido"in Spanish, "hidden" in English) we followed the trail up the east shore of Lago Grey to the Grey Glacier.

Mirador Lago Nordenskjold

En route from Hosteria las Torres to the boat dock at Pudeto, we stopped to enjoy this view of the peaks of the Paine massif rising over Lago Nordenskjold. In the center are the peaks of the Cuernos del Paine ("Horns of Paine") with the dark-colored tops. Just to the right are the peaks named Hoja ("blade") and Espada ("sword").

Amanecer desde la Hosteria las Torres

Dawn paints the Patagonian sky. Seen from the Hosteria las Torres at the foot of the Almirante Nieto mountain.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cascada Rio Paine

The Cascada Rio Paine backdropped by the Paine massif. The rock spires of the Torres del Paine rise in the top center of the photograph.

Laguna Amarga and the Torres del Paine

The peaks of the Paine massif reflected in Laguna Amarga. The snow-capped peak is Almirante Nieto; the spires of the Torres del Paine can be seen to the right of Almirante Nieto. Chile lindo!

Flamingo at Laguna Amarga

A flamingo searches for food in the shallow waters of Laguna Amarga, Chilean Patagonia, just outside Torres del Paine National Park.

Chapa y Esteban

Chapa and Steve discuss the Patagonian landscape en route to Torres del Paine National Park.

We're in Chile!

Successful border crossing from Argentina into Chile at Cancha Carrera! Our first meal in Chile!

Sunrise on Monte Fitzroy

Left El Chalten at 7:15 AM bound for Chile and the Torres del Paine National Park. Just outside of El Chalten we paused to enjoy a 10 minute light show on the peaks of Fitzroy! Wow!

Friday, March 4, 2011

After a great hike, a great meal

A fitting conclusion to a great day of hiking was this dish of "ravioles de cordero," lamb-stuffed ravioli with tomatoes and cilantro served up at La Tapera Restaurante in El Chalten.


Another joy of the hike to Pliegue Tumbado is the opportunity to find fossils along the this one!

Linda & Elly at Pliegue Tumbado

Enjoying the views at Pliegue Tumbado.

The classic view from Pliegue Tumbado

Cerro Torre (top left); Monte Fitzroy (top right) and the moraine-dammed Laguna Torre (lower right). A most perfect day!

Riviera Pliegue Tumbado

An atypical, sunny, almost windless day atop the ridge of Pliegue Tumbado.

Bifida and the Needles of Fitzroy

A close-up view of some of the spires that make up the Fitzroy massif. The tall spire just to the left of center is Bifida. the "flat," snow-topped summit at the left of the image is called "Mocho," the headless one.

El Chalten, the Smoking Mountain

Clouds stream off the summit of Monte Fitzroy, here seen from the trail to Pliegue Tumbado.
Such cloud formations helped give the mountain its name, "Chalten," the "smoking mountain."

Cabure chico o austral

An austral pygmy owl watches us as we start off on the hike to the Pliegue Tumbado ridge. "Pliegue tumbado" means "recumbent fold," a description of the underlying geology of the ridge.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Monte Fitzroy Emerges

After eluding us for the entire day, the summit of Monte Fitzroy finally reveals itself while a lenticular cloud forms overhead. Seen from near Laguna Capri on the trail to El Chalten.

Lenticular Cloud over Cerro Huemul

A lenticular cloud, indicative of high winds aloft, hovers over Cerro Huemul. Seen from Laguna Capri.

Laguna de los Tres

The Laguna de los Tres. The wind was "muy fuerte" on this day and the gusts so strong that we had to crouch periodically. A true experience with the raw power of Patagonian weather and truly invigorating! A clear view of Fitzroy's summit eluded us, however.

"De la Esse" and "Saint Exupery"

Here at two of the peaks of the Fitzroy massif. On the left is the peak known as "de la Esse." On the right is the tower, or needle ("aguja" in Spanish), of "Saint Exupery" named after the French flyer and author of "The Little Prince."

Piedras Blancas Glacier

The Piedras Blancas Glacier descends from the Fitzroy massif into the valley of the Rio Blanco.

Interpreting the Landscape

David interprets the landscape above the Rio Blanco near its confluence with the Rio Electrico. We are en route to El Chalten via Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Capri.

Cerro Electrico

The peak of Cerro Electrico rises above the Rio Blanco near the Hosteria El Pilar at the start of our hike to Laguna de los Tres, Laguna Capri and El Chalten.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Autumn is coming

The golden leaves of this ├▒ire tree (Nothofagus antarctica) hint at the approach of the austral autumn.

The Bifida Tower

The impressive spire of the Cerro Torre is surrounded by an entourage of similarly shaped towers. The one in the picture above is called the Aguja Bifida, or Torre Bifida. It rises to an elevation of 2,400 meters. But it is dwarfed by the Cerro Torre which rises another 700 meters higher.

El Viento Patagonico

Confronting the fierce winds of Patagonia at the Laguna Torre, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina.

Laguna Torre

The wind was whipping across Laguna Torre and the high peaks were obscured by clouds, but it was still, without doubt, an impressive scene. The iceberg floating in the lake to the left of the picture flipped over while we were there. In the left background, glacial ice descends from the Cordon Adela. In the right background, the lower portions of the Cerro Torre, Torre Egger and Torre Standhardt can be seen.

Boardwalk Trail near Laguna Torre

A stretch of boardwalk trail traverses a wetland near the glacial moraine that impounds Laguna Torre.

In the valley of the Rio Fitzroy

David interprets the landscape as we make our way up the Rio Fitzroy toward Laguna Torre. Glacier-clad Cerro Solo rises in the background.

To Laguna Torre

It was a sunny morning in El Chalten, but clouds obscured most of the high peaks and the wind was blowing mightily. A typical Patagonian summer day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Home Sweet Home in El Chalten

Our home for the next four nights in El Chalten. We'll be hiking in the Fitzroy Sector of Los Glaciares National Park. To Laguna Torre tomorrow!