Chile Nov. 2004
This truly was an adventure. Our group climbed from Seron over to the Ascencio Valley via a pass that had only ever been visited by the old sheep hearders. We hiked between the granite giants of Las Torres and Los Cuernos. Rode horses across the pampas from Pehoe to Serrano. We finished the trip paddling our kayaks down the Serrano and Tyndall Rivers to the Ocean.
On November 8, 2004 Artie Ells, Jane Walker, Derrill & Pearl Murphy, Goldie & Gayle Weeks and Annemarie Amelunxen started on a 14day adventure in Southern Chile. Roger Amelunxen joined us on Day 5.
The trip kind of went like this.
Day 1: We were picked up in the town of Puerto Natales by the local bus. It stopped first at hotel were everyone was staying and two minutes later stopped in front of the house where Keith, the porters and myself stayed.
Before we loaded the bus the guy jumped out and asked if we could give him a hand. The back inside tire was flat. On the ride to the park we drove through fields of land mines and saw ostriches and condors
The day got better after that and everything went quite straight forward. We hiked to Seron in 5 hours and spend a nice afternoon drinking 15 litres of wine between the 11 of us.
Day2: People were hurting from the wine. We followed the trail for about 20 minutes and started up into the forest. During the 8 hours of climbed we encountered heavy bushwhacking and not quite so heavy bushwhacking. We climbed about 700m through heavy forest and stopped just above the tree line in a beautiful little meadow with a view or where we were going.
At one point Chapa, our local guide watched 3 pumas following our scent. They were only a short ways behind the back end of the party.
Day3: This was our earliest day. We woke up at 5:30 and watched the sun rise over the Argentine flatlands. We were hiking before 8am.
The whole day was walking through a moonscape. Above the vegetation line there were was absolutely nothing around us. What made it wild was that nobody had been there. At least in some of the areas.
The descent was awesome as well. We sat looking into the valley of silence for a half hour so that everyone would get even more wigged out looking at where we had to go. When we finally started down Keith went first and I had Pearl, Mom and Jane on a rope.
Chapa carried some of the ladies across the final river into Japanese camp.
Day4: An easy walk down to the Chileno hut. Along the way we stopped and part of the group walked up to the impressive Las Torres lookout. It was nice to have a shower and it was weird to see other people.
Day5: It rained. We picked up Rog at the Hosteria Las Torres where we started the trip 5 days earlier. Our re-supply of food and supplies was sent with a zodiac to our end destination of the day.
We listened to Chapa play guitar over a vegetarian lasagne dinner in Los Cuernos hut.
Day6: Jane needed the rest and Art’s feet were hamburger so they stayed for the two days at Los Cuernos while the rest of the group went up to the Bader Valley.
It was a beautiful hike up there and we arrived 3 hours after leaving the hut. The three ladies stayed around as if to cook dinner while the porters and the guys went for a hike around the front side of the Los Cuernos Mountains. We had the most incredible view highlighted with condors flying less than ten meters from us.
Day7: Overcast and miserable out we started up the Bader Valley. Our goal was to get to the pass between Principal and East Cuerno. After four hours of hiking through giant boulders, polished granite slabs and snow we gave up just below the pass. It was snowing heavily and we hadn’t seen any of the mountains around us all day.
Day8: We came down from Bader quite early and met Jane and Art at the Cuernos. They were excited to get moving again and we continued over to Italian camp. The goal was to go higher but the trip was starting to wear on everyone physically. Art paid Derrill $20 can for his 2nd last smoke (without knowing Derrill had 2 packs coming in the next day.
Day9: We woke up to the most incredible day. Around 11am we all started up the valley. We walked 3 hours up to the most beautiful alpine meadows. It was so nice out almost everyone had a nap. The river crossings were quite tedious getting there and cheers to Gayle for going for it.
Day10: An easy walk to Vertice, an enormous hostel. We spent the night drinking and playing on the slack line.
Day11: Everyone’s nerves were getting to them as we watched the horses come down over the hill. The whole gang left on horse back around 10:00am. It was impressive watching them climb; the horses were jumping up rock steps.
A video at park headquarters to kill time as the Kayaks were being moved around. Finally we all walked out to our camp ground. After setting up the tents and starting a fire, the wind started. Chapa roasted a full lamb for us. We also had potatoes and sausages. It was our first touch of Patagonian wind on the trip.
Day12: The wind had stopped and it was a beautiful day. Nervous again everyone
packed the dry bags and put on their jackets and skirts. We were show how to
get in and out and pushed into the water. In the water we were shown how to
steer and some other odds and ends of paddling. Everyone quickly got it.
Two hours after we started down we had a portage around some falls. It was good to stretch. After another hour of paddling we started up the Tyndall River and quickly found that it was too much for us. We spent the next 2 hours jumping in and out of the boats battling the current by paddling or pulling.
Camp was in a beautiful sparse forest with a little sheltered bay. Everyone slept before 9pm (an hour and a half before dark).
Day13: The winds came up that night and just hammered camp. In the morning we had to change plans because there was no way we were going to paddle into the 60k + winds. We walked an hour through he forest to check out Tyndall Lake and glacier from the shore. The winds died on the walk.
The afternoon was spent paddling down the Serrano to the ocean. There was some concern coming out into the ocean a meter plus swell. That night we spent in a giant army like hostel tent.
Day14: At 10 we were picked up by zodiac and taken across the bay where we checked out the Serrano glacier and loaded the kayaks onto the yacht/ferry type boat. A four hour ride to Natales took us past some of the most amazing glaciers. We were served Pisco with glacier ice on board.
A huge dinner in Natales with a slide show of the trip left everyone quite loaded and ready to head home.