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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

In Patagonia Day 18

March 8th, 2018

In Patagonia Day 18
Poincenot Campground—D’Agostini Campground

Woke to a cloudy windy morning but the rain had stopped. Took my time leaving as the wind soon dried my wet hiking clothes (which meant I still have dry clothes in my bag—always a good idea). Today I walked the trail that connects the Fitzroy loop with the Torres loop. This is not a common route, so I had it to myself, hiking beside two long lakes, and then winding through a magnificent grove of Lenga trees before finally descending into another river valley, fed by the Torres cluster of glaciers. The path went up that river which was nearly out of its banks. For some reason it is the Fitzroy River even though it has no connection to the peak. The Beagle’s (and Darwin’s) captain sure got around. Arrived at the campsite around lunchtime again, so followed the same drill—set up tent (glad I did as the camp became very crowded later in the day), ate some lunch, packed gear in daypack and headed up to Laguna Torre. What a difference a day makes. An easy walk half a click from the campground, the skies clear, windy but tolerable. The path led to the base of a round lake surrounded by three peaks. The sun baked down on the rocks so I was soon reclining and basking. Earlier in the day I had to cross a flooded stream, so took off my soaked shoes and let the wind and sun have at it. A parade of day hikers continued to pass, and I got to see them right when they crested the ridge and the scene opened up to them. They always said “beautiful” but in their own (many) languages. I think the greatest pleasure was in being able to linger at the mirador. I’ve arrived at so many places where the view is breathtaking, but so is the wind limiting the chance to take it all in.

Back on day 4 of this trip, I described how I like to go into a cathedral and, rather than wander, just sit in a pew waiting to see where my eyes take me. Today’s mirador was like a church, and that pile of rocks was my pew. Directly in front was the lake, almost perfectly round. I could see across the lower part of the glacier where the meltwater flowed in, and off to my left, the roar of the Fitzroy river leaving. But in the middle, opaque milky brownish water with the wind whipping up big waves, driving them toward where I sat. In the apse on my left, there were at the top the now familiar sharp granite crags, the pure upthrust of molten rock, but part way down was a band of lighter, almost yellow stone (the rounded fragments of which mix with the granite stones that make up the round-rock and sand landscape of my end of the lake). Down the middle of that mountain trails a wild swirl of a waterfall. To my right is another peak of similar height but much different appearance. It has its share of granite crags, but just beneath them are layer upon layer of slightly tilted strata. This entire mountain was uplifted with those layers nearly intact. Perhaps because of that, huge piles of rocky scree slope down to the water’s edge, as if this mountain is in a hurry to slide down to the lake below. Like all my views of Mt. Fitzroy, Torres was also encased in clouds, only offering shadowy glimpses of the true heights. Its base was crowded with glaciers of very shade of blue and every shade of white.

T. Hugh Crawford