Watching a photo presentation of Maria and Steve's trip this January-February to Patagonia filled me with wonder that such majestic, stark, wild and beautiful places do still exist. No pollution, no crowds in sight, for this is a land for the courageous travelers who still have their wits and athletic bodies intact. They stayed in huts that house 32 people with simple dorm rooms (8 in each), down covers (at best it is in the 50's in summer, often with high winds and driving rains), and a simple kitchen to prepare meals. Often travelers can enjoy unbelievable views from their windows or the decks on a good day. The valleys look like Yosemite before the tourists. The boulders as one ascends the mountains look like they come from a giant's playground, huge compared to what I was used to in the Sierras, and the trails often very primitive, narrow, requiring trekking poles and very sturdy boots. It is a land where world-class rock climbers come, with the most vertical, steep granite ascents I've ever seen, making the peaks in the Sierra look like child play. There are lovely glacial-fed lakes, but not the aspen and huge healthy forests of the Canadian Rockies. This is a land that looks like something from another planet, where basalt and granite co-mingle
to form mountains like giant pillars. Some of the peaks are in national parks, and some in privately-owned parks; the Argentinian government hasn't realized what jewels these mountains are, in need of protection from private interests.
Winters must be impassable, as summers look marginally a habitat for humans on foot; one needs Wellington boots for the deep, muddy terrain and sturdy hiking boots for any climbing. Somehow I've missed National Geographic specials on this land, but it feels more intimate to see photographs from folks I know. They still backpack in the Sierras regularly, and use the YMCA daily to be in shape for a trip like this. It was stunning, and made me think how my dad, who died suddenly, run over by a car at 55, would have been enamored with this beauty and challenge, more so than the rest of the family! Hats off to those with the conditioning, determination, resources, and courage to explore this mysterious, wild and free landscape. Back to my more mundane pursuits as I make oatmeal with apples, nuts, and sunflower seeds!