With the morning sun came a beautiful blue sky and chilling winds and a weak and mostly ineffective sun. It was outright cold. Kim and I wiped the chill from our faces which had been sticking out of the blankets all night and sprinted for the hot showers. Running only as a chilled American can across the freezing and wind swept Patagonian landscape, we scurried to showers and nearly dove in head first. Thankfully, the water was hot and it was not long before we were warmed up and ready to head back to our tent to put on warm clothes, eat breakfast and start the day.
Nicely warmed up, fed and wrapped in appropriate clothing, we started towards the Mirador Condor trail. The sun had done some work and the temperature had risen into the 40s so it was a pleasant walk to the trailhead. From the road, we could see holes in the sides of some of the mountains where the condors were nesting. The opportunity to see the Andes Condors as well as the view from 2ooo meters spurred us on to make the climb to the top.
The first part of the trail was through forested hills with tree branches blocking out most of the sun. We could hear the birds chirping above us alerting others to our arrival in their neck of the woods. As we wended our way to the top, we stopped to take a few pictures of the things that surrounded us. Brightly colored flowers adorned the rising dirt paths as we made our way higher into the mountains. Flowers and berries splashed with reds and purple dazzled our eyes while small birds flitted from one tree to the next.
I watched a small bird bringing a green worm to its family members as it nervously flitted from branch to branch, concerned about the welfare of his/her family as well as the dinner he/she had just brought home. Luckily I was able to catch a few pictures of him/her as it jumped back and forth, eyeing us nervously. We didn’t want to scare him/her too much, so we walked away letting it bring its dinner to its family assured that we were not there to interrupt their afternoon dining plans.
After about 30 minutes of walking in the forest, the path took us into the open and we found that we had already climbed fairly high from where we had started. Below us we could see the Lago Pehoe’ campground and absolutely breathtaking views of Lago Pehoe’ and the surrounding mountains. My words will do the sight no justice, you just have to see them yourself to believe it. The pictures you will see here, really don’t come close to the absolute stark beauty of the scene.
I am learning that as I travel the world, each time I think I have seen the most spectacular sight that will never be surpassed, all I have to do is travel a few more miles and open my eyes to that which surrounds me. It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that may be true. But having seen what I have so far in my journeys on a motorcycle, this beholder can only wonder how many more superlatives, how many amazing visions are left for one person to see in a lifetime. For what I have seen during our motorcycle journeys, certainly could fill the lifetime of visions for many less fortunate than me. For that, I am extremely grateful.
It was not much longer that we spotted our first black speck circling in the sky. It’s wings were outstretched as it lazily floated on the currents of air rising from the surrounding mountains. Tiny movements of its wings steered course corrections and it seemed like forever before it started to come closer to where we were. It was too far away to be sure what kind of bird it was and since it was very high, we had no background reference to tell how large the bird was.
We patiently (or perhaps not so patiently) waited for the bird to get close enough to ascertain what it was. As it got closer we could indeed make ut the fact that it was a very large bird. Black with a white ring around its neck, it seemed in no particular rush to go anywhere. Perhaps it was looking for its dinner, but it just soared and sailed on the currents rising from the mountainsides. Soon another bird came into view and then a third.
Now there was some action as the three birds started to swoop up and down and dart amongst each other. By now we could clearly see the white ring around their necks. These were indeed Andes Condors and they had decided to put on a show for us. Circling and sometimes diving, the birds put on an aerial show that was a delight. We stood and watched them for about half an hour, but it appeared that the weather was beginning to deteriorate and we decided it was best to return to our camp.
With more than a little regret, we made our way down the mountain, through the little forest and back to our campground. It was still fairly early in the afternoon, so what were we going to do for the rest of the day? Well the campground had a playground for kids and we were feeling rather like giddy adolescents, so we hit the little playground area and took turns on the see-saw. It is with deep regret that I must show you the photographic evidence of such foolishness, but I must tell you, we had fun!
After what seemed like hours in the playground which was probably more like 20 minutes, we returned to our tent for a quick nap and an late call for dinner so we could watch the sun setting on the Torres del Paine mountains. As the sun dropped lower on the horizon, the mountains came alive. Individual faces of the mountainside turned molten gold as the sun sank. The intensity of the gold increased until suddenly, the sun dipped below the horizon and the faces of the mountains turned to grey again. What an amazing show!
After dinner, we returned to our tents for another night of blanketed but cold sleep. Tomorrow we would be heading to Tierra del Fuego (the land of fire) in earnest. We’ll take you there in part 13.
By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.
Ride 2 Adventure – Shrink the Planet One Ride At A Time