Friday, February 9, 2018

Patagonia 2017: Return to Refugio Paine Grande - Día Doce

Patagonia 2017:  Bird Day: Return to Refugio Paine Grande - Día Doce – 2/19/17 – 13 km

So our “W” hike is officially completed. Now what’s the best way back civilization?
In our planning we weighed options: hike from Refugio Grey back to Refugo Paine Grande, spend a final night, and take the morning half-hour ferry on Lake Pehoe to a bus pickup OR take a 3-hour ferry from Refugio Grey on Lago Grey to a bus pickup.  Because of our travel plans beyond Patagonia, we chose the first option.  So…hiking back to Paine Grande via the same route, you see the world from a different direction, different lighting, all things made new.

The resident caracaras made an appearance during breakfast

Back on the trail

Oh, yeah, I forgot about the foxgloves!  Excitement all over again!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t see this one yesterday

Every morning of our trek my weary feet have been bouncing back ready for the challenge, but my legs still start out tired and need coaxing up the climbs.  Going slowly, my sore quads eventually got the rhythm and warmed up. 

Cerro Paine Grande peeking out under an intimidating cloud

Looking back over my shoulder at La Isla O Nunatak and… the apocalypse?

Let’s crop that to make it look a little friendlier

Lago Grey

Back into the trees, we heard loud chattering, not exactly bird calls, more like squirrels arguing. Are there squirrels in Patagonia?  Rounding a bend, we were graced with an appearance by rock star Magellanic woodpeckers, obviously not disturbed by a dozen hikers frantically snapping photos.  These are two males, father and son.  Dad has red coloring from the neck up and the fledgling male has the red crest. [The red will progress over the next 2-3 months until he looks like his dad.]

We retraced the path alongside Laguna Los Patos, looking grayer and more intimidating than yesterday.  Like back home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, though, threatening clouds gather and dissipate quickly. We put on rain gear and pack covers just in case.  Got a little wet but nothing major.

Almost there

As we approached Refugio Paine Grande we noticed a hawk flying above the meadow, looking for its next meal.  After a few passes over, it pointed its head into the brisk wind and hung, nearly stationary, peering to the ground for any movement.  Amazing.

 Hike is done, Cathy is ready to kick back

Pisco sour toasts to leaving our last footprints in Torres del Paine National Park

“We need the tonic of wilderness.  We can never have enough of nature.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

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