Monday, February 1, 2010

Heading South

The plan was simple, I would continue south on the paved Ruta 3 along the Atlantic coast all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, and take the more adventurous dirt roads of the famed Ruta 40 on my way back up north.

Leaving the Valdez Peninsula on December 8th I made a series of stops as I traveled down the coast:
  • The penguin refuge of Punta Tombo was my first excursion. Over a half million Magellan penguins come here every year to lay their eggs. The park is unique in that you can walk amongst the birds, while staying on designated walking trails.
  • Back at the highway junction, I had to decide if I wanted to continue south under the darkening clouds, or backtrack north a bit and get a place in the city of Trelew.... Once in Trelew, I easily found a hotel and enjoyed a beer in a joint where Butch Cassidy once stayed.
  • Continuing south on my way to the Glacier National Park in the El Calafate, I stayed my last night on the Atlantic coast in Puerto San Julian. Not much of a town, but rich in history: Magellan wintered his fleet here before discovering the passageway that bears his name, Charles Darwin ventured about while the Beagle was anchored in the nearbay bay, Sir Francis Drake stopped over here while on his circumnavigation of the world, and it's where Mike Lewis lost his Spot GPS sender. Also, earlier that same day, I noticed that my front shock was leaking fluid. Not a great day.
  • The Perito Moreno Glacier in Glacier National Park is unlike anything I have ever seen. It is like a living breathing sculpture. The ice has filled the mountain valleys since the last ice age and the ice flow continues to move down towards the lake. The ice is ever cracking and creaking, breaking off, and reflecting hues of blue. You can't stop taking pictures. I went on a day hike on top of the glacier using crampons. It was a beautiful day, and exhilarating to actually be able to get on a glacier.... before they all melt.
  • On December 17th I crossed the Argentina/Chile border for the third time on my way to Punta Arenas. I was meeting my friend Kristin, who I had met in Guatemala, and who I would thankfully be spending Christmas with. I am not to the bottom of the continent yet, but very close.

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