Recovery & the return home

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Yesterday was the culmination of one of the most physically demanding experiences of my life. Over four days, we completed the W circuit — about 50 miles — in gale force winds, horizontal rain and the occasional snow shower. It was trying, it was difficult. And it was absolutely amazing.

Last night’s dinner — pea soup, home-made gnocchi and a marshmallow soufflé — really hit the spot. But after expending so many calories, we woke up this morning starving. We fueled up on granola and eggs and then boarded a van. Today was a recovery day, allowing us to give our legs a rest while cruising around to those parts of the park we had not yet gotten a chance to see.

Our first stop was the Paine Waterfall, which was overflowing with glacial runoff.

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Afterward, it was a short drive to Laguna Azul, a lake named for its vibrant blue color. The strong winds turn what should be a placid pond into a churning ocean.

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Herds of guanacos feed off of the grasslands that lead to the lake’s shores while the Torres sit imposingly in the background.

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The van shuttled us to Laguna Marga, whose calcium formations give the body of water a power plant green color.

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We stopped for lunch at a nearby marsh, where birds walked the shores, guanacos playfully galloped by and small and colorful wildflowers dotted the arid plains.

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Back at the EcoCamp, we rested, packed and enjoyed the amazing weather. That evening, we were treated to a farewell lamb asado. Tomorrow, we will return to Punta Arenas for another overnight at Cabo de Hornos and dinner at Remezon.

On Monday, I’ll head back to the States on a 24-hour, four-flight trip, via Puerto Montt, Santiago and Atlanta. It should be exhausting.

But if it were easy to get to a place as spectacular as Patagonia, it wouldn’t be nearly as special.

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