Saturday, January 2, 2010

Torres del Paine - Day Three

Kaitlin was naturally torn between the desire to continue on, not wanting to abandon the trek so soon and not wanting to jeopardize her health in a fairly isolated place.

We struck a deal. She would ask the park ranger if he had antibiotics. If he didn't, perhaps we could just skip Valley Frances and head toward Refugio Los Cuernos if there were a doctor there.

The park ranger didn't have any medicine and there wasn't a doctor in the entire park. We were completely on our own.

By this time Antti and Laura were up and while Kaitlin started breakfast, I explained the situation. We didn't want to risk it getting worse. She had taken the cold medicine we had brought and it didn't work - it could only be bacterial.

Antti, "Ah, but Laura has antibiotics! So there is no problem."

The word "prodigious" flashed through my brain.

We were saved by the unforseen third option. And then I was a bit spooked. How fortunate could we be, meeting Rob and Blanche at Administration - Rob and Blanche meeting Antti and Laura at Pehoe - Antti and Laura having antibiotics...

But, things like this happen...

So, the plan was then that we would all leave our tents at Italiano. We would hike up with only our lunches to Campamento Britanico and then another twenty minutes to the outlook of Valley Frances.

The trek was rather easy on the way up. We bounced from boulder to boulder - led on by the ridiculous geology before us. Becoming, very simply, that quintessential experience that defies words, pictures, videos, etc...

We arrived in the hollow of what seemed like an advancing wall of stone, snow, and cloud. You couldn't stare at one spot too long for fear that you would be engulfed by the looming peaks in your periphery. I kept smiling and hated myself when I spoke. It was so quiet there and it should only be quiet.

It is a place that I would go back to at any time in my life and I would stay there. But we eventually left. We had to make our way down, pack up camp, and get to the next camp before sundown.

From Italiano we skimmed across Lago Nordenskjold again, but this time the trek took us down to the denim colored pebble beach and up into the hills where I could see just enough of everything to feel like I was stealing or special.

I didn't want to think the things we were seeing had anything to do with Christmas, but I couldn't help it. It was a gift to be here. It was a different contentment. I justified being happy without my family, by vowing that I would somehow share some substantial percentage of my feeling in that moment - with them.

That night we made dinner outside of the Refugio. The let us eat inside. We stayed till late. Sharing box wine and salami and sweets. We indulged as best we could. It felt good to be warm and in good company, though it was impossible to ignore the staff and structure of the room..and to know that our families were not in the next room.

My belly full of wine and pasta and deli meat and chocolate, I smirked at the intensity of my happiness and slept deep and hard.

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