Sunday, December 26, 2010

Argentina, Martial Glacier


With short nights, daylight comes creeping through my window too early for me to welcome it. The comfort of a warm bed adds to my resistance and it is well pass 8am before I barely rise.

Plans for an early morning “free” entrance to the National Park are crushed.

I must check out of Hosteria Chalp and do so after a nice steaming shower that puts some “shine” into my morning. It is about 11am as I am packing up my rental car while rearranging in my head possible plans for the day.

There is a noticeable change in the wind and temperature from yesterday. A light snow with huge wet flakes soon begins to fall and a gray fog reduces the visibility considerably.

I briefly enjoy the moment and then take refuge inside my “Ka”. Uncertain of the effect of this weather on driving conditions, I patiently wait for the snow shower to end.



CAN 001 I gladly accept the sun's return and set out for Martial Glacier. A short drive through town and I am climbing a twisting road lined on both sides with lush green vegetation.





CAN 002 Glacier Drive Views



A clear view of towering mountains against a now bright blue sky opens up before me. Here is where the hundred dollar a night and up resorts in Ushuaia are located.

Rounding a curve I don't know if it is because I am hypnotized by the scenery but I come within inches of a taxi racing down the hill. Obviously, he has seen the scenery too many times to still be captivated by it.



CAN 004 Parked at the base of a ski resort, I begin my hike to Martial Glacier already with an elevated view of Ushuaia behind me.





Encountering a couple of hikers on the way down, “Hola's” are exchanged then I inquiry about the length of the hike to the glacier.

“Dos horas”, two hours.

Maybe not too bad except it begins with a rather steep rocky climb. From another hiker I learn the glacier is not that visible today.



CAN 003 Already, it seems to me that no matter the time it takes or the conditions my hike to the glacier will be worthwhile.




Spectacular scenery with smooth faced towering mountains on both sides, brilliant white snow cap jagged ones in front along with the altitude and my breathe is literally taken away.

I make momentary stops under the warming sun to be awed and inspired as I allow my breathing to return to normal.



CAN 007 Reaching a ski chair platform, the terrain flattens a little as water from fresh melting snow cascades over smooth pebbles and giant rocks.

A relaxing sound.



Pass the ski chair, an “easy” climb is made through a wooden area where the path is muddy from recent rains. This path does have a low grade with natural and man made steps to help you along the way. Exiting the wooded area puts me in a wide open valley.



CAN 009 The mountains seem so close that I can reach out and touch them.

However, I must make a slight descent and cross a stream to continue on.






CAN 013 Mountain Stream




CAN 018 Now in an elevated deep valley I have even better views of Ushuaia and the port area below.





I watch for a moment while a westerly storm blankets the city with an afternoon rain shower. Here there are blue skies with the sun attempting to warm the chilled air.



CAN 015 As I continue my hike the terrain becomes more treacherous and the way less defined.






CAN 017 The path to the glacier makes a steep ascent and I can see “ants” moving around on the slopes in the distance.





Soon finding good footing becomes a matter of choosing careful steps. At some points, only a blunt rock may save you if you slip and fall. With the higher altitude comes more awe inspiring views that I use as an opportunity to catch my breathe.




CAN 027 Top View


Around each corner and over each hill I think I am getting closer to my destination but it seems to keep moving further away.



CAN 026 Others more equipped and able pass me by as I find myself having to take in more awe inspiring views.





SAM 003 I am not sure of my altitude but I don’t think I have ever hiked this high before in such mountainous terrain.






At the point that the terrain becomes uncomfortable for me, I reach my personal summit but never the glacier. Seeing the glacier would have been the “icing on the cake” but I am more than satisfied just having a few crumbs.



SAM 005 Looking down, I realize my initial descent will be just as challenging as my ascent.

Fortunately, others are climbing up and I will have idea of where a good trail might be.



At certain points, I side step like a horse on the loose gravel beneath my feet. Eventually, I am sitting by a stream reflecting on how fortunate I am to have spent an afternoon hiking a beautiful mountain in Argentina.







Sydney said...

Argentine South has the best landscapes!
The downtown Buenos Aires hotels I stayed at were really great!

DMBTraveler said...

Couldn't agree with you more about Southern Argentina, simply gorgeous!