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He first came to South America in 1972 after "winning the exploring coastal Patagonia and the jungles ofEcuador. Lake
lottery," he said. That would be the Vietnam draft lottery. admired Brian's deep knowledge of South American customs,
Since then, he had guided seekers through Amazonian but Lake's gentle, earnest temperament was the antithesis of
jungles and Andean mountainscapes that sometimes even Brian's Kit Carson swagger.
the natives didn't know existed. Lake also had the strangest, though wonderfully charming,
Brian's favorite line was, "Don't let facts spoil a good story," habit of coming up with a quip for every situation. I think he
and he apparently didn't. But it didn't matter. When he regaled swallowed Ambrose Bierce's Deuils Dictionary as a child.
us with tales of facing down a grizzly bear in Alaska and During one late-afternoon squall, for instance, the rain
experiencing the "life-altering sensation of being the prey"; drenching us in an instant, I lamented that if I had brought my

LEFT: lnthe calm of a late Patagonian afternoon, along the flowery Las Torres campsite, horses gallop back to the corral of a nearby estancia.
RIGHT Hewitt takes the lead in a two-person sea kayak, paddling through an icy field in a lonely flord in Tiena del Fuego. Waterfalls stream down
steep adjacent mountains-which form a spooky, spectacular corridor-as steamer ducks speed along the ford's surface like flapping hovercrafu.

of being buzzed by condors while bolted and roped to the gloves, my hands wouldn't be freezing. "Right," he said. "And
side of a vertical granite mountain in Colombia; of pitching if crickets had shotguns, the birds wouldn't screw with them."
a tent on the banks of the Tambopata in Peru and waking As the second leg of the journey began, one of Lake's
up in the night in the middle of the flooding river; well, aphorisms resonated presciently across the stormy strait and
I believed the essence of what he was saying. into Tierra del Fuego: "You're going to love not loving this."
A sage with a macho edge, Brian, 47, hiked in rubber beach But it was impossible not to love the haunting mountains
flops, carrying a pink canvas backpack that was probably and harsh tundra surrounding us as the Cabo Tamar chugged
new during World War II. (This was a guy who wouldn't be for hours along the narrow fjords, searching for a calm inlet
caught dead in an outdoors store. Hewitt told me that when where we could set up camp. Although Brian had previouslv
she bought Brian a Patagonia fleece jacket, he struggled for scouted the Serrano Sound, this would be the first time any-
hours to take off the label.) He walked with a metal pole- one had camped on its shores, and certainly the first tin-re
years of rock climbing had eaten away the cartilage in one dizzy Americans would paddle along its waters.
of his knees-and he never varied his moderate speed. Uphill, The virginity of our voyage, in fact, inspired breathless
downhill, it didnt matter: He was consistency in motion and conversations aboard the boat. "This is the planet as we first
a pleasure to follow. received it," someone said. "This is untampered nature, a
Often, Brian halted us on the trail and ree led off the privileged view that few will ever share," commented another.
Latin names of trees, flowers, and birds: Nothofagus anta,'tica, fust as we were reveling in our good fortune to be this far
Fuchsia magellanica, and Cygnus melanchotyphzs, for the regal from civilization, Brian and Captain Gonzalez spotted an
black-necked swan. One morning, I confessed I wasn't sure inlet in which to anchor. As we approached the shore, an
that knowing all the scientific names brought us any closer to unidentifiable white object appeared on a small mountaintop.
nature. Brian laughed and told me of the time he was scouting "What in the world is that?" I wondered.
trails in Peru with a Quechua Indian mule herder, constantly "It's got to be some kind of animal," Hewitt said.
asking him to identify a new plant or mountain pass, and "I don't know," said Lake. "It looks like a plastic lawn chair."
each time being told, Tiene su nombre; It has its name. As we motored closer, Brian stepped out onto the bow.
On the trail and particularly during posthike drinking "Oh my God," he said. "It is one of those stupid lawn chairs.
sessions, I got to know Reg Lake, 56, who was taking a few Thatt a crime against nature. We're not leaving without it."
final pointe rs from Brian before guiding his own trips in Shortly after anchoring, antsy to get offthe boat, we strug-
Patagonia. A legendary kayaker-often called the grand- gled into layers of long underwear and cumbersome Goreilex
father of the sport-Lake lives in Santa Cruz when he isn't dry suits, and set the crayon-colored (coNrrNUED oN eAGE 136)

REG LAKE (left three); KEVIN BERGER (right) May 2000 73


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