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viernes 13 de diciembre

Objetivo: Poincenot Trek Modo: Pies Distancia: 30 kilómetros

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Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, Argentina Friday would be the longest day from a pure trekking standpoint. And from a sightseeing perspective, it would not disappoint. We rose at 8:00 and had our fill of oats and raisins, said “good-bye” to Ricardo and headed due southeast toward the Poincenot and Río Blanco Base Camps. The first hour was the same as when we came up two days ago: shady and well-marked, one lazy creek and several fallen trees. At the one-hour mark, we came to a fork in the trail. Knowing that we were close to the turn, yet unsure about where it was, we decided to split-up for better coverage. We wandered in different directions before finally meeting back at the trail head some fifteen minutes later. While roaming solo, Andy spotted a large cattle skull with a dirty red bandanna hooked through the left eye socket. The crude signpost was meant to alert trekkers of the turn south toward the Rio Blanco and Poincenot base camps. We went straight a bit further than necessary, crossed another stream and turned right onto what was clearly not a path. Andy wanted to push on, but I was reluctant. Fortunately, we crossed the stream again and found a minefield of small rock piles indicating the path to Poincenot and Río Blanco. We set off down this path for almost two solid hours. Most of that time was spent walking along the rocky west bank of Río Blanco. The trail markers eventually led us back into the forest. At noon, we paused on a large tree stump for a lunch of dried fruit, almonds and raisins. After a fifteenminute rest, we were rolling again. 73

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Shortly thereafter, we came to what most golfers would consider a serious dog leg right. The footing was tricky, but we decided to play through. Much to our surprise upon rounding the bend, the trail completely disappeared at the confluence of two fast-moving mountain riachuelos. Both streams were the product of the melting mass directly to our west, Glaciar Piedras Blancas. We stopped at this crossing called Piedras Blancas to take photographs. Here we met a middle-aged porteño named Gabriel who was vacationing with some friends in the park. He introduced himself and told us about his vacation and Glacier & Crossing his work in Buenos Aires as a chemical products importer for a U.S. medical company. We were heading in opposite directions but agreed to catch up at the Poincenot C.B. where we would all be camping that night. Piedras Blancas Approximately one hour later, we reached Poincenot and set up the Trango. With our tent poles again planted in solid ground, we prepared a simple pasta lunch and chilled for about thirty minutes. Once our carbohydrate levels were restored, we were ready for the second trek of the day: a one-hour hike from base camp west to Lago de los Tres. This was to be a relatively straightforward trek as a trail from the Poincenot base camp goes straight uphill to the base of Mount Fitz Roy. In fact, this route is so direct, many of the escaladores choose it as a departure point for their climbs. We made short work of the trail and reached the top in under an hour. This turned out to be one of the most memorable views of the riachuelo: stream entire trip. We found ourselves piedras blancas: white rocks on the bank of Lago de los Tres, a C.B.: common trail abbreviation for base camp. The typical trail/map marking for a beautiful, greenish-blue lake that base camp or shelter is j. feeds off of Glaciar de los Tres. Lago de los Tres: Lake of the 3. The water originates on the escaladores: mountain climbers. Literally, a climber of stairs. An escalera glacier, flows into the lake and is a ladder or a stairway. eventually flows out via a giant sucio: dirty. The word for dirt is tierra and polvo means dust. The opposite of waterfall on the lake’s southern sucio is limpio (clean) and the state of bank. The waterfall extends an cleanliness is limpieza. jueves el 13: Friday the 13th impressive 1,000 feet straight 74

Lago de los Tres
Nikon in hand.... “Don’t drink the water”

Andy captures the moment

Lago Sucio

down to a milky-green body of water aptly named Lago Sucio. Thoroughly enjoying the tranquility of this mountain oasis, Andy broke out his Nikon for some glacier pics while I skipped rocks across the chilly lake. Just to make things more interesting, Andy dared me to jump from the bank to a large rock approximately twelve feet out in the lake. Immediately, I began an exhaustive back-of-the-envelope physics calculation taking such factors as distance, rock surface area, water temperature, potential boot soakage, pride and personal stupidity into consideration. Three seconds later I had completed my analysis and was ready for the aerial assault. Had I remembered that it was jueves el 13, I might have reconsidered. I did a couple of practice runs just to get a good feel for the approach. I had seen Robbie Knievel perform a similar routine before his big jumps, so I knew that this would both mentally prepare me and simultaneously impress my spectator. Standing in awe, Andy watched my runs, heckled me and steadied his Nikon for what he hoped would be a watery descent. Once the crowd had quieted down, I began my final approach by sprinting toward the lake and planting my right foot just inches short of the icy water. Mid-flight, my heart rate spiked and I felt like I was going to make it clean. Extending my left leg as far as it would go, I was able to make contact with the slippery rock with my left boot. Despite landing on solid rock, the entire right side of my body was left out of the victory celebration, and my right leg plunged underwater, or rather underOH$#!%thisisfreezingwater. For some reason though, the cold and wet didn’t really bother me. I was too busy striking a pose for the cameratoting fan back onshore. This was a proud moment at the midway point of our young Patagonia adventure. 75

The jacket had a purpose, and so did the boy. His purpose in Life was to travel.
-Paulo Coelho

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A R G E N T I N A

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After two hours of exploring Lago de los Tres, we were exhausted and ready to head home to base camp. Our descent began at 19:00 and lasted a mere thirty minutes. Arriving back at Poincenot around 19:30, we pitched the tent, dined on polenta and sausage and both nearly froze washing the plates in a nearby stream. The eastern winds really started to howl, and a heavy line of clouds soon obscured the Fitz Roy summit. I updated our journal until 22:30 when it was, once again, lights out in the Patagonia.

deep south thoughts

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