Friday, March 11, 2005

::[torres del paine]::

they say that you get all four seasons in one day at torres del paine, and they are not kidding. the powerful winds push completely contradictory weather systems through the park at breakneck speeds. thus, in the same hour, you can experience sunlight fierce enough to make you strip down to a t-shirt, followed by a chill so intense it numbs your fingers, followed by rain, wind, snow, clouds, hail, more sun...and did i mention wind? i do not exaggerate. merciful, this park is not.

the marvelous thing about the volatile weather, however, is that no vista in torres del paine remains the same for more than a few seconds. everything is always changing; clouds are constantly revealing and shrouding mountains...light plays differently off leaves and water from moment to moment. this spells trouble for a camera-happy trekker like me. how many times did i think i had captured the most perfect photo of a scene, when the mist suddenly shifted to reveal a totally hidden mountain chain...or glacier...or river? i would snap another photo, only to find that, seconds later, a different and even more impressive landscape had been unveiled. no doubt my film-developing costs are going to be sky high. but given some of the breathtaking sights we witnessed during our five days in the park, i would say it's a small price to pay.

below are a couple glimpses that i snatched with my digicam. the best ones are still on 35mm film, though...i'll get to scanning them once things settle down.

one of our first views of the park---taken through the bus window. the scorched, black land you see is the handiwork of the fire that's been raging for the past couple weeks.

alvaro, stef, and i begin our trip at the eastern end of the 'W'.

as the clouds part after a heavy rain, we discover that we've been obliviously walking along spectacular mountains the entire day. where did they come from??

a cliff-bound river roars away.

alvaro and stef take a breather after a tough climb.
at the time of this photo, we were completely lost. again. despite being such a well-visited park, the trails (particularly in the privately-owned concessions) are not very well maintained. they tend to splinter off into indistinguishable false paths that eventually leave you stranded. we lost several frustrating hours to this, unfortunately.

the famous cuernos del paine...great horns of granite topped with sedimentary rock that often symbolize the park. the waterfall between them is full from the previous night's downpour.

contemplating glacier grey.

the torres del paine themselves. water streams from the edge of the receding glaciers to the laguna below. we reached the summit just in time to catch the torres before they were completely swallowed by rain clouds.

finished at last! one final photo before we unload our backpacks for good.


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