The best

Sunday 18th December. By Paul.

Reflecting on our six months of travel there were “moments” that stood out as being particularly awesome, such as throwing our packs across a raging torrent, then crossing it ourselves, looking at the icefields of Kluane from the air, or seeing a wolverine getting chased by seagulls on the beach. Also, watching humpback whales breaching from the comfort of our campsite, walking along the Skyline trail, and exploring the natural amphitheatres of Coyote Gulch. Not to mention camping above the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon and marching up John Gardiner pass in blizzard conditions.

If forced to list our favourites:
Five Star Hike: Coyote Gulch/Stevens Canyon, Utah.
Five Star Kayak: Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.
Five Star Campsite: Riggs, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.
Five Star Fauna: Wolverine.

When we are passing through civilization we also appreciate the finer aspects of life. Our best:
Breakfast: 4 Elementos, Puerto Natales, Chile.
Morning tea: Baked Cafe, Whitehorse, Yukon.
Ribs: Oscars, Springdale, Utah.
Burgers: Circle D, Escalante, Utah.
Dinner: Afrigonia, Puerto Natales, Chile.
Dessert: Arthur’s red velvet cake, Whitehorse, Yukon.
Coffee: Milano Coffee Roasters, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Milkshake: Frosty Freeze, Haines Junction, Yukon.
Wine Bar: The Wine Loft, Flagstaff, Arizona.
Beer: (tied) Yukon Brewery, Chocolate Brown Ale Growler (Yukon); Oak creek Brewery, Nut Brown (Arizona)

And finally two of our favourite photos from the travels…

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House sized chunks of ice

Tuesday 13th December. By Jodie.

With these views in the Frances valley, I keep stumbling as I hike, because I´m constantly looking towards the glacier, watching for it to let loose massive bits of ice. It´s better sitting here at the viewpoint, waiting for the next piece to fall.

Layers of glacier are hanging above cliff edges. Sometimes we hear a loud crack. That must be a colossal block of ice splitting apart somewhere up there. Then, sometimes, a thunderous roar as the ice plummets down, shattering into fragments. If we are lucky we can see it falling and landing on the next layer down, adding weight to that glacier, maybe triggering a new ice fall below. We are sitting here for hours enjoying the drama.

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Getting the timing right

Saturday 10th December. By Paul.

We are sitting in a rough shelter, heated by a wood stove that leaks smoke, waiting for the weather to pass. Outside it is snowing, the wind is howling and we have another 800m to ascend before reaching a pass.

Many others left already but we are waiting for a better time as the views at the pass are meant to be awesome. With whiteout conditions, spare time and the sun setting at 10pm, we weren’t going anywhere just yet.

We contemplate lunch as more people get impatient and leave. At times it looks lighter, but then it darkens again and the wind picks up. At 1pm the conditions do ease up and we eat lunch, before heading out at 2pm. We are the last group to leave that day as others decide to spend a second night there.

An hour later we reach the treeline to blizzard conditions. Jodie is blown over by the wind at one stage as we plod towards the pass in knee deep snow. One hour later we are getting closer and the weather is improving, visibility is better although it is still snowing.

Later, and with 20 minutes to the pass, the sub shines abruptly through the clouds. Five minutes later we are bathed in sunshine and surrounded by views. We push on to the pass, sunglasses on.

At the top the wind is howling but it is clear and the views of Glacier Grey are stunning. We get over the pass and ten minutes later the clouds roll in again. Superb timing!

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Nature´s architecture

Monday 5th December. By Jodie.

Torres del Paine hike is living up to expectations. Not just the infamous wind that can knock you over (and it did). Also the spectacular mountain terrain. The torres (towers) are a highlight here, soaring vertically up into the sky, but the whole Paine circuit is dotted with other speccy stuff too.

After the circuit, we day hike the fauna route, to see the well camouflaged rheas and posing guanacos.

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The tent forest

Sunday 4th December. By Jodie.

We are looking in dismay at the scene before us. This is where we will camp? Really? Well, it’s not our usual five star campsite. We tell ourselves that Torres del Paine is about the hiking not the camping, and hope that all the campsites are not like this.

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Slow boat to Natales

Monday 28th November. By Jodie.

On a ferry for 3 whole days! With scores of other tourists, sleeping in bunk beds, and notoriously bad weather. This could be awesome or awful.

It’s awesome!!

When it’s clear the scenery is wonderful. When it’s cold or windy, the “pub” provides a cosy place to hang out. When we reach the open ocean and experience the infamous 5 meter seas, it’s crazy fun standing out on deck, like a roller coaster ride. The other passengers are typically long term travelers, with interesting stories to share. The facilities are better than expected. And it’s a treat not to have to make any decisions for 3 whole days.

We almost didn’t take this trip on the Navimag but I’m glad we did. There was an element of fate involved: the website to book our flight was down, the bus to Cochamo didn’t arrive, so we had 3 days spare and no transport booked. The weather looked good and the Navimag was scheduled to depart in a few hours. Perfect! Let’s do it!
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Love at first bite

Tuesday 23rd November. By Paul.

Dogs are a common sight in Chile, partly due to a reluctance to neuter the males. On our fifth day of kayaking, we went to a farmhouse to pay and find out whethermal hot springs are located.

As we approached the house, a lady came out to greet us. In addition a small, scrappy dog ran out of the house, behind Jodie and latched onto her ankle. It all happened so quickly, and even as Jodie shook her leg, this dog held on.

Great. Now we have to go to a hospital for a check up when we return and keep track of this dog if it dies of rabies….now we hope the dog lives a long life!

So what does the lady say to us after her dog bit Jodie? “Ten dollars each for the hot springs”.

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