Destination

Clear Destination

Activity

Clear Activity

Date

If an adrenaline rush equates to adventure, there was no shortage of that on our recent experience with a MT Sobek, Hikers Patagonia excursion. While all logistics were taken care of, it still came down to watching our own step and, on occasion, those of others in the group of 14, ages 55 to 75.

My sister, Carla and my wife, Mari, and I met the others for the first time in Punta Arenas, a windswept town on the Straights of Magellan. Our primary guide, Tomas Marusić, directed the meet and greet and the first adrenaline rush faded as our initial impression of the group was quite favorable with lots of laughter and easy conversation.

Narrow roads and large buses provide a slow drip of adrenaline, so I always choose a seat half way back and on the right until the driver proves himself to be competent. In this case, Eduardo excelled at his profession and we were soon quite relaxed in his care. Guanacos, condors and ostrich-like reas made for multiple photo ops on our way to Torres del Paines. A crystal clear day boosted the next rush when the three towers came into view for the first time. While still miles away heart-rates soared at the stunning sight. Tomorrow we would be among them.

Tomas insisted on a 7am departure from our comfortable digs inside the park. The 12-mile trek was the first indication that this wasn’t a causal walk in the woods. Low clouds and rain made for a slippery slope and tested everyone’s stamina and choice of gear. The last steep mile to the base of the towers had us all on high alert for a misstep or dodging a rogue hiking pole as we clambered over wet boulders and tree roots. No clear sky today, but the tower’s elusive spires left plenty to the imagination. Fortunately, we had not yet met the wind.

A culinary adventure awaited us each evening as the wine flowed and group dynamics fueled our anticipation for the next leg of the infamous W. From the get-go, Tomas urged us to keep our eyes peeled for a puma, so when not being overwhelmed by the looming granite crags surrounding us we probed the underbrush for the tawny cat. Our ultimate reward was a family of red foxes who played rough and tumble on a hillside not fifty feet away. Halfway along the next leg of the W, the wind introduced itself with a 50 mile-per-hour gust. With daypacks adding to the windage, we had to drop into a crouch when topping each ridge to avoid a rude tumble backwards. In one instance I witnessed Tomas snag one of our group out of the air as a freight-train gust pitched her off a walkway into what would have been an icy plunge into deep standing water. Just watching shot me so full of adrenaline my hands shook and I lowered my stance.

During our transition to Argentina and the Fitz Roy range, massive calving glaciers of blue-green ice entertained us with their explosive blasts. Again, scudding clouds and high winds kept the adrenaline pumping when unexpected downdrafts turned loose clothing into machine gun chatter. In a remote lodge straight out of The Lord of the Rings we watched as the massive peak of Fitz Roy played hide and seek in the clouds like a gypsy dancer flashing her thigh. On our final hike of the trip with only a kilometer left to go, Fitz Roy and the attending jagged peaks revealed themselves in full as a condor swept ten feet overhead in a final farewell.

Just as I thought the adrenaline pump had stopped, there came a white- knuckle cab ride in Buenos Aires where the driver kept patting my arm saying, “calmate, calmate” (relax, relax).

Fritz Damler, MT Sobek Guest

MT Sobek Trip: Hiker’s Patagonia, 2019