Painting the Fitz Roy Skyline
When MT Sobek rates their adventures, they aren’t kidding. To avoid being an annoying 70-year old woman who couldn’t quite keep up, I trained rigorously for my level 4 trip. Yoga practice is key to my fitness and decades of hiking near my home at over 7,500 feet in the mountains of New Mexico, gave me confidence to sign up for Hiker’s Patagonia.
When we assembled in Punta Arenas for our first meeting with our capable guide, Tomás, I was relieved to hear thirteen other trekkers (ages 50 to 70) introduce themselves with humor, charm, and full recognition of the challenges ahead: two weeks of 15 mile hikes through rugged mountainous terrain with 2,000-4,000 feet of elevation gain. All of us agreed we were on this trip to hike and appreciate the vast outdoors every day and chose MT Sobek so as to be fully supported with a bed each night and home cooked meals including local wines. We, of an age and level of experience, understand our priorities.
Our 10th day began in a remote lodge under the spell of the seven summits around Mt. Fitz Roy. We’d slept in tiny hobbit cabins surrounding a central log dining hall on the edge of Laguna Condor. Our group finished breakfast and assembled a packed lunch from an assortment of fresh meats, cheeses, apples, beets, carrots, and power bars. We were to hike ten miles up the Condor Valley to Laguna del Diablo. The winds were high and the clouds threatened rain and sleet. My body and mind rebelled against this trek. Heading out wearing every layer of fleece and Gore-Tex I brought made me admit I was ready for a break.
I brought out my watercolors and set up my studio next to the hearth facing the picture window and painted. I waited all day for the Fitz Roy skyline to appear as a captive and happy audience. Our host at the lodge, Enzo, stoked the fire and laid a thirty-pound log on the embers every hour as he prepped his kitchen for our evening dinner. I drank endless cups of herbal tea while “The Very Best of Elvis” played on the boom box.
The troops returned by 5 o’clock, full of endorphins and hearty appetites. I was regaled with stories of the pumas they never saw, the climbers on the Fitz Roy traverse obscured by clouds and nests of condors that eluded them. We laughed while we ate the succulent barbecued lamb prepared by the crew who had indulged me all day.
Then the clouds blew past and the sun set on the mountains…Mt. Fitz Roy was revealed.
I painted the scene in fifteen minutes.
The next day, having satisfied my need for rest and reflection, I was ready for anything. Our 12-mile hike to the glacier lake below Cerro Torre amid spectacular scenery was rewarded by another clear view of Mt. Fitz Roy and condors in flight.
The gift of a trip like Hiker’s Patagonia is the opportunity to be in the moment. No decisions to be made except how paint and water move across the paper; the stillness of yesterday’s watercolor and the movement of the world today.
Carla Ward, MT Sobek Guest
MT Sobek Trip: Hiker’s Patagonia, 2019