There is no use in voluntarily soaking ourselves to the bone, so we do what never gets done and sleep in, a lazy Saturday rest in our tent, awake and goofy, not too terribly unhappy to be held prisoner by the rain storm.
By noon, lucky enough, the patter slows to a drizzle, a light fizz, and off we go, the 11 km to Lago Grey cake walk compared to yesterday’s 18 km.
The elevation gain is slight but my pack weight is not, and I slow down to a crawl. I am our Jeep in 4WD low, and no amount of poking and prodding from my boyfriend is going to make me exceed 1.25 MPH, or so it seems. This cake walk of a hike is turning into anything but, and coupled with the fact that each step feels like I am Atlas, weight of the world carefully poised on my burdened back, shoulders crippled, head bowed low, we may never get there.
I don’t even have the pleasure of distraction, for the drizzle persists, the clouds stay low, and my gear loses its impermeability about an hour ago.
Just when I think we may truly simply just never get there, I see a vista, the promise of a view and of the end–the glacier!
Around the corner, the mirador awaits, and my frown turns upside down, panorama on to Glacier Grey a pleasant change, a new pace, anything, really, to take my mind off the task at hand.
And, then, wait, whoa … I recognize that guy … from Facebook … wha? really? … is that? … could it be? … OMG!
As if this were the most happening corner on the globe, we essentially face plant into Kim and Matt, she an old cohort of mine from my journalism studies, he, her man, the two of them in South America, also here to touch the sky and chase dreams, kind enough to give us dose after dose of awesome insights and feedback on their South American explorations, advice Graham and I reference like a holy book of traveling.
This is uncanny, and the four of us squawk and cluck the minutes away, a meet-and-greet of epic proportion, for, really, how crazy is this, running into people you haphazardly know are on the same continent as you, on the same bit of trail, at the same moment, path crossing serendipitously.
The universe really does work in mysterious ways, and after a paparazzi session later proving that yes, indeed, we smack into each other in the coolest place and way possible, we part ways, the sting of cold and wet having worn down the excitement of a happy coincidence.
Off we go again, plans to see the duo at camp Italiano tomorrow, if fate permits, and for now, we power on to Lago Grey, carried downhill by the pleasure of a chance encounter with like-minded peeps from way back home.
Five hours and five breaks after our noon-time start, we arrive at Lago Grey, Graham kind enough not to rub in how slow I walk for the umpteenth time, offering, instead, to manage our campsite set up, yet again in the rain, while I blow, blow, blow our thermarests and unroll our bags under the protection of the fly, gear put away.
Packless and light as a feather, I find myself to be Hermes, feet lithe and supple, more Speedy Gonzalez than Godzilla, and propelled by the fact that I am drenched and freezing, I almost run the 4 km jaunt to see the glacier from up close and personal, over the sketchy suspension bridge, all the while whispering, “this is safe, this is safe, this is safe, this is safe” as my vertigo threatens to stop me mid-bridge.
And, just because that’s how the cookie crumbles for me, I turn around just minutes before pay off, I hear, too cold to think of anything other than my sleeping bag, and it is back down the road I go, glacier cracks and crashes reverberating through the forest, sending me faster to the next overlook to catch a glimpse of a piece of this or that.
Dinner time, please!