Sendero Fitz Roy starts from the northern edge of town, and after a minor mishap of a start, we plow uphill through the dusty trail to a stunning overlook of valley and river, this backpacking trip drastically different with its sun and heat.
My, oh my, how I love sunshine camping and hiking–give me sweaty grossness over rainy claminess anytime!
It is a glorious day and we are in a glorious mood, muscles fresh, packs light(er), distance totally chill–only 9.5 km to go this afternoon, a jaunt that should take us three hours or less, provided we keep pace.
Which, of course, we don’t, because it is a small world, and yet again, the Patagonian trail appears to be a perfectly appropriate place to run into people, this time, it’s Eric from Mirador Torres, the California student who earns a reputation of carrying his weight in peanut butter in Torres del Paine, a He-man backpacker ‘cuz this kid seriously has jars of the stuff.
Personally, I prefer almond butter.
But, that is asking a little much of our local economy down here, Graham reminds me, ‘cuz in case we haven’t noticed, Whole Foods and Sunflower are a long ways away, damn Boulderite.
Totally off-target and off-time, we could wax philosophical about nut butters all evening, but well, the sun will set eventually, and it might be kind of nice to set up camp with some sort of daylight left, which, happy for us, is precisely what happens.
Graham and I reach Campo Poincenot with ample daybreak left to scoop pristine water into our bottles–I mean, we can’t decide what’s more shocking, that we’re literally running stream-fresh water into our Nalgenes or that no way in hell can you even dream of clean, unfiltered water in the Rocky Mountains?–and set up camp.
Fitz Roy harkens above us, ragged, sharp, extreme, a light show playing against its outline, sun illuminating blowing snow, shadow puppets of ginormous proportion.
Beautiful, this sunset, and we watch it with our campmates–an Isreali couple who kindly grant us a cup of wine, a German couple, a to-die-for French kid who shyly asks his dad if he thinks I’m a nice lady before daring to tell me about the elephant illustration on their caravan, and an older American couple who live thirty minutes from the nearest stoplight and who, curiosity getting the better of them, tentatively approach Graham about his solar power charger and ask, “Inglès o Español?,” upon which Graham responds with, “English,” and the older gent exclaims, “thank god!”
We bond over this shared space and memory-in-the-making, uncluttered, breezy, fresh, and by the time the sky turns dusty blue, our ravioli dinner and tea await.
Then, as if to seal the fate of this most-perfect start to a backpacking trip, my midnight pee break dazzles me with more stars than I can count, Milky Way a thick splash across the sky, Orion rising upside down behind Fitz Roy, a million sparkles twinkling in unison, a gift of diamonds on velvet black so dense, I see waves of stardust.