|Hiking in Tierra del Fuego||1 | 2|
TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA — I stayed up too late last night drafting my latest writeup, so I had a tough time getting up this morning. Erin was kind enough to go read and have breakfast, letting me sleep another hour. Feeling a little more rested at that point, I showered and ate while she packed up. Then we took a taxi to town, picked up some snacks at a grocery store, and hopped a minibus to Tierra del Fuego National Park to do some hiking.
We dressed warmly, and damn good thing we did. The wind blowing off the water was really chilling, especially with the sun out and in the peak of summer. I had fleece sweats, a fleece sweatshirt, and my fleece balaclava hat — all in black. I looked like a fleece-clad forest ninja. Erin had the same outfit, but with a regular wool hat and snow pants that rubbed together loudly enough to scare away any wildlife within a hundred yards every time she took a step.
Our first hike was about 3.5 km in length. It was medium difficulty, climbing gradually (mostly) up a hill, past a beaver dam, and eventually reaching a meadow (Pampa Alta) that, by itself, was lovely and peaceful. But the real prize of the meadow was the spectacular views of mountains in all directions, with the bay/channel and tiny islands to the south. It was quite invigorating! The landscape is particularly interesting, because the clearly-defined timber line and occasional snow makes it look like we're really high in the mountains. (It kind of reminds me of the Rockies.) But we're actually at sea level, and the high peak beside us is only 970 meters high. The timber line is probably around 1500-2000 feet, max.
|Train del Fin del Monde|
On the way down, we ran into a road that went alongside the "Train del Fin del Monde", an old-fashioned (restored) train that now just takes tourists into the park and the old prison museum, but was once used to transport convicts in, and lumber out. We sat on the side of the road to have a snack and watch it steam its way past us. To call it "cheesy" is an understatement. It looked like it belonged in the kiddie section of an amusement park.