January 13, 2017
OK, it seems my less-than-thorough reading of our agenda has provided yet another set of surprises. As a reminder, we are in Patagonia on a 10-day excursion . . . an excursion that had amazing pictures and inspiring language. I was inspired and I chose the company. [Note: I suspect that the following explanation is unnecessary, but I include it for anyone unfamiliar with our family. Susie is a master planner. She navigates airline and hotel reservations like she is playing a Beethoven Sonata. My contribution (generally) to our travel is my desire to improvise and find the fun thing to do once we are at a place. Also, I am the person that drives on the left hand side of the road. I, however, am not the person you want juggling details. I deeply appreciate the importance of details, but I seem to lack the proclivity to embrace them. “But Steve,” you may ask, “Don’t you run a summer camp that is chock-a-block full of details?” My answer is that our team is extraordinary and they understand my many shortcomings. I once explained it to a summer employee this way. Fire is good. It has a purpose and when you need it, you really need it. Similarly, gasoline has a purpose and is irreplaceable when needed. But, they are not good when put next to each other. I explain that I am to details as fire is to gas – good only when separated by a meaningful distance. I booked the rooms for Europe 5 years ago and we still marvel that we did not end up sleeping in refrigerator boxes. So Patagonia is on me. The glaciers put a big plus in my “win” column, but today might have made the water murkier.]
So I was sold on the broad description of our Patagonia excursion – beautiful vistas and stunning walks. The description also had a plethora of less-exciting “small print”. You know, stuff like itinerary details, physical requirements, packing lists and schedules. Nope, none of that minutia for this bold guy – I go with my gut.
Before this sounds like an intro to a travel disaster, please let me say that we have become true fans of this part of the world. The glacier yesterday was a visual knockout and the sites today were even better.
Once again, we have a great guide, a young man name Fecundo (with a Spanish nickname that absolutely does not translate politely to English) who has been funny, helpful and informative.
But my initial lack of focus on logistics has come at some price.
For example, after we finished the glacier trip yesterday, we piled in a van and drove 3 hours to our current location. While we pride ourselves on flexible travel, arriving at 11PM is never a great start to a new locale.
But my detail-deficit gets better. Our excursion today was a trek to see the famous El Chalten mountain. If the name seems unfamiliar (it was for me), you do know it. It is featured in the logo for the Patagonia outdoors clothing company. It was named one of the three “most beautiful mountains in the world”. This summit is truly that.
But the summit is not, and this is a truly relevant point, easy to get to. Nope, you walk in and walk out. Or should I say walk, climb, hike, traverse in and walk, climb, hike, traverse out.
I am not sure how to describe our adventure, especially since I remain in a place with snail-like internet. I will eventually post photos from our day; not to impress you but simply to assure you that I am not the worst husband/father ever.
So imagine unequaled beauty as I describe our day.
We started our excursion at 8:30. We would finish at 6:30.
In the interim, we would cover 15 miles of territory. Some of the paths took us steeply up mountains. Others went through rolling hills. We went by rivers, lakes, forests, grasslands and mountainsides. But all these paths had one thing in common. They were never flat. We were always either rising or falling with our strides. I am not exaggerating here. At some point (roughly 3 miles in) I noticed that we were never on flat ground, so I made a mental note of everything we walked on flat ground. There were not many mental notes. It had fewer notes than a Kindergarten song.
This was a hard day of walking. Wiley was silent at dinner. SILENT. When asked if he had a bad day, he assured us that it was lovely, but that he fell asleep minutes after returning. Virginia fell asleep and missed dinner. Terrill was present and communicative, but started the dinner conversation with simple question, “What part of you really hurts right now?” Liam (of course) was the one exception, but I chalk that up to his desire to NEVER look tired, weak or vulnerable.
So we are now “Level 1 exhausted” - worthy of academic study. Frankly, I have no idea why I am writing except that I remain exhilarated as much as exhausted. We have a set of memories that have become part of the Baskin Clan. That is special.
As long as I can walk tomorrow, we have another (flatter) 11 mile trek. I guess that sounds better.
PS. More pictures are coming, but after I spent 65 minutes trying to post 3 photos, I realized that I need to wait for a bigger city.