Hi everyone, so last Wednesday was my first taste of the glaciers and they didnt dissapoint at all, the day was spent on a boat traveling around to see 3 of the glaciers in the national park. It was an early start the national park is 80 km away from here so we were up before sunrise although thats actually late at about 9:30 at this time of year, anyway the bus taking us to the port was the coldest bus imaginable and i needed all my layers on on the bus, let alone being outside, when we finally arrived we were quickly allowed onto the boat and told to take a seat the boat was really nice all heated inside with big decks and the front and the back to go outside and look at the glaciers from and it had 2 floors so there was plenty of space as its low season here at the moment. The first hour or so on the boat was just sailing across the lake its the biggest lake in Argentina and the 3rd biggest in South America then we started to see icebergs that had floated away from the first glacier, these were spectacular and so much larger than i thought they were going to be and they are really really blue, not white but blue i thought this was a bit strange but made them more beautiful i think. So we sailed around some icebergs for another hour or two before making our way to a view of the first glacier, and i was constantly in and out of the boat trying to warm my hands up ready to take more photos after taking about 5 your hands started to go numb it was so cold and when the boat started sailing standing at the front was almost impossible as the wind made the temperature seem so much worse. When we got to the first glacier you could just about see the top of it but so much ice had fallen from it in the last few days you couldnt really get close enough but all the icebergs were fascinating so many different shapes colours and sizes it was really spectacular, it took quite some time to navigate out path through these icebergs and then we went to a smaller glacier that you could see up in the mountains this was really good to see how a galcier begins to form or when its on its final retreat as in this case, and its so blue compared to the rest of the snow on the peaks, and i imagined glaciers to be fairly flat on top but they arent at all its like giant icicles standing upright all jagged its fascinating. Then the final trip of the day was to see the northern face of the Pietro Moreno glacier, this is the really famous one, and the one i wanted to see most of all, it was absolutely amazing this face was 2 1/2 km long and we got really close to it, only about 200 metres away, and the part out of the water raises up 60 metres in places and it reaches the bottom of the lake so in total this face is around 300 metres tall, its stunning. We sailed up and down this face taking in the view and loads of photos for about 2 hours before finally making our way back to the port and then back to the hostel.
The next day i spent going to the Pietro Moreno galcier again but today was to walk around the southern, eastern and northern faces along the balconies and to watch the huge lumps of ice falling into the lake, i think this was my favourite out of the two days and i spent 4 hours walking the balconies without being bored for a second. The balconies are around 6 km long in total and have lots of places to sit and stand and just wait for the spctacular carving of the ice. As i walked down one of the ramps to the first set of balconies on the southern face, i heard this tremondous roar and crack of the ice as a lump fell into the lake, its kind of like thunder but so much londer and powerful and unexpected, i was a little dissapointed that i couldn't actually see the glacier at this point but was hopeful of seeing it again later and the sound is something i will never forget, a truely amazing experience. Anyway as i arrived at the first of the balconies the sun came out and it started to warm up, when your this close the ice makes so many sounds creeking its way forward and as pieces crack away from others i never expected anything like this even though i had heard various stories about it, i walked from balcony to balcony taking a riduclous amount of photos and them one section creeked and craked a lot, i was hoping this would be where the next carving would be and i was right, as i watched the ice break away from the glacier and fall into the lake with a breathtaking sound i couldn't believe it, the size of this piece of ice was about the size of a double decker bus and the ripples it made across the lake are extrodinary, you can see when everything settles down again the impact of the ice into the lake as all the fragements of ice get pushed away to the furthest ripple. This is definately one of the highlights of the trip and something i don't think i will ever be able to forget. This carving happened all morning when the sun was out and even when you were walking around and couldn't see the glacier but just hear it, it still managed to take my breath away. I think i was lucky because when all this was happening at first when i got there most the people on the trip had gone on a smaller boat trip to the one i did the previous day and this meant there was only about 8 people in the whole of the balconies i imagine its a diffent experiece with all the people there in high season but to have a balcony to yourself made for great photos and the noise had a far greater impact.
So on Saturday i went to a place thats got the best hiking in Argentina called El Chaiten i was really looking forward to this as i have enjoyed all the hikes i've done this trip so much, we got there at perfect time just as it was getting warm but early enough still to get a good days hiking in and i set off immediately, i had come prepared for the cold but quickly i had to remove layers as i was working up a sweat, i got to the first viewpoint of the hike i had chosen fairly quickly stopped for some photos and a sandwhich and carried on down into the valley, i hadnt seen anyone the whole time and this was about an hour and a half which was nice in a way but its always better to know someone is there in case you get into trouble, as i carried on and got to the bottom of the valley i started to see some snow flakes, i carried on but within a coupe of minutes and not longer than that the weather had changed completely, i have never seen weather change like that, i was caught about 2 hours from the town in the middle of a snowstorm, i had to go back. The snow settled instantly and within 15 minutes it was ankle deep and in half an hour it was above my boots, the wind was somthing ferocious and the snow was stinging my face with every step i took, i had my sunglasses on to protect my eyes and my scarf/choob thing to the bottom of my glasses but every breath i took the glasses were steaming up, and the path that was so easy to recognise now covered in snow was impossible to know if you were going the right way or not. Eventually i made my way out of the valley and to the shelter of the mountainside, where the lack of wind made everthing seem a lot better and i was relieved when i finally made it back to the town, i made a little snowman and just had to wait the day out and hope the snow stopped.
It did but it was still so deep in the morning that the more difficult trek i wanted to do was now unadvised so instead i did two smaller treks that were fairly easy still the snow made things a lot more challenging but far more rewarding in terms of spectacular sceneary, and that evening i had a bus back to El Calafate again where i am now and waiting for my flight back, to Comodorro Rivadavia with various possibilites of where i will end up next.