For the sixteen of us who just returned from Patagonia Chile, there have been a myriad of questions from friends and relatives. I will do my best to give you a flavor of this incredible country and trip.
There are truly no words to describe what we experienced on this journey. Even though the time change was only four hours, it took almost 30 hours to reach our destination. It was, without a doubt, the most adventurous and aggressive trip in the most remote area we have ever taken…quite different from a cruise in the Med! On the other hand, it was a trip we will never, never forget...a trip of a lifetime bonding with wonderful friends where nine adults and seven teenagers all got along and no one complained or quarreled once.
We enjoyed unparalleled scenery of the most magnificent mountains and glaciers one could imagine, rafted down the powerful and highly technical class 5 rapids of the clear, turquoise Futaleufu River, crossed above class 6 rapids on a Tyrolean traverse, and returned back on a zipline. We climbed 1,600 vertical feet to sleep in rustic tree houses built by Chileans 50 feet above the ground, galloped horses through beautiful meadows on a ridge of a snow capped mountain, slept in bamboo huts or tents, climbed 300 feet to rappel down the back side of “tower mountain”, kayaked, celebrated Aubrey's 14th birthday with a delicious pineapple cake made in a wood burning oven, created a sophisticated disco in a giant stone shelter with the use of our headlamps while dancing to Chilean music taught by the locals, enjoyed a “sing along” nightly to Gonzalo’s melodious Peruvian music played on his guitar, bathed naked in the 55 degree Futaleufu River, and became experts at packing and unpacking as it was necessary to carry our drybags and backpacks wherever the next adventure took us.
The weather was about as perfect as it could be....45 - 50 degrees at night and high 60's to low 70's during the day with water temps around 55-60 degrees. We experienced one day of rain and many other light sprinkles throughout the week, however, it never dampened our spirits.
Sleeping was difficult because of the 4-hour time change and anxiety over whether our children would step off the edge of their huts built on cliffs over roaring rapids and cliffs. These bamboo huts, just a bit longer than the length of a sleeping bag, were enclosed on three sides, however, entirely open on one end. You can imagine the parents’ anxiety particularly if you had a child who walked in their sleep. However, the view and sound ranked a “10”!
As the week progressed and aches, pains, cuts and bruises increased, the hot tubs at the end of the day became our refuge and place to recover. I don’t know what we would have done without them. The food prepared by the wonderful local Chileans was delicious. Hot tub time was also cocktail hour with incredible wines and appetizers such as guacamole and chips, oysters, or chocolate fondue with fruit.
Bushes became our dearest friends during the middle of the night. And then there were the little green “pee” buckets in the tree houses…enough said!!
Two of our three guides were from the U.S…Ashland, OR and Los Altos, CA. They were world class rafting guides and kayakers and incredibly skilled at maneuvering a raft down the powerful rapids, even after an oar bent!
Yes, it was a trip of a lifetime and I'm so glad we put our fears and doubts aside and decided to experience a part of this incredible country. Thank you Drew for the idea! Even with my description, the experience goes far beyond anything stated. The peace, beauty, simplicity and magnificence of Patagonia are a world away from how we live. And when I use these terms, they still do not describe the adventure. It was an emotional and spiritually moving experience and I feel blessed to have seen and enjoyed this wonderful part of the world, as I know I will never experience anything like it again. So, as I said earlier, even though there are no words to describe the trip, I tried. Just magnify what I've said by 100 and you may get an idea of our amazing adventure!
To Eric Hertz, Greg Smith, Brandon Buel, Gigo, Rachael, Lisa, and Earth River Expeditions, THANK YOU! And thank God we survived!!
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