The landscape here is so elemental and beautiful. It is like Eden: odd wildlife; Guanaco, Ibises, Rheas, Condors...  And the water that runs off of the glaciers is wonderful, the best in the world, according to the locals. No need to filter or add iodine, just hold your bottle under a waterfall and you are good to go. And there are countless streams so there is always water, no need to burden your pack with a day's supply.   There are a few refugios along the routes, so I was able to buy a few beers to go along with my dinners each evening. When I found a campsite I would stash the beers in the nearby creek, set up the tent, start boiling water for dinner and then have a cold beer while I rested my feet.

In the morning I woke up early, made coffee and broke camp. I set off back down the valley, reluctant to leave Glacier Grey, but eager to see the other wonders of the park. I stopped at Lago Pehoe to wash my feet and rest, then set off along the southern skirts of Paine Grande.

I managed to work up a dilly of a blister on the bottom of my toe:

The glaciers were incredible to be around. With a sound like thunder they would calve huge chunks of ice.

 Glacier Frances sits up on top of a mountain, and it always seemed to be dropping parts of itself off of the cliffs with a noise like the end of the world. It starts as a low rumble and builds to a crescendo of falling ice, the fragments being battered ever smaller until there is just a cloud of sparkling mist in the air. 


The path was varied and interesting, sometimes it would wind through deep emerald green forests, sometimes through open steppes with sweeping views, sometimes right along the shore of a lake, and sometimes there would be ridiculously rickety wooden bridges that would cross over rushing rivers.

I shed the pack for a while and did a light hike up Valles Frances. It was liberating to walk light. My blister made me wish for a set of branch loppers so I could just lop off the whole toe and be done with it.  Eventually I donned my heavy pack and set off again. I stopped by Refugio Cuernos and bought 3 beers and bummed a band aid off of a guy from Lebanon.

Copyright Estate of Anthony Vail Sloan 2009