January 30, 2003

Chile flagToday was an easy day, so we didn’t rush out of bed. Most of the others left camp before us. The trail continued going up and down over the rocky bluffs, which did not make us happy. And soon it got worse; we got into a burned-over area where the trail went over exposed rocky bluffs where gusts of wind threatened to blow us off the cliffs, and almost did at one point. There were even ladders going up and down some of the gullies.

Finally after a particularly deep chasm the trail settled down and became actually walkable. We could look around, and see that the trail was running parallel to Glaciar Grey, which filled the valley to our right. It looked really close, but it must have been several hundred metres away. Suddenly we walked into Campamento Los Guardas, which totally surprised us; we had only been hiking for two and a quarter hours, although the map suggested three and a half hours as par.

And soon we started to meet people with only day packs, or no packs at all. That meant that we were close to Refugio Grey. The trail flattened out and ran through groves of widely spaced trees down to the refugio and campground, at the edge of the lake. There were bergy bits near the lakeshore and big icebergs grounded further out. We had never seen such dark blue ice.

It had been raining a bit, so our packs were damp. But as we brewed our soup for lunch the sun came out, and it stayed out, pretty much, for the rest of the day. Time for a rest after all that hard hiking. So we sat around in the refugio and on the beach chatting with the other campers and generally doing nothing. The name of the Brazilian guy is Uirauna (“Uira”, pronounced “Weera”). The German couple aren’t actually a couple, he’s Swiss and they are just travelling around together. And this trip is her first backpack and she has substandard equipment, so no wonder she was exhausted.

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