Saturday, January 27, 2007

TDP Day #9: The pass to Grey Glacier

Today, we completed our longest and highest hike of all: 22 km over the 1800 m. pass and down to the "refugio" by Grey Glacier. (Shorter options are possible, but we were both looking forward to a hot shower, available at the refugio.)

Jolene looks back from the pass to the ridgeline we´d been following for the past several days. (The trail followed the valley below, until today.)

Cresting the pass, we were treated to a panorama over Grey Glacier, from its origin high in the Hielo Sur to its snout in Lago Grey. It is an amazingly long, vast, and beautiful flow of ice.

We hiked for hours along but well above the glacier´s edge. The view helped keep up our spirits as the kilometers passed beneath our tired feet.

Some of the obstacles to progress were formidable. This ladder was flimsy enough -- I held my breath as Jolene clambered down -- but the precipitous ravine it helped us cross would otherwise have ended our trip.

Jolene: "This was a thirty foot ladder down the side of a deep gorge carved out by the stream at its bottom. Fortunately, it looked to be new and in good repair. The other bridges and stream crossings built by trail crews were in varying states of disrepair or non-existant. We frequently found ourselves scouting upstream and down looking for ways to cross and stay dry. Our Gortex shoes were tested out as we often had to step in shallow water even when crossing from rock to rock. Thanks to the glacier rock & rubble evident throughout the park, we only had to remove our shoes and wade through one stream. The other times hopping from boulder to boulder -- while a bit stressful when done with a 30 pound pack on one´s back -- got us across."

Finally, we reached the end of the glacier -- and the hot showers!

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