Torres del Paine and its massive peaks or cuernos (horns), as they say in Chile. Hiking to this viewpoint, was not an easy task, even though its a "shorter" trek than a lot of the other trails in the park (5 miles RT). What is deceiving about it is that it is a continual 5 miles of up and down trails. Think of an Excel doc charting the stock market performance since its inception, a steady slog uphill, with many ups and downs in between. This is what this hike was. But all of that and the effort to get there faded away when you were standing there in person.
After finally finding our way up the unmarked open hillside an hour later, to the top of Loma del Pliegue Tombado, this is what lay before our very eyes. Pure, unadulterated, raw beauty. When my eyes first gazed upon this, it was so moving, my eyes teared up. It took my breath away, for moments later, after that long hike, reality kicked in and I inhaled deeply for more air. Stunning Fitzroy and Torre with wisps of clouds touching their peaks; Glacier Grande and Torre with their radiant aqua blue color; Laguna Torre with its half water, half frozen ice surface. Of the numerous beautiful vistas I have seen on my travels around the world, I can probably only count on one, maybe two hands, views like this that took over my mind, body and soul so completely, as if time stood still. With the combination of a long adventurous hike, up steep, snowy and icy hills, unmarked trails and wind that would make a hurricane jealous, the reward of this at the end of the trail was such a delicious icing on the cake. A moment frozen in time, seared deeply into my memory forever.
Los Glaciares National Park, El Chalten, Santa Cruz Province
Google Maps Location photo was taken from: https://goo.gl/16kWBf
Just before we made the final trek to the base of Perito Moreno, to get fitted in crampons, our tour guide stopped us at this forrest clearing. We had been shrouded in the woods on trails leading up to this point and when we made it into the clearing, it took my breath away. The sheer scope and magnitude of this beautiful glacier, up close, makes you feel like an ant. You wonder with amazement how something could be this stunning. My buddy and I were in the English speaking tour guide group, which only had ten people, compared to the Spanish tour with about fifty or so. This was to our advantage, for the tour guides were giving the groups a bit of a history on Perito, and with only ten people, we finished quicker than the others. We were first to get fitted for crampons and set foot on the glacier, but not before being warmly introduced to an amazing glacier, a towering snowcapped mountain, a vibrantly blue sky, pristine aqua blue gray waters and a craggy, rocky tundra. Perito's introduction to us was like one of those warm, enveloping hugs you never want to break from. I wish there was some magic spell I could have conjured up to capture the feeling you get when seeing this in person, for pictures really do not do it justice.
Los Glaciares National Park, 9405 El Calafate, Santa Cruz Province
Google Maps Location photo was taken from: https://goo.gl/64pwpY