Well that was like being at sea last night – I have never rocked and rolled so much in a car before. I was awake most of the night because is seemed the car would tip over, it was rocking that much. I should have parked more head on into the wind, but the car park was limited, and I had thought that nestled up beside Steve and Gilly’s big truck I was better off. Not so ! And talking to Steve this morning, they hadn’t fared much better ! Ho hum, the joys of Patagonia. So I was up, dressed, ablated, breakfasted and on my way by about 8.30 am – The wind was still so strong that I could hardly stand at the back of the van to make my breakfast – The cornflakes were blowing away ! And when I got up in the morning, not only had my little plastic footstool blown about 100 yards into the scrub, but even the toilet, which is not that light, had blown about 10 metres from the car and was resting against a bush !! So as soon as I could I headed round to Hotel Lago Grey, only about 500 metres down the road, to try and get some shelter from the howling and non stop wind blowing off the Grey Glacier and down the valley.
I found a bush to hide behind in the hotel car park, and had a couple of hours to kill before I would know whether my 3 hour boat trip up to the glacier would go ahead or not – Although with the way the wind was still blowing, I was not optimistic. I managed to obtain the hotels wifi password by nefarious means, and sat in the car trying to update my blog – Although it was awfully slow. By 11 am I had about half of it uploaded, and then went in to check on the status of the boat trip. Cancelled due to high winds – Next available space was not till the 6 pm cruise tomorrow. Well, I’m not waiting around in this windforesaken place at the far end of the park for 2 days – Much better things to do !! And I have seen enough glaciers already to know what they look like – Shame not to get a good look at Lago Grey, but after Torres del Paine, I guess it was my turn to have a few green wine gums. Not a problem.
I must say I haven’t yet seen a hotel in the Park which stuns me and makes me want to stay there, especially at the prices they charge. This Lago Grey Hotel is just like an Aussie outback motel accommodation wise – small rooms in weatherboard buildings, with a loo and a shower. Half of them don’t even look over the lake and the mountains. The view from the dining room and bar is very nice, but no better than the view from my camp sites most nights ! If I did this trip again, I would fly in, hire a camper, and enjoy the wild life and the views and the walks that way. Much more exciting, IMHO.
After chatting with Steve for a while, I headed off back through the park, taking the side turns that I had yet to explore. First I drove out to Lago Serrano to have a look at the camping and the hotels out there. Beautiful views over the river, back towards the Cuernos del Paine, but the camp site was more for tents, with no way of getting your car to close to the camping area, and the couple of hotels were OK, but once again kind of motel-ish, although once again with great views. Even though they charge full tourist prices, they just don’t maintain their facilities very well at all – Even at the Hotel Lago Grey this morning, the wooden decking out in front of the bar was rotting, and sticking up in places – What we would call a serious trip hazard ! They just paint over it, and move on. Their general facilities are just allowed to fall apart, and it reflects on their infrastructure. Doors don’t shut properly, taps and toilets leak everywhere, nothing is cleaned very well or very often. Even in the camp site I am in tonight, which is really quite nice, there is litter everywhere, and one of the two toilet blocks is closed because it is not working (and this is their 3 month high season !) This really could be gorgeous here, but they haven’t quite got it all together yet. It will come, and I am not complaining about it – Just telling it like it is.
Coming back into the park from Serrano I stopped for lunch at a bridge called Weber. It turned out that where I pulled off the road used to be the old bridge, built in the “80’s” (1880’s ??), but now replaced by a modern bridge. But the old bridge was a pretty special place to have a picnic, with a view up the turquoise lake to the Cuernos del Paine. It was then up beside Rio Paine a short distance till I came ot the camping site at Pehoe, on Lago Pehoe. I planned to stop here because there is a one hour walk up to “Mirador Condor” from here, which I want to do in the morning. And by stopping at about 3 pm it gave me a chance to upload some more of my blog as they have good wifi here.
The wind has dropped a bit, although as I type this at 8 pm it seems to be picking up again, so I have to make sure I am ready to drop the pop top at a moment’s notice. Once again some local vicuna sausages for dinner – Getting rather partial to them ! Maybe one more night in the park, a couple of short walks, and then I will have done all the walks I want (or can do !), so I will then wander slowly on down to Punta Arenas, the southern most city in the world, and on to Ushuaia.