Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

< Previous: To Ushuaia | Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue | Next: Rain >

From Channel to Glacier Ushuaia, Argentina, Thursday, 03 March 2005 7:43pm

Another fantastic day in Ushuaia and the vicinity. I dragged myself out of bed in the morning to catch the sailboat that I reserved yesterday (I've promised myself that tomorrow I get to sleep until I wake up).

The trip was awesome. It was chilly and overcast at first, and I was wondering if I should have worn thermals, but it warmed up as the morning progressed. Very unusually, there was almost no wind. Luckily, the velero had a motor as well, because otherwise we would have been becalmed.

It's the tail end of fur seal mating season, so we got to see hundreds of them sitting on the rocks near the lighthouse, fighting, and frolicking in the water. They jump above the surface like the dolphins do, but it looks like they do it on their sides, or maybe they're mid-spin as they break the surface. It's fun to watch.

We also saw an island full of king cormorants (called "flying penguins" because their black and white markings look strikingly similar) and a few dozen southern sea lions.

Our last stop was Isla H, which, it turns out is the ass end of the world. Or so the sign on the lighthouse (Argentina's southernmost) says ("Culo del Mundo").

The day was absolutely amazing. The clouds cleared, and we walked around the island looking at various local flora and the occasional bird, and taking pictures. Blue sky. Blue sea. Blue mountains in the distance. Neat orange lichen. Flourescent green coral-like plants (they seem like they're lichen covering a rock, but when you knock on them you can hear that it's plant all the way through).

After the boat ride back, I took a hike up to Glaciar Martial. From the base, there's a short Aerosilla (chairlift) ride up to the start of the hiking trail. From there, it's supposed to be about 90min up to the glacier itself, but that turned out to be a little tricky. In winter, the entire area is covered with snow (it doubles as a ski slope when it's not a hiking area), and it's really hard to tell whether any given steep scree slope is the path or just the remains of a mini-avalanche from the last winter.

I made it up to probably within 50ft of the glacier as the crow flies, but the way had progressed from a hike to a scramble, and the remainder was steep and slick with glacial runoff. There was no obvious route to choose (the "trail" had clearly ended a while back). The South African guy I ran into up there agreed that we were probably as close as we should try to get, given that we had zero rock-climbing experience, and it was 6pm on the top of a mountain and it seemed like we were the only people within an hour's hike (it turns out that there was another group coming up by an alternate route (Or was it the official trail? Who can say?), but we couldn't see them from where we were. So we decided to head down.

Descending on scree. Fun.

I'm taking way too many pictures. I should be limiting myself to 50/day, average, but I'm over 400 already. But I may be saved. I found a place that will copy pictures to CD for only AP15 ($5), so I'll definitely do that before I leave town.

Ok. It's now after 8pm, so restaurants should finally be serving dinner...


Running out of storage space dml Thursday, 03 March 2005 3:48pm

Have you tried uploading any of your photos yet? I can always try to pick up some more 1GB cards and bring them with me as well.

So very jealous that you got to see all this wildlife!

aneel Thursday, 03 March 2005 6:12pm

Nope. Finding a connection that lets me read my email reliably is hard enough. I don't imagine I'll find many that make uploading a bunch of 1.5MB files pleasant.

But I'll be on the lookout.

scree dj pie (Anonymously) Thursday, 03 March 2005 4:05pm

i am picturing you on the glacier trail, all crowlike in black. scree! scree!

aneel Thursday, 03 March 2005 6:13pm

Heh. I would have made it, if I'd just had the wings to match.

g-na (Anonymously) Thursday, 03 March 2005 10:10pm

Your trip sounds wonderful so far. Seals and dolphins and penguins, oh my! I'm looking forward to seeing your photos. Have fun!