Chile - Patagonia - Jorge Montt Glacier - 2008/02/07 - 17.6 miles



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Crossing the exposed 5 kilometers to the southern shore we are in position to get to the glacier. On a day with wildly varying conditions, the first ice chunks appear. Camp 4 is on the edge of a large glacial moraine sand bar.




Day 8 (Thursday)



The next morning was a little chilly here in Chile. A clear sky overhead had allowed the temperatures to come down during the night. The stars had been bright and I tried to get a time lapse photo to show them off, but the only stars that recorded on the 15 sec maximum shutter time on my camera were just the very brightest. That left a field of black and just a few pin points of light, making for a very dull picture.

This morning's few clouds hung high over the mountains to our east, reflecting the pink glow of the rising sun onto our early rising camp. We wanted to be packed and on the water in case the wind rose as it did the previous day. With just hot chocolate and peanut butter on biscuits for breakfast we broke camp ad were on the water by 8:30 A.M.




We paddled about four miles to the south end of Vargas Island. Across the straight, the sun highlighted the snow on the distant peaks. About a mile to the east was Isletas Edmundo. By the time we got to the narrowest point of the straight, the wind had only come up to 5 to 8 mile per hour, about a Force 2 wind, which left very modest waves out on the open straight. We headed straight across to the nearest point on the shore. it took about an hour to make the crossing without any apparent current an no wind effect carrying us off our range. So we paddled straight at out objective and made the crossing in just over an hour. The wind died as we reached the far shore and the water became glassy. It made all the build up for this short open crossing seem like overkill.



Turning left we followed the shore to a small stream and an old fishing camp. There was a wrecked small boat on the shore and a run down cabin. The clear stream along side it had a small waterfall which we could not approach because of the rocks. There were many black bugs here so we went about 200 meters further down the shore to try to find a place where they weren't so thick. There we had lunch. While Kate and Julio had a nap I walked down the beach taking pictures of the strange trees and bold foliage. Looking back across the open water we could now see the snow of the northern ice field that was blocked from our view at the last camp. After a long break we were ready to get back in our NDK Explorers try for a camp nine to ten miles away.



The day which started out clear, had gone grey and overcast while we were having our lunch stop, not once again became clear, sunny and dead calm. We paddled over the oily appearing grey green water. In fact the waters became more grey as we approached the glacier. The trees along the shore were scraggly, barely making it on the extremely thin soil in the cracks of the granite shore which had only recently emerged (geologically speaking, from under the ice. The white of the southern ice field gleamed ahead as we pointed our bows to it and paddled along.
As we paddled across the strangely smooth waters, we kept hearing a honking sound coming from across the water. I kept looking for what was making the call but couldn't pick up anything. Finally Julio claimed that it was a penguin. What it was doing this far back from the sea in an area where we had seen no fish to speak of I can;t imagine. After a few minutes of looking I finally spied the little fellow and his mate as they honked back and forth keeping in touch with each other over several hundred meters as they looked for food. Julio thinks that it was a Macaroni Penguin. Both birds were too far away to get a picture of them.

Along the way we paddled past a couple of small waterfalls tumbling right into the sound. At one Kate pulled along side and we filled up the water bags in case there was no water right at camp. We were planning on camping on the flat end of a peninsula where the ancient moraine used to be, long before the glacier retreated some 12 miles farther up the valley. This would be a convenient camp for the next days exploration of a long fiord where there were suppose to be a lot of bird life.




We arrive at camp at half tide. The beach was very shallow and it was a long haul of all the gear from the water's edge to the shore just above high tide. After we got all the stuff up the beach, set up the tents and hauled the boats to camp, the water had retreated even farther.

On the far side of the beach and the other side of the terminal moraine, several icebergs were grounded on the shallow rim One iceberg had two modes of floating, bow down or stern down. It shifted from one to the other a couple of times before night fall, accompanied with groaning from the rocks on which it was beached and a big splash of water as the huge chunk of ice teetered back like a dunking bird. We could see other bergs making their way down the fiord, awaiting their turn grounded on the moraine where the sun and warmer water would slowly devour them.

After a long paddle day, we finally retired to our tents after dinner as the grey skies and spitting rain had returned, making a complete 720 degree turn in weather for the day.

On to day 9 ............................

Back to the start of the trip...................

Wildlife:
Neotropic Cormorants
Spectacled duck
Great Grebe
Steamer Duck (flightless)
Black Browed Albatross
Black Throated Huet Huet
Macaroni Penguin(based on size and voice)




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