Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Moab Memorial Day 2013

For Memorial Day weekend we rented a house in Moab on the edge of the golf course with Rich, Belinda, Edite, Ryan, Annette and Colby. It was the perfect way to spend the long weekend using the house as a base for adventures like hiking, golfing and biking.

You can check out photos from the weekend HERE

Slickrock Bike Trail

Melissa tees off by our house

Slickrock Bike Trail

Landscape Arch

Delicate Arch

Petroglyphs found by our house

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = Perito Moreno Glacier

We are back in El Calafate for our last full day of adventure in Argentina (well, besides the day+ of travel back to the states, that was an adventure in itself). We stayed at Esplendor Hotel Boutique again and woke up early to catch the ride out to Perito Moreno Glacier with Hielo y Aventura. We highly recommend their operation, the tour was, yet again, an experience of a lifetime!

A little fun at the edge of the glacier before our trek

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz province, Argentina. It was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Argentine Patagonia.

The 97 sq mi ice formation, and 19 mi in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile. This icefield is the world's third largest reserve of fresh water.

The terminus of the Perito Moreno Glacier (above) is 3 mi wide, with an average height of 240 ft above the surface of the water of Lake Argentino, in Argentina. It has a total ice depth of 558 ft.

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is growing.

After viewing the terminus we hopped on a boat and road across to the trailhead that would lead us up to our trek out onto the glacier. We hiked for about an hour or so, then strapped on crampons and harnesses and explored the amazing ice features.

The photos will speak for themselves.

The ride back on the boat included whisky over glacier ice and views/sounds of the glacier calving off of the South side into Lago Argentino.

Back in town, we enjoyed one last huge Argentinian dinner of lamb, steak and wine at the Don Pichon restaurant overlooking the town.

Our final dinner at Don Pichon

The next morning we had a few hours to explore the town a bit more and enjoyed an authentic mate form the yerba maté plant. The waiter at Borges y Alvarez Libro-Bar was kind enough to explain the social ritual drinking procedures and we ended up buying some mate and a traditional gourd cup to enjoy back at home.

Enjoying an authentic mate

Then it was off to the airport (Be sure to bring tax money to pay before you can enter security. They never mentioned this to us and we had a horrible time trying to get it paid since that day Visa was "not working" for them and there is no ATM at the airport!) to begin 18 hours of travel back to Colorado via Trelew, Buenos Aires (with a mad dash through baggage, security and customs to barley catch our plane), and Houston.

As you can see, it was most definitely a trip of a lifetime. We would be glad to give anyone that is traveling to the are more details, so reach out to us if your planning a visit to Argentina/Chile.


To view photos from
EcoCamp Perito Moreno Glacier,
click HERE

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = French Valley

The third adventure on the EcoCamp list was an active 13 mile trek from the comfort of our EcoCamp dome to Valle Del Francés (French Valley). (The trek is named Navigation Pehoe Lake and hike French Valley)

We were very excited to visit the French Valley!

After breakfast, we started our day driving towards Pudeto dock, located on the shores of Pehoe Lake. We board the catamaran that takes us to the North-Western sector of the lake where we’ll begin the challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif.

Our trek crosses in front of Cerro Paine Grande peak
(tallest in the park) and up the valley to the right

An active walk led us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south-eastern face of the Massif, where there is a truly wonderful view.

View from the French River hanging bridge

Here we had lunch, took some fun photos and rested for a while. Then we continued up the trail to the upper section of the valley where we admired the valley's entire group of geological formations. The head of French Valley is a cirque formed by impressive cliffs. The colossal walls of Cerro Cota 2000 and Cerro Catedral punctuate the western region of the Valley. Cerro Cota 2000 is named for its elevation; its highest contour line is about 2,000 m (6,562 ft). Cerro Catedral is named so because its east face resembles a cathedral's facade. To the north stands the granite arête called Aleta de Tiburón (English: Shark's Fin). To the east, from north to south, lie the peaks Fortaleza (Fortress), La Espada (The Sword), La Hoja (The Blade), La Máscara (The Mummer), Cuerno Norte (North Horn), and Cuerno Principal (Main Horn). The weather was some of the best the guides had seen in quite a while. Blue skies and you could see for miles.

Some of the amazing peaks in the French Valley

After enjoying the view, we descended back through the rippling terrain of grassland and light forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. While waiting for the rest of the crew, we enjoyed a local brew and rested our sore legs.

A much deserved beer after an amazing day!

From there the catamaran took us back to Pudeto and we're driven back to EcoCamp.

We spent the last evening enjoying the amazing food, wine and company before heading to bed. It was an early rise for us to catch the group bus back into Argentina and up to El Calafate for our second stay in the adventure town.

We really did not want to leave EcoCamp Patagonia. It was by far the best part of our trip, we would highly recommend it to anyone, hope we can visitin again and want to thank our EcoCamp guides and staff for an adventure of a lifetime!

To view photos from EcoCamp French Valley,
click HERE

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = Grey Glacier

We chose the Wildlife Safari five day tour at EcoCamp Patagonia. This allowed us to be flexible with our activities in the park. Each evening we had the opportunity to choose from an Easy or Active adventure for the following day.

A map to give you perspective on where we are in the world.

The second adventure on the EcoCamp list was an easy trek day from the comfort of our EcoCamp dome to Grey Glacier. (The trek is named Drive & Walk Western Lakes, Navigation Glacier Grey)

We rode across the Park, stopping along the way at lookouts to admire the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black, granite horn-like spires.

A look out over the park to Paine Grande

Los Cuernos

Walking along the shores of the stunning Lake Pehoe, we saw the furious Salto Grande (Big Jump) waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Pehoe.

Salto Grande

The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail until until we reach its spectacular lookout point.

Just above Salto Grande

Later, back at Lake Pehoe, we were driven South to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey where we embarked on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Glacier Grey.

Melissa suited up for the boat ride

0nly a small portion of one side of the glacier at waters edge

We were served pisco sours with glacial ice the just pulled from the freezing waters!

After the incredible sight of the glacier up close, we headed back to EcoCamp and got to see one of the endangered species of the park.

The endangered Huemul Deer

Back at EcoCamp we cleaned up and headed to the Core Domes for the typical evenings Pisco Sours, apps, wine and yet again a delicious three course dinner. The views at night of our camp continue to stop us in our tracks as we head tired but happy to bed.

The next day would bring us back to the Southern edge of the park and a trek up into the French Valley. Our fingers were crossed that we get a clear day because we heard the 360 degree views are amazing.

To view photos from EcoCamp Grey Glacier,
click HERE

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = EcoCamp Mirador Las Torres

We chose the Wildlife Safari five day tour at EcoCamp Patagonia. This allowed us to be flexible with our activities in the park. Each evening we had the opportunity to choose from an Easy or Active adventure for the following day.

An introductory video about EcoCamp Patagonia

Next up on our adventure list is an Active trek from the comfort of our EcoCamp dome to Mirador Las Torres (The Towers of Torres).

We got up early and headed out past Hostería Las Torres down in the valley and across a suspension bridge to the trailhead. Our guide, Isi (learn more about her HERE), described the route to the towers as mostly Patagonian Flat "up and down, but with overall elevation gain". That's how they describe the majority of hiking in the park, and it's pretty close to that, but most of the time your hiking up. Isi was an excellent guide, describing the peaks and flora all around us.

Mirador Las Torres Trailhead

The trail begins by ascending 1,200 ft steeply along a river in the Ascencio Valley on the Tower's eastern face. Once we reach the top of this uphill climb, there is a good view down the valley and of Campamento Chileno Refugio (hut). Next we drop 600 ft to the river and reach the refugio. The refugio is one of several run by a few companies in the Torres del Paine park.

Valley View down to Campamento Chileno Refugio

It's another mile or so beyond the refugio, and about 1,200 feet more of climbing to the the base of the towers. The trail can be a bit rough with steep ups and downs, but it's well marked. The last few hundred feet involves boulder hopping up the moraine.  Once we pass a huge house sized boulder there is a spectacular view of the towers rising up majestically before us from the small turquoise glacial lake below.

Mirador Las Torres

The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/ 9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. At the base of the towers we enjoyed a packed lunch as well as an Upslope IPA craft beer that we brought all the way from Colorado. We took a ton of photos as the clouds appeared and disappeared around the peaks. The weather was beautiful for this time of year, so we spent a good 45 minutes enjoying the views and then headed back to EcoCamp. Our trekking crew was a small and young bunch, so we made the round trip in a "record" 6 hours when it typically takes about 8!

Mirador Las Torres

Back at EcoCamp we cleaned up and headed to the Core Domes for the evenings Pisco Sours, apps, wine and three course gourmet dinner. Exhausted from the day we said goodnight to our fellow ecocampers and enjoyed the almost full moon and late twilight on our way back to Suite Dome 6.

The next day would bring even more awe inspiring views from around the park, with less hiking, as we headed South to explore the beauty of Grey Glacier.

To view photos from Ecocamp Mirador Las Torres,
click the image below:

EcoCamp Patagonia - Mirador Las Torres

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = EcoCamp Arrival

We finally arrived at the pinnacle of our trip. EcoCamp Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile!

EcoCamp provides the region’s first fully sustainable accommodation, complete with green technology. You can enjoy guided treks and wildlife excursions by day and share evening meals with new friends, before falling asleep gazing up at the star-filled sky through your dome ceiling. Wake up in the middle of the Patagonian wilderness in a cozy geodesic dome, with a panoramic view of the majestic Torres del Paine, ready to pick up the hiking trail!

From El Calafate, we took about a seven hour van ride with one other couple from Australia. Mike and Wendy were great to chat with during the ride and enjoyed most of the park with us during the next five days. We entered into Chile at a small border crossing in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road. It took some time to explain why Melissa had no incoming stamp in her passport for Argentina and that it was an emergency replacement passport, but we got it sorted out and were on our way again.

Our first view of the park was from a roadside pullout overlooking Lago Sarmiento de Gamboa. It took our breath away, and we were speechless knowing that we would get to play here for the next few days.

Cordillera del Paine

After turning in some paperwork at the entrance to the park we made our way to the domes at EcoCamp. We settled into Suite Dome 6 and then made our way to the Core Domes for an amazing gourmet lunch with Mike and Wendy. From there, we explored around the camp and walked through an interpretive nature trail to learn about some of the flora and fauna we would see during our stay.

Suite Dome 6

Yes ... we are excited to be here!

The evening started with some Pisco Sours and delicious appetizers back in the Core Domes while other guests made their way back in from day hikes around the park. The friendly and knowledgable staff announced the activity choices (one easy and one active option) for the next day and pointed out the locations on a large map before we all headed into the dining dome for dinner. A three course Patagonian fusion meal with Chilean wine is served each evening. After dinner you can relax in the bar with a drink on the sofas or head to the library, the smallest core dome, to look over maps, read a book or chat with other guests.

Amazing apps to go with our Pisco Sours

Dinner ends around 10:30 p.m. or so each evening, which is interesting to get used to along with the fact that it is not even completely dark yet. Twilight hangs around until about 11:30 or so this time of year and this far South. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow so we head to bed, somewhat early, and dream of the towers of Torres del Paine.

To view photos from Ecocamp Arrival,
click the image below:
Ecocamp Arrival

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = El Calafate - Stay 1

After obtaining a new passport for Melissa in Buenos Aires, we were ready to get out of the city again and head South West to El Calafate a town in Patagonia, Argentina (6,540 miles from Denver, as the crow flies). It is situated in the southern border of Lake Argentino, in the southwest part of the Santa Cruz Province. Its name is derived from a little bush with yellow flowers and dark blue berries that is very common in Patagonia: the calafate. Its edible blue-black berries are harvested for jams, but are eaten fresh too — a legend tells that anyone who eats a Calafate berry will be certain to return to Patagonia ... so we did!

El Calafate is an important treking destination as the hub to visit different parts of the Los Glaciares National Park, including the Perito Moreno Glacier, and a jumping off point to the southern parts of the Patagonian Andes.

We checked into the Esplendor Hotel Boutique, toured the downtown area and had an amazing local lamb and fish dinner at Casimiro Bigua. We stayed one night and then headed further South to Ecocamp Patagonia. We'd be back after five days to stay for another two nights in El Calafate.

To view photos from El Calafate - Stay 1,
click the image below:

El Calafate - Stay 1