Tag Archives: patagonia

Gratitude. part dos

27 Jan

Last week when I wrote about making a list of what I am grateful for in this past year, a few folks asked about that list.  So — here is a portion of that list, in no particular order (the numbers are there just because I like lists, not because of priority).

38 things I am grateful for:

1.  My mom and dad for encouraging me and supporting me to follow my dreams, accepting that my path is not as straight as others.  Though it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, I am ever so thankful for their inspiration, acceptance and support.

2.  Katherine – my buddy in adventures.  We have skied the Chic Chocs, bed down in the whites, climbed some pretty high mountains and have hiked countless number of miles together.  I feel lucky to have a friend who will go on such adventures with me – and cannot wait to plan the next one!

katherine and I on top of mt. whitney

katherine and I on top of mt. whitney

3.  My job.  I do work that I care about, work that I believe makes the world a better place.  Work that makes me think and pushes me to be my best self.

4.  My mentors.  I am lucky to have some pretty great mentors, people who are looking out for me, who have given me guidance along the way and have inspired me in my work.  Thanks Steve, Julie H., Sue, Lily and Meg (among others).

5.  India – for reminding me of the goodness of people and the beauty of humanity and that, ultimately, the world is a good place full of good people.

Couldn't speak any common language, but we could understand enough

Couldn’t speak any common language, but we could understand enough

6.  Hope.  Ultimately, I am full of hope, even when I try to hide that hope.  Hope makes us vulnerable.  It makes us trust.  It opens us up.  Sometimes all that is scary – but as much as it scares me, I cannot deny that is who I am.

7.  Climbing, trekking, skiing, backpacking, hiking, walking – being outside and active (and not hurt – unlike right now…..  which I hate.  I hate being hurt.  oh, wait – wrong list).

8.  Mountains – for keeping me dreaming.

one of the many, many mountains i dream of climbing

one of the many, many mountains i dream of climbing

9.  My brother.  We’re just under two years apart, went to the same school — all the way to college – together.  Now we live on different sides of the country, but every time we get together we laugh and have fun.  But, can’t leave out my other brother who is much younger, but is well on his way to leading an interesting life himself.

10. My bestest girlfriends.  I am beyond lucky that I have an amazing group of girl friends.  Yogatara, Jessica, heather, susan, cynthia, tracy, smak, cara, meggy, jessica.  These women make me laugh, feed my soul, listen to me complain, let me cry on their shoulders and tell me to shut up when I need to hear that.

weekend in the berkshires

weekend in the berkshires – look how much we love hanging out with each other!

11.  Bucket lists.  Biking around the world?  Climbing a mountain over 20,000 feet?  Living in another country?  Becoming fluent in spanish?  Being in Thailand for a sky lantern festival?  Trekking in remote Nepal?  Yes, don’t mind if I do.

12.  Laughter.  The world keeps me endlessly amused.  I like to laugh – often and loud.  In fact, one of my students use to make fun of my laugh because it was so loud.  awesome.  keep it coming.

13.  Books.  Fiction, specifically.  And lots of it.

14.  Patagonia – for make me yearn for wild places.  Patagonia – will you marry me?

i am in love….

15.  Peru – for offering me lessons when I needed them.  For its beautiful people, its passion, its landscape, its rich history.  I might cheat on patagonia for peru.

16.  The universe – what a grand, amazing world this is conspiring each and every day to remind me how great it is.

17.  My journey.  As unpredictable as it has been, as winding, and messy and twisty it is, what a great journey it has been.

18.  Surprises and magic.  Last year when I was traveling – each thing that happened, that seemed wrong and bad — ultimately it would all turn out to be ok, even great.


19.  Open heart.  See #6.  Open heart and hope and vulnerability — all tied up.  And I am ever thankful that I am on this journey to keep my heart open (with varying success along the way).

20.  Wisdom.  As I get older, the more wisdom I get.  I have a long way to go, but it is one thing about getting older that I love.

There’s more.  Another 18 on the list (whoa, that makes me feel old), but you get the idea…..

Thanks world.

What I miss….

7 Jun

I have been back in the states for a little over a month now.  In some ways, my life has slowed down a lot.  I go to the same place for work every day, I see my old friends.  I just got my car back.  I do ‘normal’ life things — like get my car inspected.  But at the same time, I am still in flux.  Still very much in transition – sleeping on an air mattress with my sleeping bag as a blanket.  Still unsure of where I will go beyond July 27th.  Still unsure of what I want.

But one thing is clear to me…  I know what I miss.  So, I thought I would put together a little list of what I miss….

sunset in southern india

I miss:

  • the taxis everywhere honking at me (except when i need them) – all I can think is – don’t you think that I would wave you down if I needed you?
  • freshly squeezed juice
  • buses with someone yelling out of them telling you where they are going
  • busy markets
  • street food – pork, tucanos and salteñas with hot sauce, empanadas

street food!

  • the ability to buy any movie on the street
  • markets that you can buy just about anything at (fresh veggies, fresh fruit, meat)
  • strangers wishing me ‘provecho‘ in restaurants
  • south american couples – young and old – holding hands, kissing in plazas
  • meeting strangers and within hours or days, feeling that they were old friends
  • being called mamie or mamacita in the markets where i bought my daily avocados and mangos
  • women walking down the street breastfeeding (ok, that was just SA)
  • the vivid colors of saris

girls on a field trip in southern india

  • everyone around me having dark hair and dark eyes
  • staying out until 4 in the morning, dancing at a club
  • meeting strangers
  • the mix of spices unfolding in my mouth
  • the smell of India
  • riding the trains, buses, rickshaws, motos
  • being on a train and hearing ‘chai, chai, chai’
  • mountains, sunsets, beaches, high altitude landscapes
  • the constant awareness of history and religion and spirituality

the eyes of buddha

  • fresh air and being outside every day
  • hearing a foreign language and trying to guess at context
  • learning to speak another language and get my needs met
  • walking everywhere
  • trekking
  • the Andes, Patagonia, Himalayas

mountains near Huaraz

and then there is the other stuff..   the stuff that is harder to find, harder to name.

I miss writing and reading every day.  I miss having the time to think and reflect and write.  I miss having the freedom to come and go as it suits me.  I miss people watching.  I miss what it feels like to wake up and think… huh, I wonder what I will do today? I miss not having a schedule.  I miss adventure.  I miss being by myself – but the prospect of not being by myself every day.  I miss the possibilities of saying ‘yes’.  I miss trusting that everything will work  out.  I miss freedom.  And choice.  And travel.

I miss feeling like I am exactly where I am suppose to be.

Big mountains, big glaciers, big winds

18 Jan

Patagonia is sick.  There is really nothing else to say about it. But I will.

Big mountains, big glaciers and big winds.  Patagonia is just big.  Beth and I just got back from a fairly epic 5 day trek that involved lots of route finding, crossing freezing cold streams and a glacier, some high passes with strong winds that almost blew us over, and some life lessons.

beth and i with the mountains in the background

Lesson #1:  Don’t blindly listen to others.

The second morning of our trek was our first real challenge – crossing the Humel River, which incidentally comes straight from the glacier hanging right above it.  To say that it is cold would be an understatement.  As you might imagine water coming fresh off of a huge icecube would be.  We arrived at the stream early, hoping for the river to be at its lowest.  As soon as we arrrived, a man ran over to the bank across from us and told us that there was better crossing below.  Instead of scouting the river, we headed downstream as he instructed and tried several times to cross the river.  To the point where I was worried about hypothermia.  To the point where Beth and I got worried that we would not be able to keep going.  The river was high and fast.  After hopping around, putting on almost all my upper layers, after frantically trying to rewarm our toes – at that point we finally scouted the river and found a good place to cross.  Lesson learned — sure, take advice of others, but also trust what you know.

glacier feeding into the lake — as you might imagine, it was cold!

Lesson #2:  Don’t take the easy way out.

On day 3 of our trek, we crossed our second pass.  It was a beautiful day and we contoured along the hillside overlooking the Patagonia icefield.  The day before we had a rest day at a beautiful lake and did an afternoon hike to a look out over the icefield which was incredibly windy, but incredibly beautiful.  In any case, we finally arrived at the top of the pass, found some shelter from the wind and had a snack break.  We looked around and figured that the narrow pass through the rocks must be the way down.  It seemed that there was a path, there were plenty of other footprints.  And even though it got really steep and seemed to be a drainage – we figured we were going the right way.  Soon, we realized just how wrong we were.

All of a sudden, the drainage got narrower and steeper.  We both expressed concern to each other, but we were still seeing footsteps.  And, when we got our permit, the women told us about a very steep section that had a rope to aid with the descent.  So, we continued on.  When I say steep, I mean — if one of us had taken a fall, death would be certain when you slipped down the screen field and over the cliff into the lake below (but such a great view of the glacier meeting the lake).  When the scree slope ended at the cliffs, we realized we needed to turn around, climb back up the 1000 feet we had just come down and look for the right way down.  Needless to say, it was tough.  Though I am not sure I have ever climbed that fast.  we did not take a break until we reached the top and found the real trail.

this is the view down the cliff — where certain death would have occured had one of us fallen

One of us had said on the way down….  strange that the trail follows a drainage….  yeah.  funny, because it is not a trail!  trust your instincts!

Lesson #3:  Always consult your resources.

On day 5, after camping on the lake in view of the glacier and listening to the glacier break off during the night, we thought we had an easy day in front of us.  Ha.

Basically, we had to contour along the shoreline in order to reach the farside of the lake (and yet another river crossing).  There were a few problems with this though — one, patagonia is full of prickly plants.  And by prickly, i mean sharp thorns.  So, frequent thorns and prickly plants were in our pants and hands and trekking poles.  We did not talk much – as it was hot and hard work — other than exclamations of pain here and there.  And two — the path was hard to follow — we frequently lost it and when we found it, we weren’t sure if that was the path or just a cow trail.

Finally, when we were getting close, we could see the end of the trail — so we started down – figuring we could make it down to the flat ground (we were contouring along a steep slope).  We did all this without looking at our map – which would have told us that we did not descend until we reached the river – which was a long ways away….  up and over.  So, once again, we had to retrace our steps.  Lesson learned — consult your resources if you have them!

one of the glaciers!
sunrise over the patagonia icefield
yay patagonia icefield!

Off to see glaciers and mountains

10 Jan

Tomorrow Beth and I will visit the glacier Perito Morreno, which is here in El Calafate.  From what I hear — it is huge and amazing.  i am ready to be awed.

following that day trip (it is about an hour and a half bus ride each way), we will take a 3 hour bus ride to El Chalten to start a trek on wednesday — this will be a 5 day, 4 night trek that brings us up near ice fields with hopefully some amazing glacier views within the Fitz Roy Range.  It is supposed to be amazing.  Looking over the map today during our planning session, i got so excited for it.

Following our trek, we will do another day trip (or possibly an overnight) but we are constrained by trying to get to Mendoza on the 22nd to meet Mike to prepare for Aconcagua.  And, well, it is a 50 hour bus ride to get up there…..  so, it takes a bit of planning.

I already know i want to stay in Patagonia a lot longer than I will be here.  I will have to decide after Aconcagua whether I will come back or not (but buses here are SUPER expensive…  but then again, it is Patagonia…  when am i going to come back?).  Or maybe just keep heading north to see the rest of the Andes.  Who knows.

But what I do know is…  I am so excited to see the Andes tomorrow and the Fitz Roy range.  I look forward to sharing soon.

Take care friends — aurora

p.s. — if you want to see more (or see all our gear) — here is my friend Beth’s blog:  http://wildmountains.wordpress.com/