Published: March 6th 2009March 5th 2009
Where was I - oh yeah, getting into Ushuaia from El Chalten - it was sleeping tablets all round as I think this was the 37 hour bus trip passing out of Argentina, into Chile and back into Argentina again - a total mare of customs and immigration - muchos stamps on my 5 page temporary passport! Anyhoo - Tom and Hannah were off to a B&B and I'd arranged to meet Celine at the Irish Pub - having spent 37 hours on the bus and getting to know half the occupants they were all invited too. The scenery down through Patagonia is amazing - its soo flat in places that you imagine you can see the curvature of the earth in the distance out both sides of the bus - amazing, and the sunsets are..well..hard to describe :) The end of the bus ride couldn't come too soon. Once I got into Ushuaia the first taxi was boarded and bags were flung in the door of the hostel and the taxi used for the return trip to the pub. (The recommendation for the hostel from fellow travelers hadn’t mentioned thee fact that it was on the outskirts of town and
my sheer laziness in moving places had me walking 20 minutes up the hill for the next two weeks or so :) Any into the pub and met up with a load of folks, Tom and Hannah, Celine and? And Sam and Lionel. It being an Irish pub the craic was mighty and was followed up by clubbing til 6. The plan for the next day was to head around town and see if we couldn't get on a boat to the Antarctic - I missed my appointment with T & H for 11 by 15 minutes - shocking impatience but I remembered that they had talked about going to church so when I found it just by accident I popped in and found it just as the mass was starting. It's a lot more of a happy clappy affair than at home with dance moves in the pews which I got right into :) Anyhoo we strolled around town, hooked up with Sam and ate some penguins in a cool cafe and found ourselves an agency run by the helpful Daniela who went about trying to get me, T&H on a boat to the Antarctic - Our first option
was for the 23rd of Jan which was a bit of a wait but we decided to go for it filling up the intervening period with trekking. It was a few days of anxious waiting before we found we couldn't get on it but plan B was for the Polar circle quest on the Academik Sergei Babilov on the 25th which we heard about shortly afterwards that we had secured a triple cabin. Once the trip was paid for Tom owned up to a medical problem involving wind and Hannah mentioned the possibility of getting Tom to check for monsters under the bed in the middle of the night :) I was fine with this as they would have to put up with me for a fortnight in close quarters and the list of character imperfections and dubious personal habits were too numerous to mention. So then we were free to get out of Ushuaia for a bit. Utah’s idea of fun is to put on all their waterproof gear and trek up the mountains in the rain so after purchasing a three man tent for myself I was off up with them, minus the water proof gear and loaded
down with a pile of food. The going was wet and mucky but the company was good - the lads didn't seem to be put off by my smoke breaks :) The tent I bought didn't come with a picture or instructions so it was like a lucky bag - jokes about phallus shaped tents were mentioned but fortunately it was a regular dome (with a porch coos I is posh) Anyhoo, despite it being in Tierro del Fuego National Park we decided to light a fire as we were frozen and wet and the likelihood of the sodden surrounds catching fire were negligible Half the stones from the fire ended up in my socks and boots to dry them out. The tow lads were properly equipped with their down sleeping bags and thermarest mats while I was cursing myself fornot taking up Henry’s kind offer to buy me a better sleeping bag than the one he was buying me that was useful at minus temperatures but I hadn't thought I would be a silly as to camp in such conditions (Even I don't know me well!) Add to that the fact that I was unaware that me sleeping mat
had a this side up mode of use which I got wrong, the night was spent gradually putting on every stitch of clothes had brought with me - over the next month I got very used to sleeping with my Russian hat on :) The next day we were off up the highest part of the trek through a bit of a blizzard through the Passé de Obeja, where Han proved to be a star by taking out o hip flask of whisky at the top marker. The scenery was dusted with a covering of snow and the views were just stunning. Finding the nihgts campsite was a bit of a trial but we persevered down gullies and through crumbling forests to find a spot that wasn't to boggy. The lad’s tent had leaked the night before so we spent a cozy night with three of us in mine. I once again managed to dry all the ground under me but it was better than the previous night. The next days hike was a long one but we managed it with a bit more snow and wind but the sun made an appearance at the end which was a boost.
All in all it was good introduction to treking with a pack and Toms help with telling me how a pack is worn properly made it a hell of a lot easier than the half assed way I was going about it.
Following this trek the two lads departed deeper into the Tierro Del Fuego and I chilled to recover from it. Nights out in the Dublin continued along with a failed attempt to view beavers on a 45 km bike ride - the buggers are nocturnal and I wasn't going to hang around for 5 hours to see them. I did however see a fox and their damns (the beavers not the foxes:) The end of the stay in Ushuaia culminated in two 6am nights out prior to the trip to Antactica.
There are more photos below