Sunday, April 27, 2008

I can´t resist

I just can´t resist, it is chilly in Chile. At least down south. The bro and I are in a town called Pucon. It´s kind of the epicenter for outdoor pursuits. Almost every business in town is a combination Internet cafe and guide service. Most of the guided trips are for fishing, climbing, rafting, hot springs, biking, caving, and my personal favorite the ¨hidrospeed.¨ The hidrospeed is described as a ¨water sleigh¨that you ride down churning rivers. Basically it is a foam board of sorts three or four feet long and a couple wide that you lay on with your upper body. Your lower body hangs off the back and you wear fins. You then ride this thing down rapids. We are actively looking into going on this guided trip if for no other reason that it sounds so random and I want to say that I´ve been on a ¨water sleigh.¨ We are also planning on ascending to the top of the local volcano Villarico with Klaus the German. We´ve heard that there may be liquid hot magma at the top. Fishing may also be on the docket.

The first 10 days here have been good. The main event was our 8 day trek in Torres del Paine national park. We attempted to do a trail called the ¨Circuit.¨ The trail was officially closed, but that doesn´t really mean much around here. We got three days into it but were then unable to make it over the pass to the other part of the trail. The snow was waist deep, it was raining, and our progress was so slow that we had to turn back. Fortunately we found a shack at one of the closed campground with a fireplace in it made out of an old 55 gallon drum. We managed to put the chimney back together and light a fire so that we could dry out in relative comfort rather than be in the tent. We then headed the 2 days back toward the trailhead and did a great day hike on day 7 to the Towers, or Torres. There was apparently a flash flood in the lower part of the park while we were attempting to cross the pass. So, we had to cross lots of engorged streams that had washed out their small foot bridges. We made if over these with little problem outside of wet boots. Overall we accomlished our goal of getting out for a good backpacking trip and having a true Patagonian experience (meaning intense weather of all sorts...lots of rain, snow, sleet, really strong winds, and a little sun)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The old and the new

As I type, it is the calm before the storm. I'm enjoying some CO sunshine on the back porch of my and and uncle's house in D-town. The birds are chirping and the trees are budding. I'm packed and ready to head to Chile. I've made my list and checked it more than twice. If I've forgotten anything it must be an insubstantial item like toothpaste. Tomorrow the storm starts. I fly out at 3ish to Atlanta from whence I depart overnight to Santiago. From there the trip continues south for several more hours on a plane and finally a bus to end the trip approximately 28 hours after I left. That thought is a little overwhelming.

A couple good distractions have kept my mind from the upcoming marathon of travel. One is new and one is old.

The New: The Raconteurs just released a new album called Consolers of the Lonely. Jack White continues to be his versatile, eclectic musical self and the album has some good new songs. There are a few grating moments that I think will grow in appeal over time as good music often does. The i-pod is getting rested up for a marathon as well.

The Old: Star Wars Episodes V and VI were on the TV last night. It has been some time since I've had the pleasure of sitting down and watching them. Once again they proved to weather the test of time and leave me appreciating their greatness. Han Solo is still a badass, Luke still manages to make you like him despite is wining, Lando is still the smoothest operator around, Chewie still makes a great sidekick, and Leia's hair still rocks. Quality story and believable acting...what a novel combination.

Off I go to a land far, far away...

Monday, April 07, 2008


I've finally managed to muster the gumption to make a blog post and upload some pics to flickr. Finally. I'm crediting the emergence of spring's rejuvenating warmth and cheer as the goad that has awoke me from blogging hibernation. The last few weeks have been full.

I finished my volunteer time at Mt. Rushmore to great thanks and appreciative murmurs from supervisors and colleagues. I believe that the decision to volunteer has paid off and will continue to do so. The big wigs at Mt. R. were very supportive of my efforts and pledged to help throw their weight behind my attempts to break into permanent status. I even received a medal of sorts from the biggest of the big wigs.

Despite the accolades from the many bosses I had at Mt. R., the best confirmation of the benefits of volunteering I had came in the form of a job offer from none other than Yellowstone National Park. The position is seasonal still, but it is based in Mammoth Hot Springs at the northern entrance to the park. The combination of Yellowstone and Mammoth is basically my career version of a wet dream so I'm quite happy to be making it a reality. It could only be one-upped by a permanent job there. I'll be leading guided hikes, giving talks, and working at the visitor center. I have a growing list in my head of all the hikes I want to do and hatches that I want to fish. And there's a certain place called the K-Bar that has a pool table that is calling my name.

I'm in Denver as I write this post, holding the fort down at an aunt and uncle's house while they travel abroad. Their house is a convenient embarking point for several upcoming journeys. Tomorrow I am heading to Moab, Utah for some sun and biking. Upon my return to Denver I am preparing for my departure to Chile on the 14. I also just returned from a visit to cousins M and G in Seattle. G and I made a backcountry ski trip into the Cascades. The trip featured great scenery, great snow and weather conditions, a long trudge into camp pulling a sled, and gourmet eating backcountry style made possible by the sled. I was also given a fantastic tour of Seattle that included gourmet cupcakes, the San Juan islands, sushi, the Pike Place Market, Ballard, and of course some good coffee. As Another Kind of Nerd put it "Washington's cool."

I'll now return to planning and looking forward to Chile.