Patagonia is a special place. You’re subject to the whims of the weather and the earth’s cryptic system. The earth, the rocks, the clouds, and the water all know that humans are powerless in their midst, and they like to capitalize on this. Don’t look for compassion in nature because it won’t be found here.
The vast expanses of Patagonia make distances lose meaning, reduced to trivial numbers. Driving towards a mountain for half an hour won’t necessarily make it seem closer. For reference, look to the sky. The clouds seem to be fixed in place just like the mountains they protect. The panorama will inch along with you, until you reach the base of the mountain.
The whole trek through Torres del Paine takes perseverance; many consider the park a test, a measurement of mental strength and will power. We completed the hike and reached our camping ground at dusk believing that Pachamama had thrown at us everything that She could. We woke up with our tent pressed flat against our noses as the measly material drooped with the weight of heavy fresh snow. The blanket hid the twisted paths, it covered the ice-ridden ledges, and make the unconsolidated rockslide descent appear flat and peaceful. The leader would yell where to step and we collectively decided on the path through the mountain’s forests. In retrospect, I’m not sure how we did it.
We navigated our way through the wood, finally found the end, and stood silently on the edge of the mountain. What used to be a landscape of yellows, browns, and blue only a few hours before was now a painting of gray of all shades, white, and black lines and accents. A black and white photograph in real life. As soon as we reached flat ground, we all went our own pace. Seven kilometers separated us and our ride home. All I could hear was the wind and my own rapid breaths. At one point, I stood still for ten minutes as hundreds of guanaco crossed the road, jumping daintily over the wide crevasses. I was glad I was alone.
The weather cleared up but the ice and snow remained; a huge storm hit hundreds of kilometers in every direction. We returned to snow-covered Puerto Natales with Patagonia’s enormity looming over us.
“The sea has neither reason nor pity” – Chekhov