By: T.C. Worley
This morning as I awoke from a hard sleep, I stepped from my tent home next to a rushing creek, stretched arms wide and squinted into the sun. Another perfect day for a race in Patagonia! I could see several teams in the transition area, preparing to climb out of the valley and towards a booming waterfall 200 meters (more than 600 ft) above the valley. After a breakfast of powdered coffee and the whitest bread I’ve ever seen—a Chilean norm, I quickly packed my gear, assembled a group of people to hike with and headed for the waterfall. It would be almost 3 hours before we bushwhacked, clawed and squirmed our way to the top.
From the top, the view was absolutely—no, seriously, absolutely breathtaking! My hiking partners and I passed time by soaking-in and photographing jaw-dropping scenery for the entire afternoon. Five hours would pass before we would see a team. Just before leaving (in hopes of making it down before dark) I yelled down the hill to see if anyone was coming up. I heard a voice I recognized answer back—amazingly, I had found Team Gear Junkie! We trekked together for a bit, passing through an area of more dead and twisted trees. Spirits were good, jokes and jabs were plentiful. And like other teams I have spoken to, they were every bit as blown away by the beauty of the place as I was, despite the fatigue of over 36 hours of racing.
We hiked off the hill by headlamp and returned to camp just in time to make it to a barbeque. A local land owner had kindly cooked a lamb over an open fire. He carved me a chunk and someone handed me a plastic cup full of delicious, red, Chilean wine. This day lands squarely in my top five best days ever. As I headed to bed around midnight, several more teams trudged into the checkpoint, trail-worn and hungry. They tented for a few short hours of sleep before heading up the hill to pursue the previous teams.
As I look back on my day I realized this: One of the more simple, yet amazing things about this part of the world is that I did not see one single piece of trash, or any other sign of human presence other than the footprints of racers ahead of me. Also, my feet may well have fallen where no human foot has before. Think about that for a second. Guanaco feet are the only ones to really leave lasting marks in the soft earth. This place is so precious—and may it always be.
For more images and race details visit:
Wenger Patagonian Expediton Race