“Pic of the Week”, April 28, 2017: Arrival at Torres del Paine National Park

11 Arrival at Tores del Paine (9)

We approached Torres del Paine National Park from the east, entering Chile from Argentina.  Many people drive down the Chilean coast and enter the park from the west, so their perspective would be a little different than ours.

Our trip took us through large stretches of hilly and uninhabited grasslands (the pampas).  The first views of the National Park are among the most memorable of any mountain region I’ve ever visited (and I’ve seen many in my days).   Torres is a popular tourist destination, with good reason. Among its most iconic sites are the 3 granite towers from which Torres del Paine derives its name.

 

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Nowhere is a Place. Visiting Patgonia, 5) Viedma Glacier, Argentina

Viedma Glacier, El Chaltan 066

Situated close to the small Argentinean town of El Chalten is Lake Viedma, a large glacial lake.  You can take a boat tour to visit the largest glacier in the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, the Viedma Glacier, from a dock on the northwestern shore of the lake, near El Chalten (which you can reach by bus from town).

The following overview photo, courtesy of NASA, will help orient you a little better.  Viedma Lake is obvious, as is the Patagonian Icefield.  The Viedma Glacier is at 12 o’clock in this photo (actually direction is west).  The boat launch is in the little thumb at the top right of the lake at about one o’clock.  El Chalten is in a non-snow …

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Nowhere is a Place. Visiting Patgonia, 4) El Chalten, Argentina

22 El Chalten 2014 (186)

Our next stop in Patagonia is the small town of El Chaltén in Argentina.  This town rests in the rain shadow of the massive spires of the Patagonian Andes and is a dry, windy and cool place.

The region around El Chaltén is part of Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is very remote.  It is usually reached by taking the bus or driving from El Calafate some 220 km to the south, El Calafate itself a remote town which we’ve previously discussed here.

The town resides in a glaciated valley adjoining the Rio de las Vueltas. The most dramatic aspect of El Chaltén is the beautiful mountains that frame it to the west, including the amazingly steep and narrow spire …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 18, 2015: The Fitz Roy Massif, El Chalten

03 El Chalten 2014 (224)

For many years I’d wanted to see one of the most famous peaks in the world with my own eyes, namely the Fitz Roy Massif (aka Mount Fitz Roy or Cerro Fitz Roy).  In fact, seeing the mountains of Patagonia was my greatest motivation for visiting the southern reaches of South America.

This mountain is very near that small Argentinian town of El Chaltén, which abuts the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.  The Massif is situated around the poorly defined (and often disputed) border between Argentina and Chile, although the Argentinians claim it as theirs.  The mountain was named in honor of the famous captain by Argentine explorer, Francisco Moreno, in 1877.  Captain Fitz Roy and his ship, the HMS Beagle, traveled extensively around and …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

Signs of Aspen

01 Signs of Aspen

The small town of Aspen is a beautiful if somewhat unusual place to visit. The gorgeous mountain setting is something you’d never tire of, but the town is quirky.  It’s a blend of hippy, cowboy, the frontier, and recently a lot of Hollywood (I don’t believe I’ve ever driven by an airport with more private jets parked in it than Aspen airport).  Aspen’s transformed itself from being a rather simple mountain town to an upscale trendy resort.

The town is well know for it’s great winter skiing and in the summer has become a popular family vacation destination.  It’s got excellent restaurants, all types of shops, and lots of outdoor activities.  For me it’s a fun day-trip destination.

Since I’ve started collecting …

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Nowhere is a Place: Visiting Patagonia, 3) Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Argentina, Perito Merino Glacier 128

Our adventure in Patagonia is just beginning!  We’re going to start visiting and exploring those places people travel thousands of miles to see.  El Calafate may be a pretty little town but no one comes to Patagonia just to see it.  They come here to experience the magnificent landscapes of the Andes, the extensive Patagonian ice-fields, and the vast barren steppe.  The main Patagonian attraction close to El Calafate is the Perito Merino Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Glaciares National Park entrance is about an hour’s drive west of El Calafate .   You’ll drive mostly near the shore of Lago Argentino, the majestic Andes coming ever nearer.  We saw …

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.All Trips / North America / Oregon / Pacific Northwest / Washington

The Amazing Columbia River Gorge!

Columbia River 3-2006 020  Oneonta Gorge  Beacon Rock in distance.

One of the most scenic road trips anywhere in the world is on the Oregon side of the Gorge, on the Columbia River Highway (I-84), between Portland and the Dalles.  Besides a smooth drive on the freeway, an excellent diversion here is to head up the old Historic Columbia River Highway, a narrow road that twists its way through the mountains and cliffs, past dozens of waterfalls, including the beautiful 620-foot (190 m)  Multnomah Falls.

The Columbia River is one of North America’s longest, at 1200 miles (1930 km) long, starting in southeastern British Columbia, Canada.  The Columbia River Gorge was carved by glacial floods (especially the Missoula Flood) thousands of years ago and is the only sea-level passage through the Cascade Mountain range.  …

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.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

Magnificent Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

010a Takkakaw Falls 07-2014

There are hundreds of amazing places in the Canadian Rockies.  Beautiful lakes and rivers, wonderful mountain peaks and breath-taking vistas from high alpine meadows.  Yoho National Park, in eastern British Columbia, straddles the continental divide on Alberta’s border and not only is a place of great beauty but geologic significance as it is home to the legendary Burgess Shale Formation.  Yoho derives its name (not from a Johnny Depp pirate song but) from the Cree language, meaning “Awe and Wonder”.

The crown gem of this beautiful area, in my humble opinion, is Takakkaw Falls which thunders as it pours into the Yoho Valley not unlike the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley.  Takakkaw Falls has a total drop of 384m (1260 …

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