We got back to El Calafate and checked in to our cosy hostel. Our coach to Ushuaia wasn't for a couple of days so we spent some time in the hostel working out our travel finances, I relished having some time to do some drawing.
The journey to Ushuaia was a tricky one. Our coach was leaving at 3AM, we managed to stay in the hostel till pretty late before being kicked out at about midnight. We sleepily walked down the hill to the coach station and waited to board. We had a four hour trip to Rio Gallegos then a two hour wait. More hours on the coach followed then a border crossing, a ferry, another border crossing and more hours on the coach until we finally reached the so called 'end of the world' Ushuaia after sunset.
On our first day in the town we went for a wander and took some photographs of the snowcapped mountains that sit behind the town. The mountains, colourful houses and boats really reminded me of Reykjavik in Iceland. After lunch we made our way to a nearby glacier for a walk. It was a sunny day but the wind and cold temperatures meant that coats were definitely required. I found the walk to be really quite tough, a combination of factors meant that I had no belief in myself and urged Craig to carry on without me. After a few tears and some encouragement I began to walk again and step by step made progress up the steep trail. Just as we reached the end point of the walk, high on a ridge the weather closed in and it started to snow. We had an obscured view of the glacier and Ushuaia thanks to the blizzard conditions but it certainly made for an interesting sight. After taking a few snaps we headed back down and couldn't believe how deep the snow had got in such a short space of time. Luckily we wear heavy duty waterproof walking boots and we had lots of layers on so we felt fairly prepared for the weather. The snow dusted the trees and made for a magical landscape, I'd have liked to have stayed longer admiring the frosted surroundings but the snow was really whipping at our faces and piling on our rucksacks.
We got to the bottom and dusted ourselves off, we treated ourselves to a much deserved hot chocolate at the refuge while our things dried off.
The following day we decided to do a walk to Laguna Esmeralda as we got up a little too late to do Tierra del Fuego as we had planned. We took a jeep to the start of the walk with four other backpackers, all hailing from Israel. We arrived at the start of the walk. The snow was thick, our driver decided to do doughnuts just as he was about to drop us off, skidding around on the ice was exhilarating to say the least! We all decided to walk together and it was so much fun, it was only the second time that the girls from Israel had seen snow so they were extremely excited which was contagious. We walked through the snowy forest being careful not to slip and made it to an open bit of ground. Everything was white and most of the snow was untouched, just a path of footprints revealed the trail. We made it to the lake after a couple of hours walking in the cold, after a very quick lunch perched on a branch we hastily walked back as the cold was starting to chill us to our bones. Conversation flowed, we discussed film and our futures, the compulsory military service that all Israeli's must complete and agreed on hot chocolates at the end of the walk.
At the refuge we played with husky puppies and drank the sweetest and thickest hot chocolates before our driver collected us.
November 11th; Parque National Tierra del Fuego. I'd been looking forward to walking in this famous national park for a long time. We woke early and caught a bus to the park, after paying the park fee we started our walk. It was a drizzly day but it soon brightened up as we got going. We walked along the waters edge, through forest and with Beagle Channel and mountain views. The colours in the landscape reminded me of an autumnal day in my home county of Hampshire, oranges and browns.
For lunch we sat on a branch and ate our sandwiches, it was so quiet beneath the trees. The trail meandered on to a pebble beach and then steeply up through the trees again, I felt a surge of pride as I was able to keep going up the steep track. On so many occasions on this trip I've felt inadequate, too unfit and not prepared enough. For the first time in a long time I felt like I could do this and I did, I walked through the ache in my legs and through the breathlessness and reached the finish point.
Next stop: Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park.
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