Friday, March 23, 2012

A minor setback

After two nights at Grey Lake, our plan was to wind our way north through the park and spend a few days in the parking lot at Hotel Torres Del Paine where we are hoping the weather will hold for us to hike to the torres. The road from Lake Grey goes east to a bridge crossing Lago Toro and then north which gave fabulous views of the Paine Massif, an eastern spur of the Andes of which both the Cuernos and the Torres del Paine are a part of. Small valleys separate the spectacular granite spires that dominate the landscape. On our left we pass the gorgeous blue waters of Lake Pehoe which has two waterfalls at each end: Salto Chico which connects Lake Pehoe to Lake Toro at the south end and Salto Grande which drains Lake Nordenskjold into Lake Pehoe in the north. Although we did not take the trail to Salto Grande, we did stop at the mirador and get some photos. It was just after we started up the mountain leaving Lake Pehoe to round Lake Nordenskjold that our setback started. The radiator which we had had repaired in Punta Arenas started leaking again and with steam coming from under the hood we made it to the top of the hill before pulling over. With the ever present Patagonian wind buffeting the motorhome, Tom pulls on his hat and jacket to check it out. He comes back inside, furious. The repair had obviously not been done correctly, his guess was that it was never pressure tested and now we were leaking fluid again. We get out the map of the park and start making another plan. We need to get back to a town and Puerto Natales is the closest, about 75 mile and half of that on the gravel trails. Thank God the motorhome has a 40 gallon water tank which is close to being full. As I fill some containers, Tom gets back out and begins to top up the radiator. He estimates that we will need to stop about every 15 minutes to check and re-fill. At least with all the stops, we got some great views of Lake Nordenskjold which is a pretty azure blue and the Rio Paine which lived up to its name and was a bright blue under the sunlight. We are a little depressed because we don’t want to miss seeing the torres but the motorhome takes precedence. Now we will have to come back into the park on our way to Argentina and Los Glaciares National Park and pay the rather steep entrance fee again in order to see them. That and we lose another few precious days of summer, autumn is approaching and we are still far south of where we wanted to be with April approaching. Such is the “glamorous” life on the road. Anyone who travels knows of these setbacks and how frustrating it can be but it is part of the experience. It takes us 2 and a half hour to get to Puerto Natales and we arrive back at Camping Josmar in time for dinner. After walking Winston and getting settled, we decide to eat at a nearby restaurant as we don’t feel like cooking. It is St. Patrick’s Day but there is no corned beef and cabbage. Tom orders the king crab (centolla) for which Puerto Natales is famous and I the veal chops which were really good and Winston gets the bones. We then Skype our family and kids and bring everyone up to speed with our latest news. Monday we will find a mechanic who can help with the radiator and hopefully we will be back on the road by Tuesday or Wednesday.

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