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Your Mountain is Waiting, So Get on Your Way


“Are you going to be okay?”

It was a popular question I had been getting as of late the past few months. I had been asked it when I quit my job without any plans lined up for what came next. When I had gone through an unexpected and unnerving health scare. When I freed myself from a long-term relationship that came to an unexpected and painful end. When my grandfather passed away and left our family devastated. When I decided to move away and leave the city that I had called home for the past seven years. Yeah, the past year had been a rocky one to say the least. And now, a Chilean man sitting next to me on the airplane was asking me the very same question in broken English.

I thought my excitement was endearing, but clearly my inability to sit still next to him was unnerving and frankly, probably annoying and justified the question. After all, he was about to be stuck with me in close quarters for the next eight hours of our lives on this American Airlines flight.

The truth to the answer to his question, and all of their questions, was yes. I knew I’d be okay, eventually. But how I’d get there I had no idea. All I knew was somehow boarding this plane was one step closer to getting there. And somehow and in some way this trip I was making to the southernmost part of Chile would hold the answers I was seeking.

−−−−−

The first few days in Santiago were a crash course in remembering what it felt like to be away from the familiar. I grew up traveling the country with my family in a C-Class RV. I had spent my junior year of undergrad studying abroad – from Sydney, Australia to Rome, Italy – and I was no stranger to exotic places. In fact, I lived for it. But my passport was a tad rusty to say the least. Two of my biggest passions were writing and traveling, both of which I’d fallen far from the past few years. Now, as far out of my comfort zone as I could possibly get, I ironically felt like I was already finding my way home to my old self.

My older sister, Kelly, came with me on my trip to South America and it was her who helped mastermind our Patagonia trip. As most sisters do, we tend to butt heads sometimes, so I’m sure we were both nervous of how being isolated alone together at the end of the earth was going to go. But the truth was I couldn’t have been more thankful to have her by my side coming off of the year that I had.

After spending a few days with my best friend and her fiancé who lived in Santiago, we were off on our adventure. After taking quite nearly every possible form of public transportation known to mankind, we finally arrived at our destination at the end of the earth - a small refugio located on the famous W trail in Patagonia.

I had never felt so off the grid in my life. Besides a few horses grazing around the refugio and the majestic mountains behind us, that was it. No cell phone service, no internet, no cars, no noise. The quiet was almost overwhelming in its own sense in the most beautiful, calming way. I had to pinch myself as a reminder of where I was.


I was most excited to see the Torres del Paine – or the “Torres” as most people refer to them. I’d been drooling over images of the iconic towers on Instagram, Pinterest, and countless travel blogs for years. Thinking the hike would be similar to US national parks days and that all we’d have to do was walk to the lake, snap a picture, and hike around a bit, I convinced my sister of the same, so we started off on our way.

However, we quickly realized that the “quick walk to the lake” would be more along the lines of an 8-hour hike through the mountains, scaling boulders, and battling intense winds strong enough to blow you off the sides of the cliff. After we decided to take on the challenge, I immediately began having second thoughts. Neither Kelly nor I were in shape. And we were alone, in the middle of nowhere. What if something horrible happened? All in hopes to see a few rocks? There wouldn’t be access to medical facilities or cell phones to call 911. But Kelly wouldn’t let us turn back – she knew how much it meant to me to see the Torres and pushed us on. After always giving my sister a hard time about having a low pain tolerance and being a wimp, I was inspired by her determination and we pushed on.

And even though it was just the two of us, we were not alone. We ran into our roommates from the refugio – a set of Canadian twin geologists – on our hike. They were quite the characters, trekking around South America for months and without a care in the world and approached any task before them with a “right on” attitude. We also came across our other roommate, an energetic, thrill-seeking Australian who came to this continent by himself and had just decided to hike the W a few days ago on a whim. Their energy was contagious. Even after only spending a few short days together, I think of them as our Patagonia family. No one judged each other. No one cared about anyone’s employment status, where they came from, or what was ahead. All of us came here for different reasons but yet the same – to live, to experience something truly magical that is Patagonia.

After scaling the last few boulders, we finally made it to the top. And those “rocks” I questioned earlier were anything but just that. With the sun shining brightly on them, they were as whimsical, as perfect as I had envisioned. As I took in their beauty, I couldn’t help but smile. We made it. I had smiled for longer than I had in a long time and hugged my big sister. I was okay. Maybe even more than okay.

Guest Writer: Kim R. is the author of the popular travel blog, From The Road I’m On, which The Adventure Tribune rated as one of the best adventure blogs of the summer. She’s a girl obsessed with music, running, and artsy street murals; sharing stories one travel adventure at a time.
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