Day 279: Hiking Chile’s channels

Hiking in the hills but Mediterranean food treasures now depleted

Day 279: Hiking Chile’s channels

Position: Caleta Beaulieu, Canal Beagle, Chile

Scott and Mary Flanders left Gibraltar bound for New Zealand on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete listing of their diary entries, click here.

Mon 18th June. Following Sunday’s rain and occasional snow the weather cleared to an overcast and hazy but dry day. The sun tried to shine through the clouds all day but didn’t succeed. Taking advantage of the dry day we returned in the CIB to the trail to the north over the high hills. Crunching through the icy snow we covered ALL of the easily climbed hills to and along the Beagle. It was a fun day following critter tracks, rabbit & fox we believe, and practicing our photography skills. This new camera we have is amazing (Nikon D80). In the manual mode when focusing, it has this bar gizmo that shows the amount of exposure, under and over, before you take the shot (shown in the viewfinder). By turning a little wheel on the back of the camera with your thumb and bracketing around three bars we soon learned what works and doesn’t. You immediately know because the viewing window on the back shows any overexposure by flashing the overexposed parts black (usually clouds) and a darker picture if underexposed. Pretty cool. For the first time ever we can shoot nearly into the sun. It actually works. Great fun. We only wish we would have had this camera in the Med AND known how to use it.

We hiked until dark, 4:30pm Chilean time then returned home. Good day.

On a different note, our Mediterranean food treasures have now been depleted. On Monday we finished the last of the Turkish jam. A couple of weeks prior to that we served the last of our Greek and Turkish wine to visiting cruisers. What we have left of Egret’s two winter, three cruising seasons in the Med are pictures and a lifetime of memories. Not bad mi amigos. We wish the same for you and more.

Tuesday 19th June. We woke Tuesday to SUN shining through the portlights. Wow!!! We wasted no time in preparing Egret to leave and cruise the Beagle the 12 miles to Seno Pia. We put some heat into the engine, snapped the snap shackles releasing the shore lines, tied the CIB close to the transom and headed out (Picture 1 – the CIB under tow down the Beagle – looking back to the east). WHAT a beautiful day. 141 pictures worth (reduced to 28 and still cutting – you should see what we are throwing away… geesh). Mary took lots of video as well. 1100 RPM, 4-something knots, and three hours in the flybridge putt putting to the anchorage in Seno Pia. Two condors, fur seals, sea lions and penguins along the way. We took time out to take pictures of sea lions perched on a large rock on the edge of the Beagle and entrance of the sound (seno). As glaciers march to their final forward progress before retreating (as we’re seeing now) they push scoured dirt and rocks in front of the ice. After the glaciers retreat the dirt and rocks, and over time just rocks, that are left are called a moraine. It was on these moraine rocks we saw the sea lions. On our first summer cruise at the end of January, Seno Pia was our last glacier anchorage before returning crewmen MA Steve and Jim Leishman to catch their flights home from Ushuaia.

It was in Seno Pia the Egret crew plus three other cruisers from two sailboats joined us for a picnic lunch and cruise to the very head of the seno’s western arm. The last half mile or so was filled with ice that had calved off the glacier during the summer. Egret VERY slowly pushed and shoved her way in, bumping in and out of gear until we could lay off the face of the glacier for a glamour shot. Jim and I got into the little inflatable and proceeded to play bumper dink (BD) with the floating ice chunks. When finally in position we both fired away taking mucho pictures. THEN, for just a bit the sun came out and lit up our little white fiberglass home against the beautiful blue of the glacier face. WOW!!! Back at the ranch (anchorage) when the pictures had been logged into the laptop I showed Jim my favourite (sort of bursting with pride inside but trying to be cool). That dirty dog dismissed the picture with a wave of his hand saying “it is just a typical SE Alaska shot”. Deflated, crushed, etc. HOWEVER, all’s well that ends well. Undaunted, the ‘ice’ picture first became our screen saver on this laptop. LATER, a VERY smart and intelligent British powerboat magazine (Motor Boats Monthly) used the SAME picture in a TWO, 2, dos, due’, ikki, (you get the picture) page spread to highlight their table of contents for that issue. HA!!!

Now that our buddy Jim is well under the bus we can get back to business. Driving into the late afternoon sun we rounded the corner into Caleta Beaulieu, dropped TK in 60′ (just off the beach) and took two lines to trees. On the way in we could see a ways up the eastern arm to the first glacier. It was all iced over. An hour after anchoring williwaws had shaken some thick surface ice loose. It blew in sheets across the little bay and surrounded Egret to the shore. An hour later it was gone with the wind. So far, no more ice. We’ll see.

Later in the evening the wind started puffing from the north east, sort of the way we are facing, and pushed the slack out of Egret’s anchor chain putting us too close to shore. Soooo, we started the engine and used the windlass to warp ourselves offshore until the shorelines were tight. We then relaxed the tension by putting out the snubber on a short tether. No problema since.

Wednesday 20th June. We woke to sun and no wind. The whole cove where Egret is anchored is covered with thin skim ice and perhaps an inch of snow on deck. It is quite cold so the snow is not fluffy but crunchy. At sunrise with the sun rising behind the mountains and glacier in front of the anchorage YT was on deck taking pictures. For twenty minutes at sunrise the sky was constantly changing with pinks and so forth. Beautiful.

After a disastrous attempt to burn our garbage (wet wood) AND after throwing a quantity of precious Boy Scout juice (dinghy fuel) on the fire it was useless. Of course, when hiking within a few hundred feet we found DRY wood. Great. Today’s hike was two high levels up through the snow (picture 2 is YT’s beautiful snow bunny). Every now and then on the way up one or the other would screech when the small tree we were using for a handhold would shower snow down the backs of our jackets and covering our hair. At each level we would stop and catch our breath, take pictures then sit and just marvel at the sights. There were times there wasn’t a word exchanged. We sat trying to never forget the cove, glaciers and overall beauty. We lost the trail several times on the way to the peak so had to backtrack or make our own. One thing we learned quickly – You CANNOT climb smooth rock covered with snow. Slippin n’ slidin. Another great day for the Egret crew.

Wed evening. The air is quite still and cold. The ice covering most of the cove and surrounding Egret stayed all day, not moving. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday 21st June. Last night’s ice left with the tide and a bit of wind crunching its way by. This morning the entire cove is frozen over again with skim ice. We plan to hike the peninsula to the west, extending to the north toward the glacier. After we’ll take a CIB ride to as close to the glacier as the ice-breaker will allow. We’ll take videos of THAT ride. The scenery is great but the SOUNDS will be a bit different. If the wind isn’t puffing we’ll leave Fri AM for the next stop in the glacier loop. We’ll see.

So there you have it. A few more days in The Life. Ciao


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