Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Honeymoon - Day 12 - Tyndall Lake to the sea and the Serrano Glacier

Today we left our remote camp at Lake Tyndall and cruised the Tyndall River back to the Serrano River where we continued onward to the sea and the Serrano Glacier.  We entered the Bernard O'Higgin's National Park and had plenty of time to kayak up to the face of the massive glacier before a relaxing night with more of Rob's delicious cooking.  Click the title to read on....

Today Rob woke us up around 7am to a breakfast of hot coffee, jam, bread, oatmeal fruit.  When I first climbed out of the tent the lake looked calm enough to wakeboard on and foolishly said it looked so, thereby jinxing us.  Within 30 minutes the wind was whipping across the lake and it became very clear there was no way were paddling any further up the lake which had shores of glacially scrapped smooth rocks with no safety areas for rescue if one of our boats were to capsize.  Being sore from the day before and realizing we couldn't paddle against the wind, I didn't feel that bad bailing on the idea.  From the maps it didn't look like we could paddle up close to it anyway as the true tongue of the glacier descending into a different lake to the south.  

Paddling away from camp was a rush as the west wind was behind us and pushing us quickly down the lake back towards the Tyndall river.  The point of land we had to paddle around was the most dangerous part with wind swells sweeping over our boat up to 3-4 feet high.  It was just for 5-10 minutes or so but we were really rocking in our double kayak and I had to brace us on a few occasions from flipping.  Rob said it was pretty much the limit of what he felt comfortable taking guests through but he felt confident with us because were were good strong paddlers.  

Back on the Serrano River was a blast as I basically just had to rudder steer us down the winding river and away from shallow rock bars that could hang us up.  We moved quickly with the current making it back to the Serrano River in about 30 minutes when it had taken us 2 hours of walking and paddling to cover the same different last night.  

Back on the Serrano River the paddling was actually pretty easy as the wind had died down a lot and it had begun to lightly rain.  Although the weather in Patagonia is extremely unpredictable it seemed the general trends were windy rain at a night, calmer mornings, and calmer when it rained with crazy wind when the sun came out.  Thus, despite the rain we remained warm in our dry suits and it made for easy paddling down the river.  We saw lots of birds along the river and more cows but not like the "wild cows" we had seen at Tyndall Lake the night before.   

It was also beautiful to see the different colors of the various tributary rivers entering and mixing with the Serrano River.  Occasionally we passed some smaller rapids and strainers and got caught a couple times in some small whirlpool currents that spun us around but the wind remained relatively calm and the paddling was easy.  

We pushed on down the river for the afternoon, ending at the mouth of the river and the sea.  This was the first time either of us had paddled a river right to the sea and it was an amazing way to leave the Torres del Paine park.  At the sea the waves were much larger and the wind was stronger so we hugged the right shore until we came to docks at our final camping spot in the Bernard O'Higgins National Park.  There was a ranger station on site and pulled our boats onto shore to unload at our campsite.  I was a bit confused as to where the supposed Serrano Glacier was that we would paddle up to until Rob led us down a footpath and up around a corner to a very small lake filled with glaciers that the Serrano Glacier poured down the mountainside into.  Jaw... on the floor.  

We had to portage the boats along the hiking trail and up to the put in on the rocky shores of the lake right at the head of a stream exiting the lake the small icebergs were being pulled down.  This was tiring but with the empty boats of gear it was a bit easier than our previous portage yesterday.  Rob helped us into our boat and we pushed off from shore to cross between the icebergs at the end of the lake and the stream exiting the lake.  I had forgotten to put down the rudder so when I thought we were steering we were just being pulled down stream.  We were able to straighten ourselves pretty easily though and made our way through the ice with Rob following behind.  

We remained on the Serrano Glacier Lake for almost two full hours.  The wind was calm and the sun was opening up the clouds and giving us increasingly better views of the peaks above the glacier.  We played around with paddling up onto the glaciers and smashing into them with our boat.  I took a ton of photos with both the point and shoot I had attached to my life vest as well as the DSLR that I had risked taking in my cockpit in a dry-bag.  Rob took photos of us and we took photos of him paddling around in from of the huge wall of ice.  Occasionally, huge ice falls would occur creating a fan of crushed snow and ice higher up on the glacier.  Every time ice would fall it sounded like thunder.  Before we left the area the sun had opened up the sky for great views of the peaks above and we ventured even closer to the glacier crossing our fingers nothing would fall in and capsize our boat.  

When we returned to where we put in we made our way through a jungle of icebergs near the head of the stream and shore.  We pulled the boats out and hauled them back to our camp where Rob cooked us up some Asparagus soup and tuna pasta for dinner along with wine again and the same deserts as the previous night.  Several boats, including a huge catamaran showed up with tourists and what looked like a news crew and to Rob's surprise his co-worker Brook also showed up with clients that had put on the river early this morning.  

Before dinner I set up the camera for a time lapse over 3 hours of the glacier and the icebergs in the lake and the three of us watched "Into the Mind" on our iPad at picnic tables under a tarp Rob had again erected.  We talked about outdoor adventures we all have had and enjoyed a very relaxing evening again with wine and great food.   Tomorrow we catch a boat back to Puerto Natales, leaving the land of glaciers, massive peaks, and crazy strong wind!

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