2013, El Chalten

Back Again

2 January 2013 —  I feel it.  I can finally feel it.  I step outside the terminal and through the haze and harsh air of smoke from cigarettes.  The wind pushes against my face, tugging at my clothes and mustache, pulling me onward.  It slaps my skin and drives the weariness out of my long bloodshot eyes.  I like what I feel.  I gaze upward at the now obscured Patagonian sky and say a silent thanks.  I am back and it is back.  I turn and walk, the wind pushing me westward, my carry-on pack light on my back and my big, loose clompy boots heavy on my feet.  First it is pavement then dirt.  A two track stretches straight across the plains and I follow it.  It bends and I stay straight.  Bunch grasses, calafate bushes and sage like plants stretch as far as I can see interrupted far ahead by Lago Argentina.   To the south and west the mountains have once again been enveloped by clouds.  I walk until the sounds of civilization have dissappeared, faded into the wind.  I walk until the distant hum of machinery is replaced by the swish of my pants and the clomp of my boots.  Slowly I drift away into the sanctuary of my mind and into the solace of open spaces. I don´t come to Chalten for the wilderness, God knows that it is overrun.  I come to Chalten to push myself on the granite spires and against the harsh weather.  It is the wilderness within that I try to explore as I try to push higher, harder and farther than I have before.    It is the personal fulfillment that drives me down here again and again. I amble onward till the buildings and towers have dropped beyond the horizon.  I scare up a jackrabbit and it bolts westward across the plain toward the now unseen runway.  I pause, I sit and I write.  Chirping birds surround me and the wind continues to caress my face.  The long since forgotten sounds of civilization return abruptly and I look up and watch a blue and white 737 come in for a landing.  Its large wheels send up a puff of blue and white smoke as it touches down and the accompanying screeching noises tell me it is slowing down as it passes out of view.

Again I turn toward the snow capped horizon and my mind turns my baggage that is waiting for a flight somewhere in Buenos Aires but just as quickly the wind pulls me back to the present and once again, it feels good.