January 20th 2012 — We hike the dry, dusty trail, winding in and out of the shade of the beech trees. The high whispy clouds offer no protection, no reprieve from the hot Patagonian sun. We move upward in silence. The trail is mostly empty today as Matt and I make our way towards Valle del Torre once again. We are each lost in our own worlds and I catch a glimpse of St Exupery on the skyline. The sadness inches further outward and my sense of failure grows. I delve deeper into myself and walk faster.
Above the fixed lines we run into the friendly faces of Joel, Mikey and Kate. We break with them. Kate says they are heading down, they lost the calling. I feel around, looking for it as well, knowing that it has slipped away from me too.
We wander up the Torre Glacier, over the dirt hill and into Niponimo. I scan the moraine, looking at tents and searching for a place to put mine. A green hat pops up over a rock wind wall and a yellow tent. I smile. “Howdy” a gruff but friendly and familiar voice calls out. Immediately my soul and spirits lift. I walk over toward Jake and drop my bag. I am happy to sit and feel the light of his presence. Matt wanders in and then Eva shows up. We talk current El Chalten events, city life and plans. I wander away buoyed by their presence, and find a tent site between two boulders.
Later as I am walking to get water I pause and talk again. Eva asks her usual question “shall we do mate?”
“Absolutely” Jake responds. “I’ll get some water on.” So we gather around and Jake serves up the gourd. Laughter, loud laughter, emanates outward as we continue to talk, crack jokes and make observations. Matt joins us and we enjoy the company of friends. I am lifted.
After dinner is done, Jake and Eva wander into our camp and we shoot the breeze once more. They are headed up the East Pillar of El Mocho mañana. Matt and I are shooting for Rubio y Azul on a formation below Cerro Torre. We talk beta and watch the evening light cast its show across the Fitz Roy group.
There is always a joy, a lifting of my heart and spirits when I see a friendly face. Jake and Eva are so giving, so welcoming that I can’t help but feel good around them. I turn into the tent feeling positive, lighter, and somewhat happy. There is an optimistic feeling that maybe I can find the calling again, the one I hear best when I share the mountains with friends.