2013, El Chalten

The Beginning of the End

2 February 2013 — BEEP BEEP BEEP  “Shit.”  I reach up and press a button to shut off the alarm.

“Is it five?” Matt asks.

“No that is the one a.m. alarm.  I forgot to turn it off.”

“Oh… is it set for five?”

“Yes Matt” I reply as I roll over and try to go back to sleep.

***

Four hours later — They beeping sounds again.  “Matt, wake up.  It’s five.”

“Thanks Jared.”  Matt sits up and I reach up and turn the alarm off once again.  Matt starts stuffing his sleeping bag while I pull my sleeping bag up over my shoulders and curl up in the fetal position.  Outside the overcast sky has yet to be brightened by the rising sun and the glow of halogen street lamps still light the campground.

Matt showers and soon I hear him outside the tent repacking his bags.  The headlamp flashes here and there and from my sleeping bag I check out my watch.  Oh five-thirty.  I slither out of my bag, pushing it down around my legs and slip into my flip flops and a puffy jacket.  I step out of the tent and the cool moist air wraps itself around my bare feet.  I cross my arms pulling my jacket tighter to retain warmth and give a brief shudder.

Above the moonlight is diffused through a high layer of cirrus clouds and a light, benign wind occasionally rustles the trees.  We load our backs with packs and trudge up the grassy walkway to the gravel drive that leads to the road.   The walk, lit by street lamps and the slowly brightening sky is short, two minutes at the most.  “Chalten sure is quiet at this hour.”

“Yeah, the maxikiosco isn’t even open” Matt replies as two dogs dart down the empty street chasing an unknown prey.  We stand by the curb and talk baggage weight and airline fees. “You don’t have to…  ” Matt starts.  “Hmmm this might be my shuttle” he changes his thought mid-sentence upon noticing a set of slowly approaching headlights.  The lights slow down even more as they approach us and behind them we see teh white Mercedez-Benz shuttle bus with the “Las Lengas Transporte” painted on the side.  “Yep”

“Well Matt, it has been fun.”  I offer Matt my hand and he shakes it and then give each other a hug.  “Safe travels.”

“You too, Don Jared” he replies as he picks up his bags and walks to the rear of the shuttle.    I watch him board, wave and then make my way back to my small yellow tent and try to fall back asleep.