We started this day with all the other hotel residents in the early morning darkness. Clothed in various levels of performance gear, we sat around an ridiculously huge breakfast of eggs, pastries, coffee, juices, you name it. Clearly, the industry operates smoothly down there because we had just enough time to stuff our faces and pick up a boxed lunch before getting called for the bus lottery. The Design Suites wins from an architecture and view standpoint, however since it so far from town, we are first on the list for pickups and last on the list for drop offs. Luckily everyone drives like maniacs, so the rides are relatively short.
Our bus pointed westward towards the glacier as we tried to sleep off our breakfast. Once we were in the park, we watched a spectacular sunrise over the Brazo Rico as our tour guide filled our heads with park details and history. Eventually, we reached the end of the peninsula and spent about half an hour walking the extensive boardwalk system and happily snapping pictures. The ice pack groaned and cracked, always trying to settle. We tried to catch a glimpse of the calving, but there is just too much to take in out there. Rain and then snow swept over us. I tried to frame some normal items to give the face of the glacier some perspective, but my best shots would come later after our boat ride. Heilo y Aventuras has the only license that takes you out to walk on the perito moreno glacier, so if that is in your plans, make sure you book early to get on the Big Ice trek. If you are interested in a shorter walk, you can book when you get to Calafate.
We split into spanish and english speaking groups after the boat and began hiking towards the moraine, stopping twice along the way - once to get fitted for crampons and then at a higher camp so our guides could get prepped. After one more short stop on the ice, we set out for a 5 hour walk to a lake near the middle of the glacier. Walking with crampons took some adjusting, but soon we were scaling walls matrix-style.
We wandered and wandered, looking down a crevasse here, a waterfall there. Eventually we stopped for lunch and a chill quickly set in. I ate yet another ham sandwich and filled my water bottle from the lake. Everyone described the taste of glacier water as 'crispy.' The wind never stopped whipping off the ice field and while we loved the deep blues of the ice in overcast skies, the sun never popped out to warm us. I suppose that is the price of admission to such a crazy landscape.
Once we were back at base camp taking a last look at the southern face of the glacier, all memories of discomfort quickly dissipated. We had struck up a friendship with three American buddies bouncing around the country for a week and spent the return boat ride talking with them and sipping on whiskey with some glacier ice to cool it off. We would see them again for dinner, however everyone would pass out on the bus ride home.