Sunday, February 12, 2017
Our ship is at anchor offshore from Puerto Chucabaca, Chile, at the northern end of Patagonia. By the way, Patagonia means Big Feet. Seriously! The name Patagones was given to the people of the area by the Portuguese explorer, Fernando de Magallanes in 1520. Apparently, the furs worn on the feet by the natives, the Tehuelche, left large footprints, so of course, that meant they had big feet. The Tehuelche were much taller than many of the other native peoples, some even more than 6 feet tall.
Puerto Chucabaca is a small town in Aysén Province (also spelled Aisén) numbering only about 1,200 in habitants, who earn their living from salmon fishing and timber. It sits at the head of Aysén Fjord. The area experiences tidal fluctuations of up to 25 feet (big ones.)
Before talking about today’s excursion, may I just say that I am constantly amazed at the number of people who do not understand the meaning of the word “strenuous.” OK, no more whining about the people who should have stayed behind because they can’t even walk on even ground without the aid of a cane. Seriously, no more whining!!
We tendered to shore, where we boarded a boat for Isla Carmen, also known as Deer Island. Back in the 1960’s, European Elk, also called red deer, were imported to this island. They are closely related to American elk, but are slightly smaller. We weren’t told why, but probably for hunting. Today, about 200 live here. Like elk anywhere else, they are very elusive. It was clear we wouldn’t be seeing any today, because there were three strikes against us: warm weather, noisy trekkers, and time of day. Oh well, it was a beautiful day, and we truly enjoyed the hike. The paths were pretty narrow, and sometimes quite steep, challenging to those of us who are physically fit, and more so to those who could barely walk on flat land (yes, I know I said No More Whining!) We would hike a way, then stop to wait for those who couldn’t navigate quite as well. I can’t help but wonder how much more land we could have covered otherwise.
However, the views from all parts of the island were amazing – mountains and glaciers all around. The weather could not have been better either, not so hot to cause discomfort while hiking, and not so cool to require a jacket. In fact, we have had beautiful weather every day so far. In spite of this being the rainy season in Chile, we have mostly stayed dry. The days have been partly (minimally) cloudy, with temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s.
We’ve been warned by the captain that the seas will be rough tonight. We should expect swells of up to 20 feet between midnight and noon tomorrow. Just another adventure.