I have discovered The End of the World. It is not Ushuaia, despite what all the t-shirts, postcards, people, and tourist traps in that city will tell you. To reach The End of the World, you must take a boat even further south, across the Beagle Channel, to the small town of Puerto Williams, Chile, on Navarino Island.
The two places are worlds apart. Ushuaia has fancy restaurants, stylish hostels, and wealthy tourists cruising the world on huge ships. Puerto Williams is a place where people don´t lock their doors, all the homes are heated with wood-burning stoves, horses wander through town, and there is no “chain” anything. The sign on my hostel here says, “Come on in and find yourself a bed.”
Horses and houses on the waterfront street, Puerto Williams
Puerto Williams is also home to the most southerly trek on the planet, a circuit called Los Dientes de Navarino. This trek is what brought me to the island. What a great adventure it was! This trek is the exact opposite of the Torres del Paine circuit. Here, there are practically no people, no regulated campsites, no rangers, no park for that matter, and no trail to speak of. (Funny, when reading a guide book about this trek, the author says, “Trail… what trail?” haha). I loved this. I am tired of trekking down a well-trodden path with many other people and being forced to camp in certain locations. Here there is no trail. I had just a map with a suggested circuit. The suggested route is marked in the wilderness with trail markers, but I still haven´t seen most of them, and likely never will. I have no idea where they are. This is a good trek for those who like to navigate. Eg, when I look out over a basin, I have no idea where the intended trail should be. All I know is I have to get through the basin and over the mountain pass. How I manage the ponds, streams, beaver dams, marshes, rock-outcroppings, scree slopes, hills, boulders, etc, between here and there, are completely up to me. That is beautiful. I found the lack of a trail is liberating. (Of course I still take into consideration minimizing the amount of impact my route has on the fine environment).
I think this could be my favourite trek on the entire planet.
Two Chilean companions brave the “summer” weather on Day 1
A sample of the beautiful scenery on this trek
On darn, my socks have iced up over-night. I hate it when this happens. They are really hard to put on when they are frozen solid like this…
Bogs: 1, Shawn: 0… sign of good time on the Dientes de Navarino Trek
Anyway, this was my last major trek. Thus ends the trekking portion of my world trip. There will be more treks of course, but I don´t expect any more of the solo missions I have been doing here in the South America, carrying my world on my back through the wilderness. These treks the last 5 months have been everything I had hoped for when I visited Canada in August and decided to pack my sleeping bag. I have basked in warm sun, surrounded by alpine lakes and snow-capped mountains. I have been cold, wet, and miserable while being slammed by rain, wind, hail and snow. I have met amazing trekkers from all over the world, and I have been alone, not talking to anyone for days. I have learned a few things. I can now do pretty much everything while huddled inside my sleeping bag, hiding from the cold: cook dinner, do the dishes, repair equipment, etc. About the only thing I can´t do inside my bag is pee. I´m working on it. I can now set up my tent with both hands tied behind my back… and blindfolded… don´t try this at home.
Anyway, I have sent my tent home. It is a significant turning point in my travels. I recently spent some time in big city of Buenos Aires. All the people, traffic, noise, buildings, what a culture shock for me! But it has been fun. Actually, I am way behind on my blog — I am now in Uruguay continuing my investigation on the fine art of grilling meat. More on all of this later.
Btw, I recently celebrated my 500th day as a traveler! Obviously, I had a few beers.
So, I have left Chile for the last time. Good times were had. Go here for more Chilean photos.