After leaving our bikes under lock in a cell at the Cochrane police station, we go to Tortel. A small village with an atypical architecture floating on the fjords. You could compare it to Venice in the middle of the Chilean mountains.
After a few changes in our itinerary and 2 lost days due to a bad weather for navigation, we finally start the 100 km of navigation separating us with our goal : the giant “glaciar Jorge Montt “
Tortel is now behind our pack raft and the fjords are opened to us. Daily, we spend 7 to 10h paddling through the fjords. Meanwhile, many stories happens to us. We will never forget:
Our early wake up at 2:30 am. The fjords relentless tide come to wake us up during the night (Advice: don’t rely on tides forecast !). A bad sensation to move and to have to dry all our stuff in the darkness.
Before the tide
After the tide
These nights spent in wood houses that you can meet along the fjords prolonged by paradisiacal beaches. These abandoned houses was before, the property of cypress chopper . (With tourism, it is the main economy in Tortel)
Or this meeting with a huemul (The Patagonian deer) at the end of the day. It rests along the beach. We approach it slowly. He does not look afraid. Now, We are very close. The animal stops and glances at us like if we were from another planet. We are the guest. We know who it is, it does not know who we are. An amazing moment. We feel privileged.
Four days after our departure, our goal is not so far. The only things separating us from the glacier are hundreds of icebergs floating in the bay. These one are pushed by a strong wind created by the microclimate of the glacier.
Setting the tent near the glacier and hearing the rumblings all along the night is an incredible and frightening experience.
The crossing until the entrance of the glacier will be printed for long time in our memories. Navigating in ours pack rafts between these blocks of crystalline ice which look like floating cathedrals give us the feeling to be vulnerable. A feeling so much enjoyable !
Here is the moment to go back and to say goodbye to the glacier.it is carried by the swell that we reach an isolated wood house. Three men are maintaining the island owned by a rich Chilean. A good meal and a little bit of comfort in a warm house have been beneficial to boost our bodies.
We go back on our pack raft till the exit. After two paddling days, we reach a wild beach where we have to carry out a portage on a distance of 6 kilometres. Us, who thought that these last kilometers would be quickly done…
A deep and primary jungle face us. On the schedule: a lot off uphill, steep cliffs, lake crossing, deep caves that can make cry anybody who attempt it. Furthermore, it results impossible to go back with our pack-raft: During our first attempt, we lost one piece of a paddle. Thus, no choice, we have to try to go through! After having tried all the possible portage techniques ( We even build a kind a bag stretcher … ) and due to a weight excess, We are obliged to leave one part of or equipment.
We finally need 14 hours of walking to get out. An average of 500 meters per hour. It can give you an idea of the difficulty, the density of the vegetation and the geography.
Our spirits and our bodies are completely empty of any energy. The only choice we have to get our equipment back is to go back to Tortel to catch a boat.
We would like to thank the two French couples who helped us a lot to get our equipment back. We are sure that they will recognise themselves through this article.
As a conclusion, it is from our mistakes that we learn !