Clambering from the shore onto a house-sized boulder, I saw a view that I had never imagined I would see again. A wall of ice curled, fractured and broken, from mountains shrouded in windswept clouds that seemed to rise into infinity. Azure ribbons of crystal melt water radiated a dazzling blue as if clinging to a memory of the crevasse it had just flowed from. And a kayaker nestled amongst it all.
Paddling with my best friend, Seamus, we had at last reached somewhere I had been before, the Canal De Los Montanes. Last year, stormbound in this same channel with a client, I had felt like I was at the end of the Earth. Yet, after paddling and portaging 800 kilometers through Patagonia’s wild, western fjords I was finally back on familiar ground. Seamus and I had spent the last month journeying through an ice-filled labyrinth landscape without roads or people. We’d grown used to the company of ‘bergs and penguins, and now jokingly greeted each other by mimicking the Chewbacca- like roars of the sea lions that followed us.
After weeks of tough 40- to 50-kilometer pushes, we had just one more portage left and a few days of paddling to get back to town.
The Canal De Los Montanes was our last chance to live amongst the glaciers. Still well provisioned, we didn’t feel ready to go back just yet. Blessed by a week of near-perfect conditions with sunshine and no wind, we lingered in the fjord. For a week we explored glaciers and dragged our boats up glacial streams. We set camp at the foot of the ice and climbed a mountain in neoprene booties. Our worries about reaching home were gone and adventure filled our days with the same curious exploration we had relished together as kids growing up in Scotland.