Wednesday 17 June 2009

Would You Like Ice With That?

Morning has broken. The sky has shattered into pieces of orange, indigo and grey, with golden light seeping through the cracks. A light dusting of virgin snow blankets the craggy peaks surrounding the valley as it slowly emerges from beneath its blanket of night. It is early, far too early, and we are on our way to visit the Grey Glacier at the southern end of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. When we arrive at our departure point, we are greeted by a Patagonian fox, the soft morning light highlighting her thick, luxurious coat. She studied us for a while, licked her lips, yawned and then trotted off into the trees.

While we were waiting for the boat that was to carry us across the waters of Largo Grey to the glacier, the sun realised that it also got up far too early and so it retreated behind the clouds that were racing in from the north. By the time we boarded the boat, the clouds had descended around us and cold, icy rain started to fall. Things were not looking good. In fact, things were not looking anything, since we couldn’t really see any things at all. Some very helpful soul did point out that it is called the Grey Glacier and Grey Lake and so we should have expected it to be all rather grey, shouldn’t we? Hmmmmm. As the boat began to plough its way through the steely, frigid waters of the lake, one of the more optimistic members of the group decided that there really was a brighter patch of sky to the east and that, perhaps, the clouds were starting to lift and lessen in that direction. Hmmmmmmm. Then the Captain assured us that this really was the best light for viewing the glacier and that we were, in fact, lucky that the sun was not shining. Apparently, the blue colours of the ice are more vibrant, more alive when the sun is not shining and the surroundings are monotone grey. Hmmmmmmmmm. Still, all was not doom and gloom, and spirits began to lift when the crew bought us all an ice cold pisco sour, the ice freshly chipped from a nearby iceberg. Excellent, just what we needed to warm our hearts and our souls. As I sipped my drink, I couldn’t help but think that a hot chocolate might have been a tad more appropriate, given the frozen state of all of my extremities.

As the boat chugged nearer to our destination, the mood lightened as the pisco sour started to numb our brains and warm the cockles of our hearts. As if to mirror our mood, the clouds began to lift and the rain began to lessen. Our drinks were topped off and the sun didn’t shine – how lucky were we!?! Well, since I never did get to see the glacier with the sun shining, I can only assume that the Captain was telling us the truth and not some long-nosed yarn that he told to keep the tourists happy, since when we did finally get to see the glacier and some of the icebergs up close, the colours were spectacular. The glacier itself was all soft hues of blue and grey, with an icy heart of cobalt blue. The icebergs, sculpted by the biting winds into fantastical shapes, floated out of the gloom like apparitions of imaginary vessels carved from glass. Some of the icebergs had toppled over and their bases were exposed to the air. On the fractured and sheared planes and surfaces of the nether regions of these icebergs, the most stunning, vibrant, clear and sparkling shades of blue could be seen. You could stare into the heart of the iceberg and drown its deep blue depths.

I will finish this post with a quote from Darwin himself, made during his voyage through the fjords of Southern Patagonia:

"It is scarcely possible to imagine any thing more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of these glaciers, and especially as contrasted with the dead white of the upper expanse of snow."—January 29, 1833.

As for the name, the Grey Glacier, one can’t help but feel that the Beryl Glacier would be far more appropriate (and I am, or course, talking about beryl, the beautiful blue mineral as opposed to Beryl, the dear little old lady with the blue rinse).


Anya said...

Fantastic post !!
So many wonderful shots,
its so beautiful in your country :)
And lovely words written...

Cortes said...

Great photos. You have captured the many blue hues of the ice.

When I see pictures like these, especially the ones of the bergs, I remember why I have always wanted to try ice diving. What a sight it must be from under the surface!


jay said...

Oh, my goodness - it's beautiful!!! Stunningly beautiful - and you captured such wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous images to bring home with you! I'd be framing one or two of those, for sure, to hang in my house!

Spectacular indeed!

I'm still glad to be sitting here looking at them instead of standing on that bloat with numb brain and blue hands. So glad you went and did that for me - you're a pal!

*Shh! Don't let JD hear me say that*

Baino said...

See I was right. You don't post often but when you do, it takes my breath away. I'd always wanted to travel through the Inside Passage but it doesn't look anywhere near as spectacular as this . . amazing ...
Actually I've walked on a glacier in the sunshine and the glare is incredible so I think you were lucky to have an overcast day.

Don't Bug Me! said...

Anya: Thank you! It was incredibly beautiful and I would love to live there, but I was just visiting. I actually live in Canada, which is also beautiful but doesn't have any penguins.

Cortes: I love the idea of ice diving, but I think the actual practice would be just a wee bit too cold for me. Perhaps just once to get some nice photos.

Jay: You are welcome - what are pals for! As for the photos, well I have no walls left to hang pictures - perhaps it is time to move to a bigger house!?!

Baino: Thank you - high praise indeed coming from such a talented individual. Which glacier have you been to? Oh, and congrats on the job - fingers crossed that it leads to bigger and better things.

Kate said...

What an experience, and you tell it so well - it all looks amazing, in fact, not quite real!

I love the fox by the way.... our 'urban' girl in the garden has started to bring her cubs in now - that is a wonderful sight too!

I won't tell my friend Beryl what you said about her hair colour :-)

Carolina said...

Hehehe, again a great story and breathtaking pictures. And I really mean breathtaking! Not that I'm dead now, I started breathing again to leave you this comment
;-) But really...WOW!

Don't Bug Me! said...

Kate: Can you get photos of your fox and her cubs? I would love to see some.

Carolina: I am glad that you are still breathing! But you are right, it was breathtaking.

Kate said...

I wish I could - I have to be so quick to get anything at all and remember she only brings them out at night!

I do have a video that I took on my phone of the vixen - I could send that so you can see her at least!

magiceye said...

brrrr it sure is cold out there!
the 2nd week ahs begun at Pet Pride where its nice and warm with all the pet love!
missing you there!

cya soon!


Don't Bug Me! said...

Kate: I would love to see any shots you can get. My Mum used to have a family of badgers come to her garden. They would trip the security lights, so you would always know when they had arrived. The lights didn't seem to bother them, so you could also get some good shots. Mind you, a camera with a tripod is always going to be better than a cell phone!

Hi Bozo!
I am on my way over right now!

Kate said...

I'll try to send the videos tonight if I can get them off my mobile - I hope you will be able to see them ok.

They are slippery little things and will not stay still - so the rear end view is becoming the best.

Please could you send an email to me - so that I can reply with the attachments?

Don't Bug Me! said...

Kate: Here you go -
Thank you!

Cinema Minima said...

Great pictures. Sounds like you're having quite the adventure.

Don't Bug Me! said...

Hello Pubman! Glad you could drop by. We did have an amazing experience travelling around South America, but the best is yet to come.........

Lavender and Vanilla Friends of the Gardens said...

Great post, wonderful pics and love your humorous and interesting writing.
The beryl blue and shapes of the icebergs is really a spectacular sight.

Don't Bug Me! said...

Hi Titania and thank you! It really is an incredibly beautiful place - it is hard to take any bad photos!