This post comes on the heels of the heat wave that we’ve been suffering through (and my dreams of glaciers and mountains), here in the American Middle-West, which in itself comes in the wake of the flood. It also comes in envy of some of the fantastic photos that Steffi has posted over the past months in this post and others.
But the real inspiration came from the laboratory. We’ve recently had several new people join the lab, something which I usually find rejuvenating. We also have a student scheduled to graduate in two days time, and she has already arranged a big party at my house. To pour salt on the wounds, she complains to me that some of her friends are scared of me and might not want to come! I was tempted to tell her—oh never mind–back to the point.
Where was I? Oh yes, so I was recently asked what my policy is about vacations. I think that newer recruits are often surprised to hear that I am all in favor, and not just for a long weekend.
One cannot do bench science by remote control, but for hard working determined researchers, there’s nothing like a real vacation to spur some creativity as well as keep the motivation high. I know this, because I myself took a 6-week break in the course of my Ph.D. for a trip to Patagonia in S. Chile and to the beautiful Lake District north of there.
We started out flying from Santiago to Puerto Natales, several thousand miles south of the capital.
By the way, this photo is of course in mid-summer. This was a very colorful town, with locals happily wearing shorts and t-shirts when the weather topped 6 or 7 deg celcius. Brrr.
We did not stay there long, as our goal was to get to the magical Torres del Paine National Park: our plan was to hike the famous circuit route, generally a 7-day hike + 2-3 additional days to climb to the base camp of the “towers.”
While the skies poured rain on us the first days on route to the base camp (before beginning the circuit), we did get clear views of the towers:
A strange and barren windswept landscape greeted us on the circuit.
This one felt big enough to make me his supper:
There were times when I wondered if we were going in the right direction, if this wasn’t a prelude to the famous Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere”.
Perhaps this had to be the most amazing site. After getting stuck in our tents in a snowstorm and being unable to climb to the highest pass on our route, we finally made it the next day (at the time, I was thinking–I’m too old for this!). To arrive at the high point and look down on this–the Grey Glacier. Spectacular!
Having finally descended to the glacier level, we were astonished to see that it’s height above the water was 80-100 meters.
While I could go on and on with many more photos from this park, and later climbing the Villarica volcano (and peering into its depths!), I will leave that for the next heat wave, if I sense any interest…