27 February 2007


Tomorrow I will have another pint of blood removed making it an even 35 units (pints) since June 5, 2006. That's 4 3/8 gallons. That's getting close to a full 5 gallon bucket full of blood, taken out of me. On Feb 6th, my ferritin was only 82, down from 1080 last spring. A ferritin of 82 is well within the normal range, but it's not quite considered 'de-ironed' by the doctor until it gets to 30. I really hope to be at 30 or below after tomorrow's appointment, and I will know for sure next week. Fingers (and toes) crossed.

Also, you might have noticed (if you read my blog), that I changed the name at the top. I don't know why it was what it was, but I think .:madNESS is a much better choice.

Here's my planned nordic ski racing schedule for March:
March 3: Par for the course II 10km individual freestyle
March 22: Nat'l Masters 15km skiathlon
March 24: Nat'l Masters 15km classic
March 25: Nat'l Masters 30km freestyle
March 31: John Craig race (classic)

Downtown Bend, winterfest sprints.

04 February 2007


Our two week vacation to Chile was one of those trips, that you can refer to as a '10 year trip'. If you still remember the trip you went on in ten years, (hence '10 year trip') it was a good trip. No doubt we'll remember this one for longer than 10 years. Two weeks was not nearly enough time to see all there is to see there (so plans might be in the mix to return someday ;).

Getting there:
It's sort of a long haul to get to where we went the first day. The day started out at about 4:30am in Portland, with an early flight to Atlanta. ATL is the busiest airport in the USA. It's a crappy airport, but aren't they all? Unfortunately we had a 7+ hour layover so we had to drink coffee and try to find something to do. This was a real drag, but I guess that's what happens when you use frequent flier tickets to travel now-a-days. Finally we were able to board our flight to 'Santiago de Chile'. It was an overnighter, and with the help of some ambien sleeping pills we were able to sleep a bit. When we got into Santiago, we went straight to the LAN desk to see if we could get on the earlier non-stop flight to Punta Arenas (and we did!). We were originally booked on a flight that would have forced us to stay in the airport a couple more hours and then the flight also stopped twice along the way to Punta Arenas, so getting on the earlier flight would save alot of time. (This would have been a great move in the TV show 'the amazing race'!!). After we got to Punta Arenas we immediately got on a bus to goto Puerto Natales, the staging area for Torres del Paine national park.

The Park
Torres del Paine is just south of the southern Patagonia ice fields. It's spectacular to say the very least. Hiker's have two options: the common W route, that is about 4-5 days hiking/camping or the 'circut' which is about 8-10 days. Laurie and I figured to do the circut in 6 nights (7 days). Could we do it? We thought so, but keep reading. It started out in the late afternoon, when we began the hike here:
It was 7km to the first camp, and if we decided to go on after that it was another 4 hours. Since it was about 6pm, when we reached the first camp, we decided not to go on to 'Seron camp'. So the next day we got off to an early start and were hiking before 6am. It was a beautiful morning, and more beautiful landscape:
There was a major river right next to the trail. This rivers source is melting glaciers. Now we talked to locals that said there was alot of rain in December, but these rivers were high. Like over flowing their banks high. You can see in the next photo the trail is flooded out, and we had to travers up the side, to avoid getting wet.
This was a recent flood too, because there were also spots where you could see blooming daisy's underwater. (they weren't underwater for long. Anyway, the main observation here, is there is some MAJOR melting going on down there. Global warming? The second day of hiking was planned to be about 27 kilometers. And let's just say it ain't an easy walk around the Paine circut. We were exhausted when we finally got to Refugio Dickson to setup the tent. It was a real welcome site when we finally got it into view:
Dickson in sight
It was not before Laurie's toe was black and blue and my feet hurt real bad. (We choose trail running shoes over hiking boots. A big mistake, with heavy backpacks. - no blisters though!!!)
The next day we slept in a bit, got some rest and decided on a shorter day. Since there was only one campsite between dickson and the big pass, paso John Gardner. There was no way we were going to pull another 20km+ day after the first big day of hiking, but that's OK. We made it to 'Camping Perros' near los perros glacier:
Needless to say, we were just fine with the shorter day. It was still long. After that we went up Paso John Gardner. The view at the top from behind:
and then looking the other way over the pass, it was glacier for as far as the eye could see:
It was an amazing sight, but bring a polarized lens for your camera. Glacier Grey is the big glacier. Here's another pic from way further down the narly trail:
Now this was another long day. It was an extreme section of the trail where there were many sketchy river crossings, where you walked over logs and grabbed a guide line for balance, and steep ladders leading down to these rivers:


Steeper than they look:


It was very exciting hike, because you really never knew what was around the next corner or over the next hill. It was truely an adventure. The next campsite didn't have as much of an "I'm out in the middle of nowhere' feel:
Needless to say, we didn't get through the whole 100km circut, we endedup taking a shortcut back because there was no way we were going to do a 8-10 day hke in 6. We were glad we did the hike we did, because the other route (the 'W') is much more popular and when we merged onto that part of the trail, it was very busy. We did meet some really nice people though.
We also found what could be the best hostel in Chile, maybe even the best in all of south america. It's called Zapato Amarillo, and this is the view:
If your down there, find it. It's near Puerto Octay, north of Puerto Montt. The staff is first class, the food is excellent, and it's not expensive.

It was such a great trip that we want to do it again! It was a great time, we didn't have enough time!

Whew. What a post. Now there is a full set of photos on flicker. Click here for a slideshow.