19 December 2011 | Est Quintepue
How much sunshine can a person take? I ask myself this as we spend three more splendidly sunny warm and perfect days in paradise. Well okay, it was rather hot, and also intensely sunny, more intensely sunny than Colorado even. You may have heard that there is a hole in the ozone. This hole sits above the southern hemisphere apparently right above where we now are. Sunshine rays are bouncing off Hekla's white hull. We are sitting on mirror waters reflecting the light in a v shaped canyon of towering mountains covered in impenetrable vegetation. I begin to wish for cloud cover.
Jeff and I slather on the sunscreen, I wear a huge red sunhat and we kayak to the mouth of the river at the end of the estuary. This takes some doing because minor rapids were preventing our assent on a previous excursion in the dinghy with a ten horse power motor. We go at high tide and the rapids are covered by enough water to make them kayakable. We round a bend and see a spectacular vista of snow capped mountain that we had not seen before, it takes our breath away.
The water is crystal clear. You can drink it straight from the river. The sound and sight of rushing water over the rocks is mesmerizing. The waterfalls roaring stunningly and sitting pretty in their scenic home. Jeff and I are no strangers to stupendous mountain falls having hiked and visited many in Colorado, however these are truly wild, in demeanor and in fact. We are the only ones visiting them. There is no well maintained path to a look out point for these falls with other eager hikers pulling out cameras to capture their essence. We are alone with the rushing hush and deafening hum that makes their sound silent in a way that absence of sound does not. Like I said, paradise.
Jeff notices a small path across the swift river. We punch out and peddle furiously not loosing much ground, we make it. We take the bushwhacked path into dense vegetation. Inside there is only and everywhere plants. Plants up tree trunks, in branch joints, on fallen logs and on living ones that sprout ferns, moss and flowers. We duck, we slide in mud, we disentangle clothing, hats, arms from bamboo and thorny sticky things. We feel like Indiana Jones. Always the rushing roar beside us even though we can not see it for all the green between. We see no animals and though we hear a few birds, we never see one. There is a bamboo or bamboo like plant growing in thick heavy patches almost regrown along the path. We weave in and out of branches, bamboo, moss, brambles. We are having fun. I feel like a kid exploring. Then the flies find us and the small pieces of exposed skin we have showing. Jeff's legs from the bottom of his Carhart shorts to the top of his tall white fisherman's boots becomes a tasty treat and they are famished little buggers. Well no more fantasy about Indian Jones style exploring, we untangle our way back to the kayak as fast as we can.
Every morning we wake to a thick heavy coating of ashes on Hekla. This annoys Jeff, and I find their gritty texture annoying too. He takes the dinghy for a row or motor to a nearby stream and fills up jugs of water. He uses some of this hard earned and gotten water to clean the ashes off Hekla. I am sore and a wee bit injured from my fall so that Jeff doesn't want me to help procure the water. I do the laundry. I clean Hekla's inside. I cook us food to eat. Mostly we spend lazy days. Jeff decides to learn to paddle board. He puts on his wetsuit, inflates the blow up paddleboard, ties the paddle and himself to the paddleboard, and the paddleboard to Hekla, stands up and try's a few paddle strokes. I get my camera out just in case there is a splash to capture. He practices a few minutes then unties from Hekla and off he goes paddling. I am secretly hoping he falls in because it would be funny to see and he is so good at everything he tries. I expect that I will fall in bunches before I master paddleboarding, that is why I choose to wait until we are somewhere with warm water before giving it a go. I lose interest in watching, he has it figured out, and he is not going to falI. I return to what I was doing inside. A few minutes later, I hear little paddle splashes and then one huge one. By the time I get back out with the camera, Jeff has already climbed back on and stood up.
We spend a total of four idyllic days in our paradise, each one perfect and full. We leave to try the hot springs in the neighboring estéro owned by Douglas Tompkins, of the company Patagonia fame. Because of a stiff on shore wind we have to skip this anchorage for now. We sail north towards Caleta Andrade where I'm pretty sure other adventures await us. I'll let you know!