Wind, and Smoke on the Water

It is blowing again today , gusting 45 to 50 knots all day. However it is amazingly warm , around 25 or 30 degr C , which is unheard of around here. It has cooled to 14 degr now in late evening.

Unfortunately a camper started a fire in Torres Del Paine park nearby, which is developing into a disaster. Hot windy weather with no apparent fire management plan and little apparent human or equipment resources to combat fires. This, despite another big fire in the same park only 5 years ago. Ron Q: it would be interesting for you to have seen the scene here. This afternoon in Puerto Natales the streets were crowded with people carrying packs and wearing technical gear. The park has been evacuated and a lot of people have had to change plans. Two of the Refugios/Lodges were burned down.

I could see the glow of the forest fire last night from our anchorage.

Meredith returned this afternoon, a day early, because the park is now closed due to the fire. She was dusty , footsore , but unscathed. I hope she will tell her story on this blog about the last 3 days hiking in the vicinity of the fire. She was camping for 3 nights and only really slept well for one of them because it was so windy she had to support the tent from the inside. She was dashed to the ground this morning by the wind while breaking camp. She had two 30 kilometer walking days. The park gets about 600 people starting to hike every day in the summer season (now). Ninety thousand per year. No limit on entry numbers. Large fairly primitive unregulated campgrounds. Despite this obvious potential for crowds , she was hiking much of the time without seeing anyone. Strange.

Unfortunately this fire means that I cannot go to Torres del Paine Park. Fortunately there are many other beautiful places that we have seen, and will visit before this trip is done. Tomorrow being New Years Eve, we have planned an asado in the quincho. We have purchased a small lamb carcass to rotate over a woodfire in a small building called a quincho. This quincho is built solely for barbecues, and it is about 1/2 mile farther up the inlet. The ranch owner is happy for us to use the quincho and may come to join our party tomorrow evening. There should be 10 or 12 people from the various boats.