April 10, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
Today was my last day in Argentina and what a day. It looked like Christmas! The snowflakes are over an inch in diameter and all mountain ranges of Tierra del Fuego are sparkling white with fresh snow. Winter arrived at the end of the world. This trip truly exceeded my expectations. Both trips to Antarctica and Patagonia were exceptional and I fulfilled my childhood dream of visiting those places one day. I feel alive and full of creative energy. I am looking forward to painting some large studio paintings of these wild landscapes later on this year. Both Chile and Argentina are wonderful places to travel. I met exceptionally friendly people with great sense of hospitality. One of my highlights of the trip was meeting a well known American photographer Jon Cornforth with whom I spent several days photographing and painting in Argentina. Jon opened my eyes to some more complex aspects of landscape photography. Over all I am sad to leave this place but also I happy to be arriving in British Columbia at the height of spring.
This is my last entry into the travel blog before I board the plane tomorrow to fly home to Vancouver. It was a joy and privilege to share my experiences with all of you.
April 9, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
Today was a farewell to the park, as I had to make my way to Ushuaia. I gave my friends a ride to Puerto Natales as they continued on to Los Glaciares National Park. Thirty kilometres before Puerto Natales I caught a flat tire, that was the third one in the last few days. Two tires were patched up including a spare one. When I was pulling my spare tire out of the trunk of the car I noticed that it was also deflated. I guess the tire guy in the park did not do a good job so we were at the side of the road with no tires. Since I figured that those two tires were already done I decided to drive on the flat one as far as the rubber held on the wheel. I always wondered how long it would take for the rubber tire to completely explode. Well it took 15 kilometers till we hit metal. So we put on a new flat spare and luckily arrived at Puerto Natales. They had a tire shop there and they were able to change and rotate my two tires to brand new ones. By noon I left my friends and drove straight though Patagonia crossing the border to Argentina and arrived safely in Ushuaia at 9PM.
April 8, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
This morning's photography was a success! We woke up before 6AM and drove to the viewpoint where we could see the whole mountain range of the Torres. Just at the last moment when I thought the sunrise would be not happening, the brilliant orange light illuminated mountain walls creating a spectacular display of light. We were also lucky to see a rainbow at the same time. The rest of the day actually turned out to be very rainy and windy (no surprise there).
April 8, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
This morning we chased the sunrise over the Torres. Unfortunately there was no direct warm light on the mountains. Maybe tomorrow the photography will more successful. The rest of the day was spent hiking to the viewpoint of Grey Glacier at Lago Grey at the western part of the park. We saw some massive icebergs floating in the water, which calved off from the face of the glacier.
April 7, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
Today in the morning I painted the river valley flowing through the Torres del Paine. There were beautiful dark purple shadows contrasting with brilliant yellow cast light. Later in the day I met up with two old Ontario College of Art friends, Elzbieta and Dawn who were visiting the park also. Elzbieta is well known Toronto landscape artist (http://www.elazbietakrawecka.com). In the afternoon we hiked to a spectacular set of falls, accompanied as usual by tremendous amounts of wind.
April 6, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
I woke up again in one of my favourite spots right under the Torres. The sunrise was spectacular and I decided to hike up to one of the lookouts of the Torres Range. Fortunately there was no wind today and painting was extremely relaxing. Since the shapes of the mountains are so wild, the constant changing light created beautiful dramatic shadows.
April 5, 2007 El Calafate, Argentina
This morning I drove to Moreno Glacier hoping to catch the sunrise light over the ice. Unfortunately it got cloudy and I did not get much photography. After returning to El Calafate I resupplied with groceries and drove south to Torres del Paine National Park. I will spend a few more days here before going back to Ushuaia.
April 4, 2007 El Calafate, Argentina
I stayed in El Calafate, walking the city and enjoying my hotel room with a beautiful view of the lake.
April 3, 2007 El Calafate, Argentina
Today I drove to El Calafate and booked myself into a beautiful hotel overlooking Lake Argentina. I was tired after several days in the mountains and needed to recharge my batteries with a soft bed and warm shower.
April 2, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
I hiked today in the western part of the park to the view of Cerro Torre mountain. I was a pleasant sunny day. The forest is turning red creating beautiful visual effects against the blues and purples of the far away mountains. Even though it was a sunny and warm day in El Chalten up on the tundra it was Gore-tex conditions. As the sun moved through the day the mountains became less defined and emerged in solid colours of blue greys. Today is my last day in the Los Glaciares NP. Tomorrow I am heading to El Clafate on my way to Torres del Paine NP and then on back to Ushuaia.
April 1, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
Today was more of a relaxing and slow day. After so many days of hiking in the mountains my body finally is starting to feel tired. So I gave my legs a day to recuperate and only walked a short distance to a spectacular set of falls. I am always fascinated by the contrast of cascading water against the wet dark rocks. It is always a very challenging thing to paint a particular geological structure, which would truthfully depict its form and texture. Waterfalls are for me always places where I feel most at peace, witnessing never-ending transitions.
March 31, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
Today I hiked into the valley of Rio Tore to paint cascading waterfalls from the Huemul Glacier. It was a calm beautiful day. I sat on a gigantic boulder that fell off from the mountainside eons ago. Moving water is such a magical sight to observe. It carves and changes the landscape over the thousands of years to be a source of life for the planet. Waterfalls are a very significant part of my artistic inspiration. It brings me a necessary time of rejuvenation that replenishes my senses and my soul.
March 30, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
Today I hiked deep into the park to the base of Cerro Tore and Fritz Roy mountains. Below the cascading glacier was an emerald Lake de Los Tres. The wind in this spot was so strong that for the first time in my life I saw a waterfall being blown off sideways losing its gravity. Since the hike was about 4 hours one way I only did one painting on location. The walk through the mountains and low tundra was magical with every angle presenting new compositions. I will be staying in the park for a few more days. By now I have a good routine and am starting to get to know the language of the land around me.
March 29, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
Today I drove to the north end of the park at Lake del Desierto and hiked to the viewpoint of Huemul Glacier. There were great vistas of the Rio de les Vueltas. Both sides of the valley at higher elevations are turning red and remind me somewhat of northern Ontario. While painting my second painting for today I experienced the first snowfall but it only lasted few minutes. I I am really enjoying the park as I am exploring more and more of it.
March 28, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
Today I hiked up the river valley in the northern part of the park. There was only a small incline in elevation but I was rewarded with amazing view of Piedras Blancas, a beautiful glacier lake connected to the river below. The wind was so strong that this time I had support my easel box by leaning forward and pushing it with my chest against the wind.
March 27, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
Today I hiked to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the famous mountain of Fritz Roy. It is a pure vertical rock emerging like a shark tooth out of the glaciers below. As usual wind was my constant companion but I managed to find a sheltered spot between large boulders.
March 26, 2007 Los Glaciars National Park, Argentina
Today in the morning I hiked to a spectacular waterfall cascading from the side of the mountain to catch the first morning light. Painting in that location was a peaceful and joyful experience. Later on in the afternoon I hiked the cliff that overlooks the Fritz Roy river valley. The autumn colours are starting to show and it is an incredible joy for me to paint during that season.
March 25, 2007 Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
Today I arrived at El Chalten, it is a lovely little town at the heart of the park. Here are to legendary mountains Fritz Roy and Cerro Torre. I found a nice campsite near the town and will explore for the next few days different trails into the park. It is somehow a strange to experience here in the fall when back in Canada I will be coming back to full spring in Vancouver. My plein-air painting season is very much extended by such travel arrangements. I've been on the road and on the ocean for a few weeks and I am starting to feel at home here in this landscape. It always takes days to emotionally translate the language of each place into a painting. Argentina and Chile are great places to travel. It is amazingly clean here with high environmental conciseness. I have so many ideas for studio paintings from this trip that my mind and my head are getting itchy for studio time back at home. I will need many months to transfer all these impressions into large canvases.
March 24, 2007 El Calafate, Argentina
Today started early again with a photography session of sunrise over Moreno Glacier. It is a beautiful ice formation coming right into the waters of Lake Argentina. The rest of the day was spent painting the glacier and later on exploring the town of El Calafate. It is the Argentinean equuivalent of our Banff. It is a gateway to the national park with many outdooor stores and great restaurants. It is a modern town with contemporary architecture and it's easily visible that its citizens take pride in their surroundings.
March 23, 2007, Torres del Paine, Chile
I just wanted to share with you some of the pictures I took at sunrise this morning. It lasted only 5 minutes, but it was worth the hike. Latter on today I am heading to El Calafate in Argentina, which is a gateway to Los Glaciares national Park.
March 22, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
This morning started rather early, at 5:30AM. My goal was to capture a sunrise light hitting the wall of the mountain panorama. The photos of that morning are here below. In a space of less than an hour I shot 150 pictures. The day turned rather grey later on in the afternoon and towards the evening magnificent winds and rainstorms moved over the mountain.
March 21, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
Magnificent day, but full of wind. I am trying to keep low to the ground from being blown over from the mountain ridge. The area is full of beautiful lakes, which are all connected and sparkling with amazing colours of turquoise blue and green.
March 20, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
Today I moved campsites and drove southwest to Lago Pehoe where there is one of the most classic views of all Patagonia.
March 19, 2007 Torres del Paine, Chile
Today was a wonderful day. Weather finally cleared up and morning was sunny and warm. The wind was as persistent as ever. I decided to do a classic hike to the base of the Torres, which was about 7 km mostly up hill. Although the last leg of the hike was tiring because it was scramble over large boulders, the view over the ridge was most rewarding. It became obvious right away how big the towers are and how imposing they are against the surrounding landscape. I found a quiet spot away from the winds and did two painting, working both with vertical and horizontal compositions. The hike back was shorter in time but very demanding on the knees since it was all downhill with the weight of my backpack.
March 18, 2007, Torres del Paine, Chile
Today was very quiet day. Mountains were covered in fog and mist and for most of the day there was a heavy rain. Only in the late afternoon was I able to come out of the tent and do a painting of sunlight coming through stormy clouds. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to go to the base of the towers. I guess I'll wait and see.
March 17, 2007, Torres del Paine, Chile
Today was a magnificent day, which started with a beautiful rainbow at 7 am over the Towers. I took as usual the less traveled route hiking which lead me to a great view of the mountain walls beautifully contrasting with the rich foreground. This time I stayed low to the ground and anchored my paint box with heavy stones. It was a wise precaution since in no time the wind picked up with great force. For many hours I was keeping low and completed two very good sketches. By the end the session I felt like my soul was blown away from my body. I heard of winds in Patagonia but to experience it first person is quite another story. One of the reason I am writing this travel blog is to share with you some of the challenges and joys I experience while I am on the land. On many occasions it is a very solitary experience, but also I very much enjoy sharing it with others. While I sit on the side of the mountains I experience a range of emotions. It is then when some of my deepest reflections come to me. My painting puts me in the state of temporary meditation, which I like to call a Zone. It is a special place where artist finds himself in peace with himself and the outside world. On many occasions it is also a painful experience since solitude brings a wide range of unfiltered truth to heart.
March 16, 2007, Torres del Pain, Chile
I spent the night by the side of the country road near Puerto Natales. It is a small town on the edge of the fiord. From here I already could see rising mountains of Torres del Paine. After getting some supplies in town I continued north across rolling hils. In the horizon magnificent mountain ranges were shimmering in sunlight. Here and there the landscape was dotted with emerald green lakes. After a while I stopped to paint an incredible view, but soon enough discovered a new challenge in painting. Half way through my painting amazingly strong winds started to blow from the north. Its strength in no time overturned my easel and knocked my dirty turps all over the nearly finished painting! So that was end of that session. For next time, I learned to keep low to the ground and avoid using my tripod. I don't like losing paintings that way, but it is just Mother Nature. When I finally arrived at the park it was late afternoon. There was a beautiful campground right under the spectacular view of the towers (Torres). It was nice to finally be still and not drive any more. As I looked at these legendary mountains, I realized that I dreamt of visiting this place since I was a young boy. In grade 5 geography class I saw the views of those mountains and learned some facts about Patagonia. Already then I made myself a promise that I will come here. It is like seeing a famous painting for the first time. I am just trilled. To celebrate I exposed my self once again to the force of the wind and painted a panoramic view of the Torres in the evening light. It was a day worth remembering.
March 15, 2007 Magallanes, Chile
I crossed the Argentine-Chile border with out any difficulty. People are really friendly here. I continued north toward the Baha Azul to catch a ferry across the Strait of Magellan. As I continued north the landscape became flat with wide expanses of steppe. The views were not unlike those in Alberta, also dotted with oil wells. The roads are mostly gravel here and dust is unbelievable. As I drove I saw convoys of trucks bringing gas and supplies to southern Argentina, otherwise traffic is really sparse. For the night I found a beautiful campsite overlooking the southwestern plains. As morning came I woke up with the warm sun hitting my tent. It was perfect morning, calm, full of bird's songs. I painted the view fascinated by the play of light on tall grasses in the foreground. I am truly enjoying the benefits of digital technology. In the same day I paint, photograph and forward my work trough email and You, as viewers are able to see it within a day on this site! After I crossed the Strait, which only took half an hour, I continued west to Punta Arenas. It is large city that had its peak of importance during the time before the Panama Canal was open. It is there that major ships from all over the world dock and pass by to either side of the ocean. In the city I went in the search of turpentine, which proved to be a little bit of a challenge especially with the limited Spanish that I have. But I left with 4 litres and I am set till the end of the trip. For rest of the evening I continued north to Puerto Natales, which is a gate way to Torres del Paine Park.
March 14, 2007, Rio Grande, Argentina
Today I left Ushuaia on my way to Chile. It was a beautiful drive through Tierra del Fueago Mountains. I continued along the lake Fagnano through the village of Tolhuin north to Rio Grande City on the coast of Atlantic Ocean. As I was driving north the landscape change dramatically to rolling hills finally opening to huge open prairies stretching all the way to the ocean. I passed through enormous cow and horse ranches without a soul around. In the afternoon I stopped at a beautiful vista and painted the rolling hills with mountains in the far horizon. It is definitely vast country not unlike the provinces of Alberta or BC. Most of the roads are gravel so I feel like at home driving through northern Canada.
March 13, 2007,Ushuaia, Argentina
Today I was exploring the vicinity of the town of Ushuaia. This is a port town located on Beagle Channel surrounded by Tierra de Fuego Mountains. Today was also a day of preparation for a trip north through Chile and then on to Argentina to visit some of the National Parks. The weather so far is fantastic, sunny and warm. I am still overwhelmed by my experience in the Antarctic. It was so far the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in my life; its beauty is so majestic that I feel so humbled and honoured to witness it. The connection of wildlife and the land itself is so breathtaking and continuity and single necessity of life here is heart stopping. Observing penguins is a great lesson in life, the endurance that those creatures have against the harshest environment on earth is truly inspiring as is the commitment they have to each other and the collective. The connection they have with their mates and their young offsprings is truly inspirational. In Paradise Bay I observed whales breaching the water surface against gigantic glaciers feeding into the ocean and was astonished at the beauty of Mother Nature. Tomorrow, Patagonia!!!
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