I wake up to a grey sky, changing the landscape again in a dim grey and green tint. So far no rain, so I won’t complain. Taking down the tent is a bit of a struggle with the wind, but at about 10 a.m. I’m on my way again, curious about what’s ahead on the next stretch of Beagle Channel coastline.
The first surprise is another river crossing, this one broad but shallow at the coast. Maybe I get used to it, but the water now feels refreshing. Maybe it’s just because I need a bath. I fill up my water bottles and set off again. I now follow some truck tracks, sometimes muddy, usually ok. Again I walk through steppe valleys and along long beaches and there’s two more rivers to bathe my feet in. Fortunately none is very deep, and except from some splashing I keep my pants dry. The landscape is wild and empty, my only companions are the sea birds, a few cows and horses, small birds suddenly emerging from the bushes and the catamaran passing by on its way to the penguins nearby estancia Harberton.
As the morning ends, the sky breaks open and the scenery changes accordingly displaying vibrant colors. The next stretch of coast line is incredibly beautiful, with long beaches with peddles and driftwood, sea gulls, rocky cliffs on tiny peninsulas, green bushes, red trees, the dark blue sea, mountains on both sides and the clear, amazingly blue sky. I sit down for a while on top of a hill, taking in the scenery, eating a lunch of crackers and cheese, drinking the ice-cold mountain water.
I follow the coastline and tracks for a while, with the sun warming me. Behind me appear three English cyclists. We share some experiences on the road and I explain a bit of what’s ahead for them in Puerto Almanza. It’s funny how this wild nature makes me believe that I’m far away from civilization, when in fact I’m at only about 25 kilometers from Ushuaia. They take the track up from a small estancia outpost, I track back to the coast and up the rocks. There’s no trail here, as dead trunks and trees try to convince me. I climb the rocky cliff, but being high above the channel with some strong winds makes my knees a bit weak. Hit by vertigo… and I am no mountain goat either. However, the reward for my exploration comes when from the cliff emerges the rusty leftovers of the Monte Cervantes ship, basking in the sun. I head down, again facing stubborn trees, and enter a grassy slope leading to another estancia. My exploring leaves me with some scratches and marks and many little leafs and twigs stuck in my hair as I find out during the day.
Estancia Remolinos is now propriety of the Armada Argentina (navy), but earlier it belonged to the English family Lawrence. They were the first white permanent residents of Ushuaia in 1873 as part of the Anglican Mission. A small, hidden graveyard with simple white crosses holds their memory. The remaining estancia’s buildings, an oven, a freight boat and 4 cows are surrounded by a fence. I walk closer to the beach to take a good look at the shipwreck, scaring off a group of geese. On the other side of another river some rusty steal reminders of another area remain.
I eat some chocolate and nuts in the sun in a shallow hole hardly protecting me from the wind. Than I continue walking the track, but when it goes up closer to the mountains, I decide to walk closer to the beaches. To get there, I need to gross a valley of green bushes and tall grasses with some beaver activity. That alone should have warned me about the presence of water… I have to take some detours and jump the small streams to get up a hill that’s dividing the valley from the coast. A bit further on at about 5 p.m. I find a perfect spot for the night, just after a broken bridge, with plenty of fresh water and nice, rolling green hills. Again, the evening sun spreads its golden glow as I drink my tea, tired but satisfied. While it’s slowly getting dark, I’m surprised by a view of city lights; although completely submerged in nature for the last few days, civilization, and Ushuaia, is nearby. Slowly the sky is lit by stars, the number growing while it’s darkening. I’m in my sleeping bag, watching this natural phenomenon that is rare to be seen here in Tierra del Fuego. What a beautiful end to a beautiful day.