Week 2 - RAIN & then glacier fun in the SUN

Highlights
D: Kayaking around the glacier & with Dad
R: Kayaking alone & with Mom
Jon: Glacier gazing
Megan: Kayaking around the glaciers, standing on ice

The theme for week 2 seemed to be rain, rain and more rain. We had some drizzle moving into Seno Pia and then we had 2+ days of solid rain. We did our best to use the time well - multiple game tournaments, school work, baking, some random boat work and chores. But somewhere in day 3 things got a bit more difficult and we were all more than a little stir crazy. There were arguments about how Spades should be played and new house rules are in deep negotiations before any new Spades games can be played. The boys are up on the parents, but when the parents started using similar tactics all hell broke loose.

Halloween Saturday started off with a bit of blue sky and some sun so we decided to make the most of it - and charge up the boat batteries - with a trip up the Western Arm of Seno Pia to check out the Guilcher glacier. When we ventured up this arm, back in February, we took the crew of Sea Rover II with us, but we were not able to get very close to the face due to all the ice. This year we may have gotten a bit more brave and there was less ice in the seno, so we successfully made it all the way up to the glacier faces. There are actually 3 glacier tongues that descend from the Darwin Cordillera (Ice Cap): one that comes in from the right and one from the left (these join at the water), then there is a dirty (black), gravel and rock covered, maybe dying, glacier tongue that feeds in the middle, as well. The drizzle returned by the time we arrived, but we still enjoyed the diversion and outside time. The winds off the glaciers are quite cold so we were all bundled up, drinking hot chocolate. The boys collected ice and we all witnessed some decent calving events. At theses glacier faces, there was quite a bit of ice in the water making us quite happy with our sturdy aluminum hull as we pushed some decent sized growlers around. After we all declared ourselves sufficiently cold, we returned to the same anchoring spot back in the Eastern Arm. The next day proved dreary and rainy yet again, with only glimpses of the sun. Though the afternoon did clear and was nice enough for kayaking and some ice gathering in the bay to keep everyone's sanity.

Monday we planned to go up the Eastern Arm to visit more of the Romanche glacier, and the sun came out! It was spectacular. We took the short trip up with Zephyros and launched a kayak. There wasn't as much ice in this arm and we were all much warmer with the sun out, though the breeze off of the glaciers remained quite chilly. It was another amazing spot for lunch (this is now the standing joke that we keep picking such "horrible" lunch spots - yeah, we know we are very, very lucky! Even the rainy, stir-crazy days are still a blessing.)

The Eastern Arm has a large glacier tongue at the head of it as well as a tongue that feeds lower down and is visible from the anchorage. Yet another tongue of this glacier (Romanche) is visible directly from the Beagle Channel. After kayaking around the glacier, taking lots of pictures and standing on some ice, we headed back down the Eastern Arm and anchored close to the face of the mid arm glacier tongue. We shut off the engine and hung out for a few hours. It was amazing. We saw some more good calving and the boys kayaked about. Jon and I talked about kayaking or taking the dinghy but we settled in on deck relaxing and never felt the need to do anything differently. Eventually, we headed back, yet again, to our anchorage spot. We then decided the weather was so good and clear that we better head up the hiking trail behind the boat. We scrambled up the hill and enjoyed sunset views across the seno and the Romanche glacier. We enjoyed some snacks and an adult beverage (for the parents). The boys headed down a bit before us reveling in their independence. We followed shortly after taking more photos as we descended and as the color got a bit more pink. The days are getting long, so it was after 8:30pm and still just starting to be dusk when we returned to the boat and started dinner. It turned into a bit of a late night.

The next morning it was overcast and we started slowly with some sourdough pancakes (our starter - Ada - is doing great!). We then got organized and took a kayak and the dinghy over to the mid arm Romanche glacier tongue, close to the anchorage. It was about 2 miles away so it was a good paddle and lengthy ride in our inflatable dinghy (it would have been much faster / easier with a hard bottom dinghy and larger outboard, but these are the compromises of boating). R & Megan paddled over and the sun came out making the paddle quite scenic and warm. D & Jon chased to make sure the kayakers were fine throughout the trip. We all arrived over at the glacier. R got out of the kayak and D joined Megan. They paddled around getting closer and closer to the glacier - the closer that you get, the farther away you realize you actually are! The dinghy was parked around where we saw a cruise ship disembark their RIBs last year when we were visiting this glacier tongue on dinghies with Sea Rover II. D & Megan parked the kayak much further down the rock over towards the side of the glacier face. We all hiked up to a nice rock overlook, enjoyed snacks and glacier gazing. Jon & D went on to kayak about while R & Megan stayed to watch the glacier. It was making a lot of noise, but as much as we tried to will it to calve, it did not do anything big, just little bits fell here and there. After awhile, we all headed back towards the dinghy and on the walk back on the very interesting rock face, we caught a glimpse of the path that the cruise ships use - we all decided that we had to venture up it. This path was the most developed hiking path we have seen. It had fixed ropes; arranged rock; seamless moss edges; a few wooden bridges over water runs; and it practically looked like it had been swept! Impressive for being in the complete wilderness, it had a Zen garden feel with Bonsai-like trees surrounded by tufts of moss neatly placed in the midst of the smooth rock path. We had thought that the cruise ship passengers walked up to a flat rock that you could see from the water as a viewing platform, but after reaching this viewing rock we saw that a less trafficked path continued on. Here it became clear that someone must have recently been out tending this path - we don't know who does this, CONAF (the park authority), local guides, or a cruise ship company. There was fresh surveyors' tape, the occasional footprint and new guidelines. We expect we may be the only others to use the path this year in these COVID times, and deeply appreciated this unique opportunity. The path definitely became more technical after the viewing rock, but it was still well groomed, obvious, and featured lots of rope hand holds / borders. It made for a fast ascent and we arrived at a nice rocky highpoint where you could see the glacier tongue at the north end of the Eastern Arm, and an interesting, high view across the mid arm tongue. The Romanche glacier is quite impressive! We enjoyed this spot for a bit and then headed back down while listening to a lot more rumblings from the glacier. We stopped at the viewing rock platform and then returned back to our dinghy and kayak. Jon & D were up to paddle back. They went and stood on some grounded ice, checked out birds on rocks, and R & Megan took the dinghy back, chasing them to ensure all remained well. It was a bit more challenging trip back to the boat with a little wind and some small chop, but they made it just fine and even saw some dolphins! It was another great adventure. We were quite happy that we had decided to go up the hill the day before as we all returned tired and there was more cloud cover by evening. We enjoyed drinks, with ice, on deck to round out the day and a fabulous end to the week!

Week 2 definitely went from a rainy start to something quite spectacular. We all look forward to seeing what week 3 brings.

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