Friday, April 22, 2011

The Frances Valley

March 28, Monday
During the night I heard a crash of thunder and thought we were going to get a storm. In the morning D.S. told me that it had been ice falling from the glacier on Paine Grande. I had slept well until about 2 a.m. and then rather restlessly.

After a leisurely beginning and a breakfast of oatmeal and honey, we enjoyed a real cup of coffee, made in an ingenious push pot that included a generous sized cup and all packed neatly into one smallish container.

At 10:15 we got on the trail up the Frances
Valley. This was not as clear a trail as yesterday's and sometimes led over a boulder field. It's also continuously uphill, sometimes pretty steep.

About 1:15 we arrived at an open area from which we could see the surrounding mountain peaks. It was more than spectacular. We were blessed with sunshine there, though we had had light to moderate rain on the trail coming up. We took many

This particular picture was taken before we reached the top open area. It was a glimpse of the grandeur to come.

One of the amazing aspects of this mountain panorama was the fact that on our far left was the valley we had ascended, green and only getting ready for the fall season. Scanning from left to right took us first past
Paine Grande, a massive mountain with
glaciers and snowfields. Paine Grande was
totally wintry, even at the end of the summer season. It made us wonder what it would be like in the spring. It also was mist shrouded, reinforcing the image of winter.

When we looked directly in front of us, we saw the transition to a more moderate scene.

On this picture from left to right you see The Spear, and right next to it a little lower, The Dagger, and then the more massive Mask. They have snow on their lower reaches. Behind them in the further distance is the Fortress, and coming to the right are the Cuernos, The Horns. One of the Horns is more or less hidden behind the prominent one here. Yesterday's picture showed them as separate. At their foot was a treed area, still very green.

Both of Los Cuernos are massive yellow
"monuments" topped by black rock. D.S. could tell you more accurately what kind of rock they are. I just know that they were breathtaking in the brilliant sunshine that we enjoyed there. They shone in that light.

I was sitting looking at Paine Grande when D.S. called this Cuernos "the Prow" referring to the Prow of an ocean liner. I looked over my shoulder just as some light clouds scudded past the "Prow" and had the vertiginous sensation that IT not the clouds were moving, and that it was coming directly towards us.

Exhilarated by this fantastic climax of our hike up the Frances Valley, we turned around and started back down. The picture of the "prow" was taken on our way back down to the campground.
This is a view of the rushing Frances River.

Campground meals are quick and easy, this night a quick rice dish. I had a quick wash-up at an overflow pipe. Very cold, but it felt really good to clean up. Another quiet evening in the campground and to bed thankful for a wonderful day and a great hike.

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