I peered out the plane window as we descended upon Navarino Island. Hovering over an isolated expanse of Chilean Patagonia raised the hairs on my neck. We were entering an unforgiving, yet magnificent landscape. Untouched and enchanting and terrifying for an amateur hiker like me.
I had only heard of Navarino Island a few months ago.
Tooth-like jagged peaks of the mountain range for which the trek gets its name loomed above Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world.
Dientes de Navarino: a fifty-three-kilometer trek with rocky-edged cliffs, slippery, mud-laden inclines, boulder-sized rock trails, and four grueling mountain passes.
I would be at the mercy of Patagonia’s unpredictable climate and my own mental toughness on a trek that only 200 or so people attempt each year. Weather would span the spectrum: from sunshine to downpour, high winds to hail, strong breezes to snow. Temperatures would drop as low as 30℉ at night, and rise to just above 50℉ during the day. And this was summertime, the only season the trail was accessible.
Remote wilderness, a few other hikers and our group of five: my boyfriend Daniel, his best friend Ryan, Felipe, Felipe’s girlfriend Paula, and me.
Why did I not prepare like I usually do for trips? Reading and reading and researching and consuming loads of information. I think maybe because it was so uncharted for me, so drastically different and new. Backcountry is a whole new world with its own set of cultural norms and colloquialisms. But I welcome the challenge.
In a way, it was kind of like teaching in Brazil and learning Portuguese after chasing the depths of the Spanish language from Spain to Colombia. Familiar enough, yet so completely new: just within my realm of possibility. And so, I went.