Walking down the trail to the world’s most famous glacier, I thought I knew what to expect. I’d seen glaciers in Iceland, as well as in the Cascade mountains around Seattle, and on countless postcards and photos. I knew it would be massive, beautiful and snowy white with shades of blue, and I knew I’d think it was stunning. So, I was surprised when turning a bend I found myself absolutely blown away- mesmerized- by what lay before me: Perito Moreno, a megalith of compressed ice, loomed in the distance until it disappeared into the clouds. It creaked and cracked, a living organism of blue and white shards. My high expectations were exceeded infinitely by the real thing. Even from a distance, I could barely believe what I was seeing. It was the single most beautiful thing I have ever encountered, and no picture does it justice. I was immediately transported to the majestic and impregnable “Wall” in the Game of Thrones book, except this was the real deal.
I could tear my eyes away only for milliseconds at a time, just long enough to glance at the path I was hurrying down to get nearer. A few minutes later I heard a thunderous crack and witnessed a jagged sheet of ice dislodge itself in slow motion, slowly, slowly breaking away until it crashed into the murky blue water below, accompanied by a most unexpected sound, like a canon firing off a round. I was still far away, and didn’t realize the magnitude of the ice fall until I closed the distance between myself and the glacier. It stood out of the water at an unbelievable 50 meters (150 feet), with supposedly an even greater distance plunging deep into the lake.
After a couple of hours Rob and Kath left, and although I had stared in wonderment the whole afternoon, I still couldn’t tear myself away. I stayed until dinnertime, and would ride the cold and windy 80km back to El Calafate on my own, hoping to never forget what it was like to stand there, frozen in time. There wasn’t one moment I wasn’t awe-struck by the sight and sounds of the imperceptibly encroaching glacier, waiting for car and building sized chunks of ice to plummet into the watery depths with a deafening crack and deep explosion.
Had I ridden my motorcycle 5,000 km from Santiago just to see this glacier, it would have been worth it.