The trek’s most arduous leg came when both my resolve and strength were at their lowest. I had already covered over 10 kilometers of steep incline, yet the towers beckoned, still hidden from view by the last mountain face that confronted me. The weather had been uncharacteristically generous, her blue skies holding. It was now up to me to negotiate the 45-minute clamber through the moraine.
The panorama that spread out before me was the most mesmerizing mountain scene I had ever beheld. Three spires protruded, standing guard like sentinels over an amphitheater of red and brown boulders and high granite walls encircling a glacial lake. The base of the long stony fingers seemed to leak white flour.
Few vistas rivaled this. This was a great day. It felt good to be alive. I spotted Matt at a lake’s edge, at the bottom of the lookout point. He had gone ahead, a canister perhaps emptied at last. Its contents—vestiges of laughter, smiles, sorrows, hopes, dreams, of a shared life cut short, presently transfigured into black soot, or dissolved in the tarn’s clean turquoise, or carried by the wind to forever and finally settle everywhere. I knew better than to join him. I left him alone with his solace. I suppose it was a good day for farewells as well. In Patagonia, or anywhere else for that matter, there are no guarantees. «