Paul and Alice Arthur’s Excellent Patagonia Adventure

The Meet Your Neighbor feature on the new SVPOA website is going to be fun and interesting way to get to know each other  ….  we are after all an interesting bunch !    We are going to reach out to all of you to share a bio … a little of your history …  and we would love to see some old Squaw / Tahoe photos as well.  We also would like to for all of you to share some recent adventures with us.

We are going to start with the SVPOA Board members and who better than our senior Squaw Valley guru Paul Arthur and his lovely wife Alice

Paul arrived in Squaw Valley in November of 1957  (!)   – see what I mean.

Paul ski-bummed that winter and then worked for Diversified Builders, in the drafting Dept. on the buildings for the 1960 Olympics, eventually starting his own design & build business, all the while teaching and coaching skiing.  Paul raised two children, with his first wife, who passed away 28 years ago. Paul married Alice 25 years ago and in his own words  “shares the joy of life together, working and traveling the special places in the world, and gathering 11 grandchildren, in the mutually blended family”.

 Alice, came to Squaw Valley, as a single parent, with 3 children, in 1976, never to return, to the Arizona desert.  She taught PE in the Tahoe Truckee School system, for 20 years, before retiring to run the office end of Paul’s Business. Life has been spent here, and on the big island of Hawaii,  living it to the fullest, and volunteering to help those in need.   “Traveling, and learning from the people of the world, has been one of our greatest joys, with Patagonia being our most recent”.

 Let’s join Paul and Alice in Patagonia.

After a year in the planning, with great help, and advice from Eddy & Osvaldo Ancinas, we were off to Buenos Aires on February 21.

All of our choices for locations and lodging, we chose on line, with our bookings made through a great agency in Buenos Aires, called “Say Hueque”, and they were great. Without this agency, our transportation, and activity schedules would have been a disaster.

Three days in Buenos Aires were filled with a  Tango dinner show, a great visit and dinner at new local friends home, and touristing around the city, including a visit to Eva Peron,s grave mauseleum.  We were ready for the flight out of the heat to Bariloche.

Bariloche,  in the lake district was a superspot, as we expected, especially our lodging on the Nahuel Haupi lakefront, called Lirolay.  With a week here, we tried it all, with hiking up the ski area, a perfect, dead flat kayaking day, on Lago Mascardi, with no other boats, and a class 3/4  whitewater paddle, down the Manso River, which was far more than Alice wanted, but she survived.  Not to be missed, was a old yatch boat trip up the Brazo Tristeza, with a hike to waterfalls, similar to the Sierra.. After a week, we were off, flying yet further south, to El Califate, the heart of many Glaciers.

El Califate, is a typical tourist town, full of shops, and varied restaurants, with our choice spot being a healthy place called Pura Vida.  Our lodging here was a garden house, on a converted golf course called Los Sauces, which was beyond our hopes.  This town, is the main center, to visit Glacier  National Park, and  the Perito Merino , and Upsala Glaciers.  The trip to the Glacier, was two hours, by van, then an hour across Lago Argentino ( ten times the size of Tahoe) to the two mile long wall of the Perito Marino Glacier. The lake was dotted with icebergs, including one large blue one, caused by lack of air, and walls above, reaching 200 ft.

This glacier is one of the few, that is still growing, not receding.

After 4 days in Califate, the adventure heads south by van, to the southern hemispheres climbing & hiking capital of El Chalten.

A dusty road leads from highway 1 to the almost summer only village of Chalten, and the spactacular Cero Torre mountain range, with the 6,300 ft. wall of Fitzroy, looming in the upper valley.  Our hotel here, is the legendary El Puma, at the start of the trail ( Sendero) to Lago Los Tres, 8  miles up, at the base of the walls.

The main street is unpaved , 3 lanes wide, with almost no cars, but perhaps a hundred backpackers, facing the wind and dust, coming up or down, from the mountains, all day.  After a rest day, we are on the trail, for a recon hike to the upper plateau. The trail is long, but not too steep, until the switchbacks of Lago Los Tres, another day.  The next day, we are off kayaking, on the gently Rio De Los Vuleta, with new friends, who own a remote resort at the upper end of the valley, called Aguas Ariba Lodge.  We choose instead to spend a night at El Pillar Hosteria, at the remote eastern edge of the park, for the sunrise view of Fitzroy, in glowing red color. This was the day, Paul decided to hike, to the base of Fitzroy, then back to El Pillar, while Alice went to the viewpoint, on the Sendero.  A muscle pulling slip, made this day, much too long, for me. After a week in Chalten, it was time to take a van to our southwestern most point in the trip, Torres Del Paine, in Chile, and the world heritage site of Tierra Patagonia.

After hours in a van, and a very slow border crossing, we reach the amazing location of the Tierra Patagonia, some 25 miles from anything else, and right at the entrance to Torres Del Paine National Park.  The lodge being 1,800 long, it was only visible at the last moment of approach, as it blended in so well  into the surrounding landscape. This all inclusive resort was the base for day hikes into the remote parts of Torres del Paine Park, which is as large as Yosemite, but almost no visitors, due to its remote location.  The area is loaded with animals & birds, with the balance being fed by the herds of Guanacos, and consumed by the 100 or so, fat Pumas. The air, seems to be full of Condors & Parakeets, feeding on the scraps, left by the mountain lions.  The hiking is very remote, and desolate, but spectacular, with little sign of other people. Each days hike was amazing, and the last one long & tough, but well worth it, for the beauty, and majesty.

After four days, in the most remote of wilderness ,it was time to van back to Argentina, and one more night in Califate, before the flight back north, to Buenos Aires, and the final adventure of our trip, the Gaucho land of San Antonio de Areco.

Our final lodging, the Parador Dragna, was a boutique hotel, connected to a family gold and silver horse harness makers shop, dating back 300 years, where the best gold and silversmith art in the world is made. The history, of gaucho/cowboy beginning is here, and little has changed, in all that time.  Even, the smallest piece, from this shop, is treasured, by the cowboys of the world.

The village, of San Antonio De Areco, is much like walking back into time, with little changed in 200 years.  We spent a day, on an estancia called Ombu, with a carriage ride, music, a giant meal, and a demonstration of the gaucho and horse, love for each other, that you would hardly believe, then sadly, a flight back home, the next morning.

Most certainly, Patagonia, is to visited, and loved. If you wish to see our trip, through a small photo album, just ask.

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  • Gailyn johnson on March 5, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Looks like a fabulous yet potentially exhausting trip! Looking forward to hearing more about it! Welcome back?