Thursday, January 14, 2010

Torres del Paine, day 2

Rested up from Day 1 in Torres del Paine, we were pleased to see that day 2 dawned bright and sunny.

Lily takes a morning break to shed layers:
The weather in Patagonia was really variable, as was the trail. This meant that all day long, we were stopping to put on layers or take off layers as we got cold or hot. It was kind of a pain. Whine whine whine.

All day, clouds scudded along, but we didn't get any rain until late in the day. The main part of the Paine massif was coming into view. Here's a shot from noon-ish:

Here's a shocker: ...We saw more rocks!

Here's another graded bed:

And a little plumose structure, showing a nice twisty hackle fringe:
Plumose 1

When I first saw this outcrop, my brain's pattern-recognition center peeped: "CRINOID STEMS!"
...But upon closer examination, they lacked pentameral symmetry, and were some were kind of lumpy. And considering the main rock here is Cretaceous-aged, crinoids could be present, but they aren't as likely a candidate for fossilization as they would have been if these rocks were Paleozoic. So I think these were concretions of some kind. Chert? I shared this image with Patagonia geology expert Brian Romans, and he pointed out something I hadn't noticed in this image: the flame structure in the lower left. That indicates this boulder is upside-down, relative to its original depositional position.

Here's another concentrically-zoned jobbie, which I interpret as a concretion. Overall, this thing was like a pig-in-a-blanket, but on steroids:
I think it's a flint nodule. Brian hasn't seen any crinoids or any concretions in these rocks, so I'm at a loss to offer further explanation.

I was flummoxed by this one, too:
This time, the pattern-recognition center wanted it to be a trilobite, but that's impossible (or, strictly speaking, not impossible but history-re-writing-able) in these aged rocks. Brian tells me it's almost certainly an inoceramid bivalve. That works for me.
(...Or could it be... pseudosegments???)

We walked on, through fields of little white flowers:

Angling towards the main massif, more gnarly peaks came into view...

One thing you can see well in this shot is the contrast between the color of the darker Cretaceous-aged sedimentary host rocks (turbidites) and the light-pink-colored granite which intruded them around 12 million years ago (Miocene).

A bit further on, we could get a decent look at the intrusive relations (through binoculars):
(In this annotated photo, "T" is for "turbidite," "Gr" is for "granite.")

We dropped down off a moraine towards Refugio Dickson, where we made tea, rested a bit, and pushed on again...

At the head of Lago Dickson was an impressive looking glacier, dropped down out of the South Patagonian Ice Field and into the lake:

It was around 1pm when we got to Dickson. We were tired, but the day was only half over. We decided to push on, and essentially do two days' hiking in one. Next stop: Refugio Los Perros!

We hiked on through PRIME Magellanic woodpecker habitat, and it just KILLS me that I didn't see one there, though I did see a few other new birds. Then the rain started, and we started to get tired. But we were committed at this point... We pushed on, and on, and on, and on, climbing up through a forested valley, until finally we popped out on fresh glacial moraine, and saw this:
That's the Los Perros Glacier! A short distance further up the valley was the campground. At this point, the rain had morphed into snow, blasting us in the face as we slogged along, really looking forward to dinner and sleep. Maybe not in that precise order. Eventually, we got there.

Fortunately, the clouds parted for literally 5 minutes, and we were able to have our portrait taken by a doctor from Santiago, who was hiking there for Christmas with his family. They were literally the only Chileans we met who were in the park as tourists (i.e., not park employees or concessionaires) our entire trip. I think we look happy to be in such a special place, don't you?

Next up: Day 3, when we cross John Gardner Pass and see the Grey Glacier for the first time!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Great photos--looks like a fantastic place!

Re: photo #5, my brain's pattern recognition centre peeps "BELEMNITES!". Size is right, age is right, rock is right (siliciclastic, not carbonate), shape is right (the internal cavity of belemnite guards tapers toward the posterior (pointy) end; hence the different diameters of the internal "hole" as seen in the different cross sections. The fact that the cross-sections are all transverse (broken at right-angles to the length of the cylinder; hence the cylinders were lying parallel to each other) indicates to me that the belemnite guards were aligned/imbricated by currents--a good way of determining palaeocurrent direction, which I would guess would be either "into" or "out of" the plane of the photo.


January 14, 2010 4:36 PM  

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