Photo: Canoa Films
The Wild is Life
What is the wild for you?” I was asked yesterday during dinner by a couple of cyclists at La Posta de Los Toldos, the inn where I am staying, in the Cañadón Pinturas section of Patagonia Park, Argentina. I had come with Guchi, my co-equipper, and sister-in-law, to survey the trails with the eyes of an experienced runner and see if it would be possible to hold a mountain race here.
I am a mountain guide, and I can assure you that even Europeans or North Americans—who are more familiar with this type of landscape—will not believe what they see when they come to the northwest of Santa Cruz Province. To enter such vast spaces with immeasurable vistas, to discover nearly tame wildlife at each turn, framed by volcanic plateaus, hidden canyons, lakes, and lagoons, and to have all of this open to the public, is not common.
Tomás Roy Aguiló gets ready to share a night with the wild critters who have inhabited the Pinturas River Canyon since ancient times. Photo: Canoa Films.
“What is the wild for you?” The question pops into my head as I finish climbing a steep final ascent to a volcanic mesa on what would be the first leg of the race, the Koi Trail. It’s 6:50 in the morning, and it’s one degree Celsius on the edge of the Sumich Plateau.
At the top of Sumich, I hunker down and rest a bit, hydrate, and eat a bunch of nuts as I contemplate the landscape, trying to recognize some of the peaks aligned on the horizon. “Look how beautiful the San Lorenzo looks today,” I say aloud, although there’s no one here to listen. Within the Park, you can travel several kilometers on foot, by bike, or by car without meeting other humans; but surely you will come across wild fauna: Darwin’s rheas, guanacos, armadillos, pericotes, chinchillones (vizcachas), condors, more rheas, fox, skunks, eagles, bandurrias (black-faced ibises), flamingos, and a group of four pumas! (On the way back, I also met humans—Javi and Sol—who are staying in the room next to me at “La Posta”; they greeted me as they rode by on their bikes.)
An Andean condor flies over the rocky walls of the Pinturas River Canyon. Photo: Hernán Povedano.
“The wild is motivation.” Now, this morning, an answer appears in my head facing the last group of stone steps at La Guanaca Trail, near the top of Cerro Amarillo. I reach the summit smoothly while a wind gust hits me on the face and activates my tear ducts. Elated, happy, vital, I take a 360 view, and I smile at a couple of curious condors that circle above me, soaring closer and closer as if greeting me, welcoming me.
Now the answer comes out like a whisper of awe—“the wild is life.”