After a solid (and much needed) night of sleep, we headed off to the French Valley – named for the hikers who discovered it - for our last official trek in Patagonia. On our way, we saw a huge pack of guanacos, which look a little like llamas and are everywhere across the countryside. I had to be convinced to go since I was so sore from our hike the day before. We stopped at Salto Grande for another view from the top and take a boat to Lago Pehoe – a breathtaking blue-green lake. The boat served hot chocolate for the passage, which only took about 30 minutes or so. Again, amazing hospitality! We geared up and headed off (with a little grumbling from me because my feet were still sore) but much to our pleasant surprise it was a much easier and still beautiful vista hike. We made it to Campo Italiano and enjoyed lunch sitting on the rocks on the river. As we were eating, an avalanche happened right before our eyes. We heard the low rumbling we were starting to get accustomed to, and just saw the snow drifting down afterwards. As we started to head back down to make it to our boat in time, the signature Patagonian winds picked up – our first time experiencing since Punta Arenas. It was amazingly refreshing and even knocked us off balance a few times! As we started our final descent with a view of Lago Pehoe we happened upon our last Patagonian treat - two Andean condors flying right above the winds. I could see their white necks and white wings as they went by overhead. They are as big as three meters (ten feet) wingspan and I’m pretty sure one of them looked right at me as he flew directly overhead. Even our guide was astounded, as he had only seen these birds a handful of times since they are almost extinct. We headed to the park lodge to wait for the boat, and grabbed two Austral beers to enjoy while taking in the incredible wind and fresh air. On the boat, it was time for hot chocolate #2 but I was so exhausted that I fell right to sleep. It was our final night so after dinner, and more good talks with our newfound friends, we exchanged emails, hugs, well wishes (and cold medicine!) with our fellow travelers. But one more surprise was in store for us. With the moon less bright, the stars were visible and we truly saw them all – they blanketed the sky! Very tired, we headed right to bed to get ready for our trip to Argentina.
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