We entered Jackson Bay in light rain and wispy low clouds; views were coming and going just enough to expose the fresh dusting of spring snow on the mountain peaks. Early in the morning the team headed out to assess conditions on the beach. At the start of the landing we were blessed with a high tide. Almost sixty of us had chosen to take the long hike up the valley. As we came ashore we separated into small groups and headed out with members of the expedition team.
The first challenge was navigating the gauntlet of elephant seals. The females and pups were up high on the beach resting, but coming and going were several large males, all attempting to negotiate a good position near the females. Once past the beach and the piles of slippery driftwood, we walked a “game trail” created by the local guanacos. Different groups saw different things as we explored the valley: some encountered a pair of Magellanic woodpeckers, and others had a glimpse of said guanacos climbing the ridge away from us. Meanwhile on the other side of the river, a group headed to the waterfall; along the way they had a unique encounter with a chilla, the Patagonian gray fox.
On our return, almost everyone participated in a massive plastics beach cleanup. By the end we filled an entire Zodiac with rubbish that we collected just off of the landing beach itself. By now the tide had gone out, and we had a substantial walk to get back to the Zodiacs and a well-deserved lunch. Thoroughly soaked from the morning’s rain, we returned to a welcoming atmosphere back on board; we enjoyed warming soup and time to rest as the ship transited to our afternoon’s destination in Ainsworth Bay.
As the afternoon progressed, the sun came out and we enjoyed an easy walk along a freshly refurbished boardwalk. The walk flowed through the forest, past hanging gardens, a waterfall, beaver ponds, and then back out to the beach and the beautiful ice-filled bay — which only a century ago was under the ice.
Back on board after a very full day, we swapped stories about our adventures, enjoyed a cocktail together, and settled in for a full recap. We discussed the elephant seals, microplastics, “not a beech, beech tree,” the observations of our diving team, and our plans for the coming day. Tired, but not exhausted, we headed off to dinner with anticipation of tomorrow’s activities at Aguila Glacier. More hiking and more ice in our future — all the beauty of Patagonia.