The UFO friend in Patagonia
It was 11:00 PM; we were on the beach of Los Cuernos refuge, sharing stories with fellow travelers and some of the refuge staff. The mighty River Bader flowed to our left, the beautiful Lake Nordenskjöld stretched out in front, and the imposing The Cuernos stood tall behind us.
Suddenly, a light appeared in the distance, moving towards the river. How odd. It’s forbidden to hike the trails of Torres del Paine at night. Except for that one trail.
As you walk from Central to Los Cuernos refuge, you encounter trails for people and trails for horses that intersect along the way.
The trail for people, as you approach Los Cuernos refuge, ends at a bridge that crosses the Bader River. On the other hand, there’s the horse trail, which, as you approach Refugio Cuernos, ends with the horse crossing at the Bader River (without a bridge).
The approaching light was from the horse trail. Even strangers were seeing horses on the move at night.
As the light advanced, speculations began. It’s a UFO, which was the most repeated. It’s a lost hiker, the most accurate.
The light kept moving until it reached the riverbank. It stayed still for a few minutes. Then, it appeared to rise slightly and suddenly descended, disappearing.
We, the brave, hurried towards the mouth of the Bader River into Lake Nordenskjöld. And nothing. We couldn’t see anything.
Suddenly, emerging between the water and the treacherous rocks, was a lost hiker.
Completely soaked, still with a backpack on his back and a headlamp on his forehead.
He was a traveler who didn’t speak Spanish or English. We took him to the refuge, offered a hot shower, dry clothes, and towels. A hot midnight dinner was on the table, but he only wanted dry clothes and coffee.
In the least expected situations, the best friendships are made!
Paula Ortiz Herrera