Gap: Reflecting on Spring Trek 2022

I am writing this just as the stars peek out and the 12 of us get ready for our last night spent in Chile. The anticipation of going home alongside the memories of the past three months are bubbling up in the Coyhaique hostel tonight. We’ve been recounting moments of laughter and struggle, and thanking the people who have carried us through these past months. 

As I travel for the next three days with my bag stuffed and my journal full I know that I have a lot to think about. One thing is how to answer the inevitable and seemingly impossible question: “So, how was it?” I feel speechless when posed with this. There are a million places to begin my answer and no place to properly end it. I guess I could start with the facts. We walked a lot. We walked in the rain and the snow and the sun and when our feet hurt and when we couldn’t stop smiling. We walked on trails and off trails, over passes and saddles, and through valleys carved by glaciers older than we could imagine. We oriented our maps and primed our stoves and tied our rations bags with arguably the perfect tightness. But we did so much more than just walk. 

We spoke and listened to each other deeply. We interacted with Patagonia in an incredibly intimate way, getting to know all the welcoming people and beautiful landscapes as our wandering roots found places to call home in a foreign country. We shed the parts of ourselves that did not fit just as the Lenga trees shed her leaves for the winter. It got colder and we huddled closer together under the group tarp, unraveling the memories of our separate and distant lives as we reached out to each other. Listening and learning with every breath taken in the woods. And we learned so much. About each other, and ourselves, but also about the world around us. I learned how to say thank you and to express gratitude. To give feedback, because feedback is love. To ask questions, even if we won’t get the answers. 

I felt the earth come alive with questions as we discussed environmental studies and stepped in the freezing glacial stream with an impeller for the sake of science. It’s a beautiful thing to be curious again, and have that curiosity nurtured by those around you. And we all nurtured and supported one another. We were intentional about our love since the moment Syd wrote out our community norms on her Tyvek. And we carried that heavy love with us in our svelt backpacks through the valleys and the peaks and the blisters and the bogs and the community meetings and the bosque. Like I said before, there is no good way to end my answer to this question of “how was it”. I hope that the changes in me will be visible to those at home, and that the glacial water that cleansed me will take forever to leave my body. Maybe with the perspective of deep time, we can all look at this trip as a minuscule moment buried in the span of eternity. However, to me and to everyone else next to me, falling asleep under the southern cross tonight, Patagonia has gotten under our skin and etched its lessons into the folds of our lives for the rest of time.  

Thank you, HMI. 


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