Whoever said that photographs don’t lie is a liar. Photographs lie all the time. A photograph can tell you that the person that you met on Yahoo dating is nice looking, when he has actually been disfigured by an accident. A photograph taken from arm’s length can tell you that I have an enormous double chin which I don’t believe I possess. And a photograph can tell you that Mount Fitzroy is just another mountain that doesn’t have any special features to recommend it. No matter how hard I try, I cannot capture an image of Mount Fitzroy that tells the truth about it.
There is no shortage of stunning mountains in the world, but for one reason or another, I fell hard for Mount Fitzroy. Mount Fitzroy’s features mimic the faces of the glaciers that it presides over; great chunks have been cleaved from its face over time. From far away the rock is a light camel color and a soft gray like that of a field mouse. When the afternoon sun shines on it and you get closer, the color changes to bright copper and steely gray. The entire peak is dusted with snow making it look like an elaborate pastry served in a chic restaurant. I just couldn’t get enough of what I affectionately call “The Fitz.” But to get the best view of The Fitz, we needed to go up to Lago de los Tres.
The hike to Lago de los Tres was long and steep by my standards, but I was determined to push through it because on the other side was a view of two glacial lakes, the glacier itself, and best of all an unparalleled view of Mount Fitzroy. This trail didn’t have any nice little flat spots that I could use to catch my breath – this was just a straight climb up. The trail was crowded and wet and the wind was blowing hard as usual, so it wasn’t ideal for Adam to be stopping and waiting for me when I fell behind. Eventually he had to leave me some water and continue to the top to wait for me there. This time I didn’t have anyone to make me press on when I got tired or nervous. I just had to continue to tell myself to keep climbing. I passed by a small stream of water cascading over a staircase of rock and I wanted to stick my head underneath the water and drink and drink until every cell in my body was saturated and I exploded. Keep climbing. A gnat drowned in the sweat pouring down my forehead. Keep climbing. To my left a ragged mountaintop rose up out of nowhere like a horned toad rising from the desert sand. Finally I saw what I thought was the peak right up ahead of me. When I reached it I realized that I was not quite there yet. I looked up and saw Adam standing on the actual peak, which wasn’t that much farther in the grand scheme of things, and waving. There is nothing better than completing a difficult task and then seeing the man you love waiting for you at the end, framed by the glorious scenery that you are about to explore together. As I climbed up the last few meters, tears of gratitude filled my eyes. My life at these moments seems nothing less than perfect.
We had lunch at the edge of the aquamarine lake which was glowing powerfully under the gaze of the glacier. And as if Lago de los Tres wasn’t fantastic enough, we climbed up a little higher to Lago Sucia where I was honestly stunned speechless. The view overlooking Lago Sucia is one of those that leaves you bereft of all intelligent speech and only allows you to say inane things like, “Wow,” and “Oh my God,” and “Holy shit this is beautiful.” I don’t know how we got the motivation to leave.
On the way back down, I passed two girls who looked the same way that I felt on my way up. One asked me wearily, “Is is much farther?”
“No,” I said encouragingly. “It’s just a little farther. You have to keep going – it’s absolutely amazing. If I can do it, so can you.”
I have no idea if that was true or not, but it probably was. And anyway, I couldn’t let them pass up the opportunity to see that view for themselves. Everyone should see it.
After we had climbed down from the peak, we took the long way back past a lake with a magnificent beach with not another soul nearby. This struck us as a good opportunity to relax before heading back, so we just sat by the lake, soaking up the silence that was only broken by the creak of a cricket or the zipping of a dragonfly (which, contrary to what my mother told us when we were little, will not sew your mouth shut if given the opportunity).
This is an extreme digression, but I thought since I was talking about things in The Big Book of Lies That Parents Tell, that I would mention this because it was so clever and devious. My parents were more truthful than most, I think, but when I was little my mother told me that the truck (that I would come to recognize as the ice cream truck) that drove by every couple of days was in fact the music truck. And being four or five years old, I felt it was totally plausible that the job of the man in the truck was to spread joy to the people of the neighborhood by driving around playing an eerily tuneless version of “Pop Goes the Weasel.” Later, a neighbor tipped me off to the fact that the “music truck” actually carried delicious frozen treats like Rocket Pops and Its Its that could be obtained in exchange for money. Ha! The jig is up, mom. Spot me fifty cents—I need a Choco Taco pronto. (End of digression).
As we hiked back to the cabin I thought about how I had so rashly crossed “mountain climber” off of my list of back-up professions. I had done pretty well this time. Maybe I’ll just pencil it back in.