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Full Circle

Day 157: The Beagle Channel

The Beagle Channel 
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Melting glaciers, Beagle Channel.
Michael Palin - Full CircleSlowly we leave its smudge of pollution behind and enter a world of natural wonders devoid of any human settlement. The southern coast of Tierra del Fuego is marked by a series of great turquoise glaciers, clinging to mountainsides turned away from the warming northern sun. Gravity-defying shelves of ice hang perilously suspended between jagged peaks before sagging and spilling into the valleys and beginning their slow, remorseless progress towards the sea. Cracks and crevasses show the effort of their progress - glacial stretch marks frozen into their muddy blue surface. As the glaciers near the sea streams of rubble and meltwater leak from beneath them and tumble off the mountain in a series of dizzying waterfalls.

It is majestic, endlessly inventive scenery - 'Nature's workshop', Darwin called it - and I stand on deck, unable to take my eyes off it, until finally driven below by the intense cold. As the sun sets so the weather begins to change. On the charts our captain shows me a short stretch of water called the Brecknock Channel where, for an hour or so, we shall be out of the cover of the islands and facing the full brunt of a Pacific storm system. He recommends we lash down the gear before we go to bed.

I insert myself into my bunk and around one o'clock we begin to feel the weather. For the next thirty or forty minutes the Pacific gives us a good thumping and I'm positively glad I have so little room in which to move.
The Beagle Channel 
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Braving the cold to take in the beauty. Beagle Channel.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 157
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: Brecknock Channel
  • Book page no: 216

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  • Pacific Ocean
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