In true spirits of adventure, Katie and I created an oath to explore the world together as much as possible! This commitment is so deep rooted that during our wedding vowels, we promised each other to go on one international EPIC adventure each year.
We carefully select our annual EPIC adventures based on aspirational gut feeling. It is a calling, often from nature and once we hear it, we go with open hearts and the full intensity that defines our lives. We love traveling to far off lands, embracing the local culture, experiencing the bounties of ecosystem diversity, and eating copious sums of meat.
This November, we made our pilgrimage to the majestic lands of Patagonia to run in the mountains, trek on glaciers, and visit the worlds most regenerative sheep ranch! The trip was 10 days of non-stop exploring in the most beautiful open country I have ever visited. Here are a few of our highlights.
Day 1-3: Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
The prize of Glacier National Park is the amazing Perito Moreno Glacier. Although most glaciers in the world are receding at alarming rates, the Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is actually growing. This massive glacier is 3 miles wide and over 500 feet deep!
The glacier Perito Moreno is beautiful enough to spend an entire day looking at from afar and the National Park has built amazing trails the circumnavigate most of the ice. Being the founders of a company called EPIC, we couldn't only view the glacier from afar, but rather we opted to trek on-top of it!
After trekking a few hours on top of a glacier, we enjoyed an EPIC bar. I was sure that we were the first people to ever eat an EPIC bar on top of a glacier, but quickly found out that one of our EPIC athletes, Timothy Olson, had beat us to that in Chamonix France this summer! Never the less, it was delicious.
The two most amazing parts of ice trekking are wearing crampons (and feeling like a wolverine) and drinking ice cold water fresh from the glacier! These glacier water pools are a deep pure blue and absolutely refreshing. Its not often that you have the opportunity to drink distilled water that has been frozen for around 300 years.
Day 3-5: Ovis XXI Sheep Ranch, Rio Gallegos Argentina (the end of the world)
In order to give our legs some much needed rest, we temporarily left the mountains and headed to the southern grasslands of costal Patagonia. On our EPIC adventures, Katie and I regularly try to visit an inspirational ranch that practices regenerative land management. Part of the reason we traveled to Patagonia was to visit a legendary family run sheep ranch called Ovis XXI. The ranch is located outside of Rio Gallegos and encompasses the entire 2.5 million acres on the southernmost tip of the continent.
At Ovis XXI, over 14,000 sheep are rounded up by every year by a team of gauchos on horseback and highly trained sheep herding dogs. Each animal is hand sheared and the wool is sold to the Patagonia Clothing Company. Patagonia Clothing has a long tradition of exceeding sustainable manufacturing practices and we have always supported the brand. It was amazing to see the land and animals in which some of my favorite clothes come from.
At Ovis XXI, guests stay at a 150 year old ranch house called Estancia Monte Dinero. It is open to the public year round and run by the same family that has managed the land for over 150 years. We ate fresh lamb and organic garden greens every night!
In addition to 14,000 sheep, Ovis XXI hosts its own colony of 90,000 Magellanic penguins that visit each summer to have babies and baste in the mild climates of costal Argentina. In true spirits of holistic land management, these penguins play a special role in the complex biodiversity of the ranch. As a result, they are allowed their own segmented land parcel free from sheep.
Day 5-10: El Chalten, The Heart of Patagonia
El Chalten is the self proclaimed hikers capital of Argentina and nestled in the most iconic segment of Patagonia. Deep inside Los Glaciares National Park you have access to endless views as well as trail heads to the famous Monte Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, and Torres del Paine National Park in neighboring Chile.
Here lies the heart of the majestic Patagonia lands and the essence of our trip to South America. Katie and I ran mountains every single day and covered over 75 miles of the most beautiful single track trails in the world.
Each night we replenished our bodies and spirits with traditional Argentinian cuisine that was fit for the most EPIC of carnivores. We made sure to consume nutrient dense organ meats each night and developed a newfound obsession with mollejas (thymus gland), tongue, and liver. In retrospect, Im not sure we could have passionately pursued the mountains day after day without binging on vitamin and mineral rich offal.
Our very favorite trail was the 18 mile loop that brought us to the base of Fitz Roy. This day was EPIC for numerous reasons including massive wind storms, serious elevation gain, and the best views of our entire trip!
This photo was taken in front of Monte Fitz Roy shortly before Katie threw down a Lamb bar and Taylor barrel rolled down a snowy slope.
Cerro Torre is pictured in the top left.
6 hours into our run we found ourselves at the base of one of the hundreds of glaciers that dominate this landscape. With so many glaciers, fresh water is found everywhere! You can pick any flowing body of water and drink mineral rich ice cold water. This made covering massive distances easy as water refuels were everywhere. All we had to bring were EPIC bars and running shoes.
Although mostly warm, the temperature is constantly changing in these mountains. Most of the fluctuation is a result of mountain air rushing across hundreds of miles of open glaciers. One minute you can be warm and the next, ice cold. It is a humbling sensation that is a constant reminder of the raw power these mountains possess.
Our second favorite hike was located at Laguna Roca, a state park 1 hour outside of the city. The original idea was to run up a mountain that locals kept recommending. The Crystal Mountain Trial quickly changed our anticipated run into a breath taking hike in which we gained over 5,000 feet of elevation change in around 2.5 miles! We summited the mountain in 4 hours and then bombed down the vertically graded trails in a blustering 1.5 hours. Although our quads were trashed, our spirits were regenerated and radiating with exuberance.
Patagonia is an amazing land that epitomizes the spirit of adventure! Spending time in the mountains inspires us to continue creating products that not only sustain our lands, but when we can, create partnerships that add value to healing and restoring the earth. Ranchers like those at Ovis XXI and companies like Patagonia and EPIC form synergistic partnerships which nourish needs of consumers while recognizing and honoring the land that is the foundation for everything this earth provides. Much like trail running deep in the heart of Patagonia, you have to respect the formative mountains as well as our bodies in order to sustain the adventure of life. A humbling respect as well as profound gratitude for Mother Nature is the foundational base for how we fit into the world.
May your life be full of EPIC adventures!