“A hot dog, 12 bites of macaroni and cheese, and 8 squares of Lindt dark chocolate was one of the best Thanksgivings I have had.”
A year ago I was with my buddy Luke in the spectacular Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia, located in the Southern icy part of Chile. We had planned a 10 day trek covering the Q trail or hiking a circumference around the famed mountain park.
Along with our modest clothing which was far, far, away from gore-tex (like everyone else), we had to carry ten days of food (it’s quite a lot) with us. We deemed it beneficial to sacrifice nutrients for carbs and energy. We purchased bags of oats, rice, pasta, peanuts, some dried figs, a bit of chocolate, a sack of chili powder, a sack of black pepper, and our addiction of yerba mate to keep us going.
The trek that would fully widen our eyes to the breathtaking scenery of Patagonia began. Four days went by, hiking 10 to 15 kilometers per day through rivers, mud bogged trails, over massive boulders, and across mountain saddles.
Our 40 pound rucksacks kept us from elevating, as gusts of glacial wind would hammer our faces and whip right through our clothes with antarctic chills. The terrain and weather conditions were obviously not there to cater for us, but the trade off was unworldly beauty.
For lunch we would break for a couple mouthfuls of peanuts and dried figs. At night we would cook a pot of boiled rice and add an abundance of pepper and chili for flavoring. Wasn’t ultimate tasting, but we were desperate for every crumb of carbs, as we fantasized about piles of beef and cheese, nasi campur, and seafood dampa.
The fifth day I was awakened to an atrocious freezer. The frigidness ripped through our tent and acted as if it didn’t even notice my sleeping bag. I crawled out in search of something or somewhere more comfortable.
To warm our souls we busted out our trusty Whisperlite camp stove and cooked our humble daily allotment of oats for breakfast. As we were feistily rubbing our hands together for warmth, three French fellow hikers introduced themselves.
They informed us they were from Paris and reciprocally we told them we were Americans.
They laughingly told us they were opposites of the “camping or hiking types” and that they were only in the park for three days, opposing our ten. With that in mind, we invited them to hike with us for the day.
We arrived back at camp in the evening.
Luke and I were craving our nightly rice and pepper gastronomic specialty. Our three French friends cheerily invited us to hang out with them tentside as we cooked our meager dinner.
They then gestured to share some of their luxurious hot dogs, cheese, and Swiss chocolate they had carried.
The sodium filled tube steak hot dog had never tasted so ambrosial since the day we ate Del-Wiener-Pan-Dy’s, and the ever so creamy cheese and dark chocolate flabbergasted my insides.
My mouth unexpectedly went into a spasm of ecstasy as I delicately cherished every calorie of processed goodness.
As the last bit of dog was sliding down my throat, one of the French girls blurted out, “isn’t it an American holiday today, called Thanksgiving?”
Luke and I flash glanced at each other and then looked at our French companions. We had had absolutely no idea it was Thanksgiving and yet we had graciously been fed by generous French people when we needed all forms of fat calories in our diet the most.
If she hadn’t told us it was Thanksgiving we would have never actually known. Yet we were highly thankful for them sharing, and by coincidence it just happen to be Thanksgiving Day.
Don’t we have so much to be thankful for at all times? I went to bed grateful, satisfied, and still ridiculously freezing.
Five days prior we had again been thankful for a wonderful experience in which a lady turned meat to meet in Puerto Natales.