Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern-most city in the world, was the last port before we were scheduled to cruise Cape Horn. To guarantee availability, we researched and pre-booked our shore excursions before we left home. One shore excursion we discussed in detail was a strenuous 5-kilometer (3 mile) trek in the forest outside of Ushuaia. There was mention of some "uneven ground," but not of The Bog. As fairly active retirees in our 60s and confident that we had managed other tours labelled as strenuous on previous trips, we booked the trekking.
As we boarded the motor coach for the ride to the trekking, I quietly asked my husband, "Have you noticed that everyone seems younger?"
Doug looked around at the other 12 people on the bus. "I think that couple two rows ahead are our age or older."
When we arrived at what looked like a ski chalet, I saw the body boards up in the rafters. We met our guides, one of whom was outfitted with a large backpack. "I bet there is an emergency kit in that bag," I whispered.
We were fitted with knee high rubber boots. One of the guides, Anela, told us: "Make sure your boots fit very tightly. Some of the peat bogs are up to 20 feet deep."
There was a collective gasp, followed by some nervous laughter when she continued, "Don't worry. We won't be crossing those bogs."
"Before we set out, you have to learn how to snap the back of your rubber boot to lift it--and your leg--out of the bog if you get stuck." We all practised boot-snapping as she demonstrated.
"Maybe I'll just stay here and wait for the cake and mate tea," I said to Doug.
"It's up to you, but I won't leave you in a peat bog," he replied.
Reassured, I started out with the group, and there was The Bog. Every step was squish, slop, lift the boot or not lift the boot and snap the back of the boot instead and then lift, one more sinking step, repeat.... I searched for higher ground. Once through The Bog, there was only one woman wearing bog mud.
As we clambered up a slope, I watched the man in front of me waver and then try to clutch a tree branch. Anela noticed and announced loudly: "Don`t grab the tree branches for support. They're shallow-rooted. This area was once covered by glaciers."
When we finally got to the waterfall, each trekker went up to have a look over an extremely steep edge. The view was outstanding.
When we turned to go back, I quickly found out that going down slippery slopes is definitely harder than clambering up them! When three of the trekkers who appeared to be in their 20s fell, I marvelled at the fact that I was upright and dry.
The Bog was waiting for me though. On my second step, I felt myself steadily sinking. I put my arms out wide for balance as my right boot filled with thick, putrid mud. "I'm stuck," I called, trying to sound calm. Anela turned as Doug slogged his way to me.
"I'll snap the boot and tug. You lift," he directed. After some effort and with a disgustingly prolonged slurp, my leg and the boot came out. I gave Anela a thumbs-up sign, and she continued leading the group back to the chalet. With every step, I emitted even louder squishes as well as a gaseous odor.
Released from my boots and saturated socks, I went into the bathroom and , using paper towels, tried to get some of The Bog off my pants. When we arrived back on the ship and after a good shower, I carefully rolled the pungent pants and placed them in a bag with a note of apology to the laundry staff.
I was so glad that the next day was a sea day and I had a massage booked as my body was protesting each movement. I had a great story to tell our dinner companions on the ship though.
To anyone who visits Ushuaia, remember, The Bog awaits.