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Expedition: Into the Altiplano|
It has been more than 45 days since we last needed spray skirts on our boatsback when we'd kayaked around the big stone arch of La Portada off the Chilean coast near Antofagasta.
Who knew we'd need them here, on what appears to be the calm, clear Laguna Verde, 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) above sea level in southern Bolivia. From the shore, seated at the foot of the nearly 6,000-meter-tall Volcán Licancabur, the emerald-colored lake appears tranquil and welcoming. Who would have guessed that at 11 a.m. every morninglike clockworkthe wind comes up screaming and turns the jewel into a frothy soup of waves and cold, cold water. Find yourself in its middle sans spray skirt, as we have, and the icy water comes spilling into your unprotected kayak.
For these last few days of exploration I've invited along an old Chilean friend. Rodrigo Jordan, one of Chile's best-known climbers and businessmenhis company, Vertical S.A., is akin to an Outward Bound for South American business managers. Though he's been up Everest a couple times, his hours in a kayak seat are limited.
Though we paddle beneath a brilliant blue sky, when I pull up to him in the middle of the wet, windy and cold Laguna Verde, I see his bare hands were red and cold.
"The great thing," I shout over the wind, "is I'm sure no one has ever kayaked here before."
He doesn't appear convinced that this is a good thing and shouts back, "I can see why!"
Next: The Conclusion >>
Funding for this expedition was provided by the National Geographic Society Expeditions Council. For more information on the Council, its projects, and grants, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.