Wet and windy weather did little to dampen our spirits as we left National Geographic Resolution to explore the Bernal Glacier. The glacier moves in an easterly direction from the Sarmiento de Gamboa Range in southern Patagonia towards the Estero las Montanas. It is primarily retreating because of surface melting rather than calving at the terminus. Access to the glacier is via a narrow path, approximately 0.7 miles in length, that connects the Zodiac landing area to the terminal and lateral moraines at the forefront of the terminus. The moraines contain a wide-variety of rock types, including granites from the surrounding mountains and metamorphic rocks formed through the contact of granites with dykes and other cross-cutting features. A bright red mineral (bloodstone–a green chalcedony with splashes of red) is found in many of the rocks at the terminus of the glacier. Bloodstone has been a popular gemstone for several thousand years. Due to its red appearance, it is also known as the “blood of Christ,” which means it has religious significance to many people. In India, crushed bloodstone is also used as an aphrodisiac. Bloodstone is formed when silica-rich materials evaporate at low temperatures and leave microcrystalline quartz within cracks and small crevices.
Following our visit to Bernal Glacier, we navigated through the Patagonian fjords. At approximately 3:30 pm, we passed through Kirke Narrows on our way to Puerto Natales, Chile. From the Bridge, we observed how well the ship can navigate through such confined marine spaces. Slack tide was judged so perfectly that we were able to enjoy a safe and scenic passage through this spectacular Patagonian waterway. Kirke Narrows is one of only two maritime access points to Puerto Natales. While the distance between the coastlines is 130 meters, the navigable width is only 40 meters. Tonight, we are scheduled to arrive at Puerto Natales, a city with approximately 21,000 residents. The city is a stopping-off point for visitors going to Torres del Paine National Park, our destination for tomorrow.