By Kris Tompkins
“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.”
– Edward Abbey
Scale is a hard thing to get a handle on. We pour over maps to try to understand a landscape. Better yet, sometimes we get to fly over it, circling the valleys and mountains to get a real lay of the land. But sometimes, there’s no substitute for crossing it on foot—learning a place step-by-step, sinking into the real magnitude of wilderness.
I fell in love with Patagonia by foot. I can remember my first walk through the grasslands of southern Chile—dropped off near the outskirts of a small town, I had just the clothes on my back, a pack on my shoulders and the wind on my face. It only took a matter of days for me to fall in love with the region’s looming peaks and curious creatures. Over twenty years later, using personal funds and the help of many friends and supporters, my husband Doug and I have managed to conserve nearly 2 million acres of threatened wilderness in South America. In 2004, we had the opportunity of a lifetime to acquire one of the largest grassland restoration projects in the world: the future Patagonia National Park.
Above: Ultrarunners Jeff Browning, Krissy Moehl and Luke Nelson join Conservacion Patagonica founder Kris Tompkins on the Avilés Trail. Patagonia Park, Chile. Photo: James Q Martin