Published: November 15th 2011November 15th 2011
Day 29 - Wednesday 9th November
Up at 6.00am to have breakfast and final preparation which included Scott running 5 blocks into the centre of town to the ATM for a top up of money. We waited in the sitting room for our bus which apparently always runs late but when a mini bus turned up and we asked if this was ours, Paula, the woman running the hotel said no and quickly got on the phone and a couple of minutes later a car turned up and she said “go”. We were driven to the bus which was just about full, we jump on and were on the road to Torres Del Paine, but along the way we stopped at a local souvenir shop in the middle of nowhere. After that the scenery started to change and it was amazing and before long we could see the 3 towers of Paine and the guanaco (wild llamas) roaming around, we stopped at the park administration to pay the fee and get more info about the park. From here it was about another 30 minutes to the catamaran and here the confusion started. The office and café were not open and no
one knew where you could get tickets. Eventually someone found out the tickets were sold on the catamaran so we only had to wait about an hour for the staff to turn up then everyone was crowded on to the boat with a large number having to stand for the short trip. We are still in the low season so we couldn’t imagine how bad it must be in the peak season. The 30 minute journey was fumie, but the scenery was beautiful and then we were dropped off at Paine Grande for the start of the walk. We got directions from an official and were on our way at 1.00pm after a few photos of course.
The walk started out nice and easy with only a very slight incline. We wandered up a scrubby valley beneath the towering snow covered mountains, till we got to the head of the valley and had to start our climb up. The climb initially wasn’t too bad and because we were still feeling fresh we were able to power on, but it got worse as we went along. Despite us not being super fit we kept up a fairly good pace and were
soon passing people who had powered past us earlier. As we got higher the wind increased and in some areas it was near cyclonic, and couldn’t imagine that it could get any worse…wrong. Our backpacks that seemed so light and well adjusted at the start were now digging into us and starting to tire us, but we pushed on. After 2 hours we reached a look out with views up “Lago Grey” to the Grey Glacier, the view was sublime, but the wind was stronger still. From this point the path went downhill, and we were soon scrambling down loose shale and squeezing past huge boulders. The next breather was at a lookout where we could see the lake littered with icebergs of all sizes, and the shoreline covered in smaller chunks of ice.
After trekking on for over an hour more we were finally on level ground and discovered the yet to be completed “Lago Grey mountain lodge”. The place looked fabulous and although nowhere near complete I was tempted to just stop and stay in one of the empty rooms. Finally around 4.45, after trekking 11 kilometres up and over a mountain for nearly 4 hours we reached
“Lago Grey Refugio”. Along the way I (Scott) had developed massive blisters on both feet so I was more than happy to stop, heave that bloody 14 kilo backpack off and remove my shoes. Shelley wasn’t just lolling along though, she was carrying our camera bag which weighs close to 8 kilos and that persistent cough nagged her the whole way.
The Refugio is basic but warm and is a great shelter from the wind. Our dorm room holds 8 people in 4 bunks and when we arrive all the lower bunks are taken so we only have the top bunks but this at least allows us to dry and air our clothes from the exposed rafters. Tonight out of the potential 6 neighbours we only have 4, one lovely American lady (Marilyn) and 3 English people. After dropping our stuff up on our top bunk we went for a well deserved shower, under a trickle of hot water…did I say this place is basic! Considering where we are, at such a remote location you really can’t expect a Hilton though, but the new lodge around the bend may just about be that, so time is a changing. The Refugio
is sitting right down on the water and after our shower we wander around out the back to photograph all the beached icebergs and gaze in awe at the glacier down the lake.
In the lodge we settle in a bit with a beer and around 7pm dinner is served and it is an absolute treat, with soup, then chicken with rice and finished with diced fruit. This was way more than we expected and after the day we had it was fantastic. Didn’t get much sleep over the last couple of nights because of Shelley’s nagging cough and after today’s march we were both exhausted so retired upstairs after dinner while the rest of the refugio sat up and drank. Sat up in our bed till nearly 10, which was when the sun finally sets around here and we lost the light from our window to read. We do have a light in our room but it isn’t too bright.
Day 30 - Thursday 10th November
Unfortunately Scott and I are not dorm people, it’s not them it’s us, we have had our own space too long and we are not good bed partners. Scott who has a
blocked nose, snored and I had to keep prodding him and then I kept coughing all night, the poor people in our room. Being on the top bunk I was terrified I would forget and fall out so I couldn’t sleep and I was so embarrassed by our bad behaviour. About 1.00am the wind started and this time it was cyclonic about 100km and all I could think was I am glad I’m not camping outside like the Aussie couple we met on the trek here. I had a window view and could see the trees bending and swaying, the noise was incredible and everyone woke up….finally something was louder than us. This went on all night and I could not sleep and was constantly coughing and then I had to go to the toilet, damned the ladder only had one step then it was the floor unless you stepped on the mattress of the person below. Well when you have to go you have to go so down I hopped hoping I did not step on someone’s head (bad sleeping partner). The next challenge was the lights were not on downstairs and the bathroom lights were out so with
the door opened to the bathroom and the toilet I when hoping no one came downstairs especially a strange man as their bathroom is across the hall. No problems and back to bed finally for some sleep and not caring if we are social pariahs.
When we woke up the wind was still strong and I did not want to get up, my first words to Scott were “I hate you, what have you got me into”, I must have looked scary but to his credit he did not run. Once I got up and had breakfast I felt better, so we slowly prepared for a walk Scott putting layers of band aids on and me taking Flu and Cold tablets and then rugging up.
Hit the path about 10.00am and slowly made our way upwards. My initial plan for today was to keep heading North from the refugio alongside the Grey Glacier and head up to a spot called the John Garner Pass, which is part of the round circuit around Torres Del Paine. From this pass, which sits at about 1000m high the views over the glacier are to die for, and I just knew that if we
were to attempt it today that would be fact, so we decided that in our present condition we would walk as far as we were comfortable with and then return. The mountains that tower over the refugio are between 1566m to 2093m tall (as high as Kosciusko) and when you look up at them you can see the high winds just whipping trails of snow off the top peaks and it looks cold and terrifying. We later learned that there was still plenty of snow around on the pass and that to get there you had to wade through thigh high snow, so it was a good call not to go there.
The trail we took wasn’t too bad and because of our battered nature we took it slow, but this was too our advantage because it allowed us to really enjoy where we were and take it all in. The path was fairly steep and rough as hell in places, which surprised us for a park that is apparently the most hiked in the world (120,000 annually). We crossed several streams and massive landslides till we hit a camping ground that was surrounded by massive fallen trees, and it
had us wondering what brave souls would camp there. We pushed on through the forest till we came to a huge ravine that we had to scramble down one side and then up a ladder on the other side. Scott’s, blisters were killing him and Shelley’s cough was still giving her hell so we decided this was as good a point to stop as any. The ladder didn’t look too bad but the scramble down was dodgy and we took it as a sign. Wandered back to the campground which was about a 30 minute walk and then a path led out of the forest to a clearing, well sort of. We had to climb over broken trees and then slide down some gravel inclines and then we made it to a huge granite outcrop that stood high over the ice face of the Grey Glacier.
We found a spot and dragged out our lunch bags that the refugio had made for us before leaving and Shelley had been hauling with us all morning and sat down for a feed. The wind which had been howling on and off all morning ceased and likewise the intermittent rain stopped and we
sat there with this incredible vista before us with not another soul within sight or sound. As I may have stated before, the great moments on a trip are not the ones you plan and think they are going to be, they are the ones that just come out of the blue and everything seems to come together with no effort and this was one of the better ones. You truly couldn’t have found a better spot on the planet or a better moment in time.
We stayed there for an hour and really didn’t want to leave except we knew we had a long walk back and as a sign that we needed to go the wind started up, almost to say “hey guys you have had your moment now go”. The walk back was mostly downhill and along the way we passed a few other hikers, who were mainly German. On the hike back we needed more water and so just filled it at one of the many streams. We would never think of doing this normally but everyone else was doing it and apparently it is quite safe so we took the gamble and continued to do
it over the next 4 days. Just short of the refugio, Shelley told me to stop, and when I did I noticed that she had spotted a bird in a tree ahead which was a woodpecker. The red crested bird was pounding on a tree and emitting loud squawk as it did it. I never seen anything quite like it before and wouldn’t have seen it if it wasn’t for Shelley’s keen eye. Stayed there for a while watching it flit from tree to tree with another one that was nearly completely black, which we took to be its partner. Another great moment on a fabulous day.
Made it back to the refugio around 4 in the afternoon after having done a 10 kilometre round trip and we quickly beat a path to the showers in a hope we would get hot water and today we were rewarded. We soon discovered that tonight was going to be a full house with a double shift for dinner. Taking over the bulk of the refugio was a large tour group led by what appeared to be an egotistical wanker. The guy was even parading through the place in his underwear to get
to the shower and although I didn’t hear him speak English, the way he spoke to others you just knew he thought he was god’s gift to the world. There is something with tour groups that really gets up my nose, and it doesn’t matter what nationality, there is just a real pack mentality that they think they can do whatever they like, and the leaders of the pack are ten times worse.
Anyway we sat and typed up this blog over a couple of beers and the dinner they served afterwards wasn’t quite as good as last night but was still a great feed and a good effort by the staff. The Refugio was a full house tonight and they had to do dinner in a double shift, and because of this there really wasn’t anywhere to sit once we had finished eating so we once again retired to our cramped little room. Thankfully because some people had moved out in the morning, Shelley was able to grab a lower bunk and I moved to the top bunk above. Because it was a full house we were hoping there would be a few people more noisy than us, we
still had Marilyn in the room plus five new people. After dinner we went back to the dorm and read, our whole room were in bed by 9.30pm for 10 curfew when all the lights are turned off, unfortunately quite a few people decided to party on till 11.30pm then some decided to take it outside where we could still hear them.
Most people in our room were kept awake by the noisy ones downstairs till nearly midnight and then finally we started to go to sleep. I had tried not to cough and ended up having spasms in my diaphragm and apparently started making strange noises and then coughing anyway. Then Scott started snoring, the first time I moved his arm and it stopped for 15 minutes, next time he got a shake and “Stop Snoring”. About 15 minutes later one of the other occupants had a night terror and started screaming out something in German – finally someone louder than us – till his girlfriend jumped up and calmed him down. But she had to shine a torch around the room to show him where he was, and personally if I was having a night terror attack, being
shown this room wouldn’t have settled me down. So it was another rough night in the dorm.
Day 31 - Friday 11th November
Both got very little sleep but we found ourselves falling out of bed around 7 feeling absolutely exhausted, and the day was only just beginning. After breakfast we finished our packing and I band aided up and managed somehow to get my boots on without screaming and then we hit the road. Poor Shelley still couldn’t stop coughing and it was now driving her mad. Todays’ hike was back down the same trail that we took to get to Lago Grey Refugio, and was 11 kilometres long and from the maps it looked like we reached a height of about 300 metres. Probably an easy walk if you weren’t carrying backpacks, and you didn’t have a bad cold and you had unblistered feet. The paths around this national park are little more than billy goat trails and it is really confusing in places because the path will branch off in several directions where people have decided to make their own paths and you have to second guess which path is right. On the way there two
days ago we had to scramble down a very steep shale embankment, and Shelley wasn’t looking forward to having to go back up it but when we got there we discovered that had we had in fact gone down one of those “wrong” paths so we were able to avoid scrambling up the shale, and instead we had to clamber over large boulders.
Because of my blistered heals we took it real slow and I somehow managed to get over the highest point and we headed down the slight incline toward our new home, but my heels just got worse and worse. It felt like someone had a cheese grater to my feet and I had to stop. At this point I didn’t know if I was going to make it the Refugio for tonight let alone hiking for another 4 days. I decided to walk with the laces undone on the boots and straight away it felt better, not perfect, but better. We pushed on and finally in the afternoon we made it to Paine Grande Refugio.
Paine Grande Refugio is a large modern complex that has numerous rooms, a huge dining area and a separate bar. The bathrooms
were clean and modern, although still small when we realised how many people were actually boarding here. Our room was larger than our last one and we had two other English couples with us, and so we only had six in this room to eight in the last one. We quickly had a shower and cleaned up and I started feeling almost human again. To give my heels a rest I just wore socks around the place. Shelley’s cough was a lot better today till we sat in a room that had a wood heater and she started up again so we think that maybe the smoke is the cause of her problem. The Refugio also had a little store where I managed to purchase every single band aid they had…10. The place didn’t have any other form of bandage or even a headache tablet, and this was the same for every other Refugio we stayed at. This sort of came as a shock to us because of the number of hikers and the terrain as we could imagine lots of injuries.
When the bar opened at 5 we were up there for a beer and got a table against
the glass window that looked over the huge mountain range, I don’t think you could possibly get a more spectacular view. We tried the pisco sours which are a local drink they taste nice but have a kick like a mule definitely could not drink too many of these. Had dinner with Marilyn who is in a different dorm to us, had one more pisco sour and then retired to bed for a great night’s sleep.
Day 32 - Saturday 12th November
We were woken at 6.00am not wanting to get out of bed, but it is hard to sleep when everyone else is up and about in the room. Had breakfast and tried to motivate ourselves to get moving. As we finished breakfast Marilyn handed me 3 huge band aids from her personal stash. She suffers from blisters as well and always carries a number with her, and thankfully was able to part with 3 of them. With the ten band aids I got yesterday and now these 3 super band aids I started feeling like I could make it through. Decided to save the good ones for the last two days as I figured they are going
to be the toughest. Over the course of today I would use every one of the other ten band aids.
After breakfast we packed our bags and headed out the door sometime around 9.30, with me limping and Shelley coughing a lung up. The walk out of Paine Grande went up over rolling hills till we reached the Lago Skottsberg, which is one of the numerous lakes around the park. We then slowly made our way around it and as we did the wind started to really pick up. We watched in amazement as the wind whipped the lake into a wall of spray so that you could actually see the gusts of wind moving across the surface. At the moment we only watched it but later we would feel its full force. Eventually we made it to the Del Frances River, which we had to cross over on a suspension bridge that had a large warning sign that only two people at a time could cross. A couple in front of us crossed first and they decided to stop midway to take some photos just as a gust of wind hit and they were almost instantly drenched in the
spray and the bridge swung wildly out. Shelley just gave me one of those looks like “do you really expect me to cross that” but she did, thankfully between gusts.
On the other side of the river was camp Italiano which was a fairly basic camp ground with a small admin building. The next leg of the hike was up the Frances Valley to a look out and then we would return to camp Italiano to continue our hike to the next Refugio. To my huge regret we neglected to walk down to the camp admin building because if we had we would have discovered that I could have left my backpack there instead of hauling it all the way up the Frances valley to the look out. So with the wind howling down the valley and with our full backpacks on we headed up to the lookout around midday. The trail was steep and initially wound through a lovely forest with the occasional small stream, but we were soon out of the woods and scrambling over granite boulders.
We eventually made it to a large flat outcrop that allowed us to see up the valley to the Frances Glacier
and so we stopped to take photos. While I was busy filming a huge gust of wind hit and blew Shelley into the air and thankfully back on to her feet. I was completely oblivious to this while I was filming because the wind was howling so hard. Thankfully Shelley was okay but I lost my sunglasses and they are probably on their way to China at the moment. From the outcrop the trail got steep, really steep and difficult and we were continually having to scamper over huge granite landslides and loose shale. At times it was hard to figure out which way to go as the occasional signage was exactly that “occasional”.
At around 1.30 we got to the point where I just hit a wall and just couldn’t go on any further, the backpack was killing me and so was my blistered feet and from what I could figure out we still had another half an hour to get to the lookout. We found a great spot on a granite bolder overlooking the glacier so we decided to stop and have lunch. The Frances Glacier tumbles down the side of the highest peak in Torres Del Paine,
Cumbre Principal, which is 3050m high, and when I say tumbles I mean tumbles. While we ate our lunch there were several small snow avalanches, and the whole valley would rumble with the noise and we would see this huge shower of snow and rock crashing down the shear sides of this enormous mountain. The glacier itself was a “dirty glacier” and was nearly completely covered in rock and debris from rock avalanches. As you could imagine it was a great spot to enjoy our boxed lunch from the refugio, except the wind just wouldn’t give up.
Once lunch was finished we headed back down the mountain as fast as we could, which because of our load, the terrain and the wind was very, very slow. Finally made it back down to camp Italiano around 3, where of course I discovered that I didn’t have to carry my bag all that way…no wonder people were giving me strange looks. From here we had to head off to our bed for the night at Refugio Cuernos, and from the maps it was stated as being another 2.5 hour march, oh joy. The path started out real lovely, nice and flat and
through the forest and some nice flat fields, where we could look up to the huge granite monolith called “the fortress”. The path then started heading upwards and we started following the shoreline of Lago Nordenskjold. The wind started increasing and the path deteriorated and we were constantly climbing up ridges and then scrambling down them again. It seemed to go on forever till we got to a ridge and could spot our refugio off in the distance, but it still was a good hour away. Along the trail we bumped into other fellow hikers who we had got to know along the route, and like us they were all fatigued and wanting to get to shelter.
The path eventually led down to a rocky beach on the shoreline and it was here that we started feeling the real force of the wind. The wind was coming off the lake behind us and you could hear it coming like a locomotive, so it gave you time to brace yourself, otherwise it would literally blow you off your feet. What was more amazing was the spray it was whipping off the surface of the water, and it was a huge vertical
wall of water that gave you an instant high pressure shower. At one point I heard it coming and turned around to see this white wall of water heading up behind Shelley and only had time to yell “brace yourself”, which gave her just enough time to crouch, before it hit…I just wish I had my camera out because I have never seen or felt anything like it before. This may be a new place from extreme windsurfing for the locos of course you would probably end up in the mountain side.
From the shoreline it was not far to the refugio and here we are splurging as we have booked a cabana, so no dorm room for us tonight. We booked in at reception and then were shown to the cabana and guess what it was up the hill, so we still needed to keep walking another 100 metres past a waterfall. The cabana is beautiful with a huge king bed and balcony overlooking the lake, the wind was so strong that there was water spray from the lake on the door. After settling in I (Shelley) went for a shower about 20 metres down the hill I got
undressed and turned the water on and it was freezing, I mean ice and after screaming I had the quickest shower ever. I stormed back to our room and told Scott then stormed down to reception who apologized sincerely they had forgotten to turn the heat on, so Scott had a lovely hot shower. We sat on the balcony with the beautiful views and could not believe we were here, the cold shower was soon forgotten. It is amazing just sitting here watching the wind coming across the lake. I (Scott) have never in my life seen or felt winds as strong as this and would guess they were hitting around the 140 kilometre an hour range, (I have read that they can hit 200km/h here). Shelley of course has experienced stronger, kept going on how she had seen stronger, but it would be hard to beat Cyclone Tracey.
About 7.30pm we walked down to the main hostel for dinner and meet up with Marilyn and others to see how everyone made it through the day. Marilyn who took the same route as us (although she didn’t trek quite as high as us up the valley) was carrying a GPS
and was able to give us the statistics of the day. We had walked 18 kilometres and over that distance we had walked up 2.4 kilometres and back down 2.4 kilometres…no wonder we were feeling tired. In between gusts of wind we retreated to our peaceful room with a small bottle of red wine and watched the view from our bed through the glass door to the lake and the side window to the fortress mountain above us. By this time the wind speed was increasing and the cabana was shaking, I hope the Chilean building codes are good. About 5.00am there was the strongest and longest wind gust of the night which shook us for a few minutes, the wind then seemed to die down.
Day 33 - Sunday 13th November
We really did not want to get out of this great bed with its warm doona, but we had to have breakfast and get back on the road by 9.00am as it was another big day. It was raining lightly but cleared as we started the trek uphill and down along the shoreline of Lago Nordenskjold. Our destination today was Refugio Chileno and to get there, you
could go a long way or take a shortcut. We had heard that the shortcut could be risky as it wasn’t marked very well but I figured it couldn’t be any worse than we had already seen. The consensus with the fellow hikers was that the shortcut was the only way to go, but would it be sign posted when we got to it? We slogged along the path, filling our water bottle up at steams as we went till finally at around 12.30 we reached the shortcut, which thankfully was signposted. Fellow hikers had also stopped there for lunch so we took the opportunity to take a break and eat our boxed lunch. Once again we had a heavy bread roll, with tuna, lettuce, corn and cheese. It wasn’t too bad but the bread was a bit stale and it was a huge roll. Shelley I think was happy for us to have lunch as it lightened her load. It was at this point that we toasted Dads birthday, Happy 80th birthday Dad. We both agreed that you would love to have seen this park but I am unsure if you would have enjoyed the long walk or the
From here the path crossed a large boggy expanse where we had to balance across sunken logs, where any false step would have landed us in knee deep mud. Once out of this the path headed upwards and just kept going upwards. It was a long hard slog that just didn’t stop, and our backpacks seemed to get heavier and heavier. We both just put our head down and kept slogging up the hill till we reached a bend or what looked like an apex only to discover another incline. After an hour I was cursing every time we got to what I thought was the top of the hill only to discover the path going higher. It was possibly the hardest climb I have ever done…to that point. On the way up Shelley spotted an elusive Andean Condor soaring down the valley. Luckily only a couple of days before Marilyn had told us what to look for, (a white band around the neck, and 7 feathers on the tips of each wing), unfortunately by the time we got the camera out it was gone.
Finally at 3.30 we reached the true top of the pass and we could
look down on the Rio Ascencio and up the valley on the bank of the river the refugio Chileno. From the pass it was another half an hour slog down the hill, back up another one and then down to the refugio, where we both just about collapsed. Today’s walk was 11 kilometres long but because of the long climb it felt double that. The refugio Chileno is the most badly run so far and the staff all seemed confused and booking in was slow. We were finally led to our room and here there were two triple and one double bunks with the top bunk about 2.5 metres off the ground and the room was freezing. We managed to get one bottom and a middle bunk on the same side and just sunk into the bottom bunk unable to move for about an hour and just talked as we had the room to ourselves.
The dining/common room here is very small and not big enough for everyone to fit in at once, so we squeezed in and had a drink looking out the large window to the view up to tomorrow’s walk. The weather is turning nasty the rain
is getting heavier and the staff claim they do not know what the forecast is for tomorrow. Dinner time was confusing as there was a large tour group and they were getting priority, Marilyn joined us and all of a sudden dinner was being placed in front of us even though it was meant to be later. We have decided not to walk to Torres for sunrise in the dark due to the rain, so settled on 5.30am, arranged with the staff for our packed lunch to be ready for us to take and said goodnight. The dorm had 8 people and I tried to get to sleep before my coughing started with no luck, two guys came in and did not seem to understand the volume they were speaking at and kept everyone awake. My coughing started so I was up and down all going into the bathroom so I would not wake everyone up.
Day 34 - Monday 14th November
Scott woke up at 5.00am and we could hear it pouring outside, so he checked the weather from the window in the dining room and came back and said it’s bad. We both walked out and assessed
the situation and decided to go back to bed from a while, about 6.15am I checked and it was starting to break up. We decided if we were going to do it we would have to leave soon so we got organised and left our big backpack and of course our lunch packs were not ready, no surprise there. At 7.10am we were on our way and saw some people who had been up to Base Las Torres for sunrise, they said it was initially raining and then started to snow and there was no beautiful sunrise and we had made the right decision as it was miserable.
I was finding the walk extremely hard today with my nagging cold and cough the cold air was making it hard to breath and it was still drizzling. We got to Camp Torres and this is where the real climb began, the distance is not far but it was straight up over a massive landslide of granite boulders. The whole area looked as if a whole mountain of granite had just collapsed into a pile, and to get to the top we had to clamber over the lot of it. To make
things even harder for us it was now snowing, Torres Del Paine is throwing everything at us this trip. It was freezing and I was getting slower, we had to get up to a huge boulder and behind there was the lookout but it looked miles away and at times the wind was making it hard to keep our footing. We finally made it and it was so beautiful the tops were covered in mist and the snow was falling but we could see the three – Torre Sur, Torre Central, Torre Norte and Co Nido de Condor beside them. We stayed about 30 minutes in amazement and then totally frozen decided to head back down passing the large tourist groups heading up, perfect timing. Going down was a bit quicker, but the rocks where slippery and the paths were just mud so we had to be careful not to slip all the way down.
Back at the refugio I went inside to get our bag and of course they had moved it and it took me about 5 minutes to find it, then we were back on the road to try to get the 2.30pm bus back to Puerto
Natales as the next one after that wasn’t till 7.45pm. The climb back up over the mountain was so steep and we had two apexes to get over before we hit the downward section to Hosteria Las Torres were we could get a shuttle bus at 2.00pm to connect with the bus. It was raining heavier over the top and Scott was worried about me because I was starting to look like a drowned rat. The ponchos we had were useless in the high wind so we had to just march along getting drenched. We both look bedraggled Scott with his 5 day grey beard growth and limping because of blisters and me with my hair now turning into dreadlocks. On the path we met a Frenchman who we kept running into over the last 5 days and he could not miss the earlier bus as he was connecting with a boat and final boarding was 9.00pm, so we wished him luck as he ran past. Once we struggled over the steep section we were both relieved and thought we had and chance at getting the bus, but we still had a distance to go. The path now was better
and we could make good time the rain had eased but the wind was still cold. We could see Hosteria Las Torres a posh hotel in the distance and finally made it at 1.00pm in plenty of time, we saw some of the other hikers who told us there was a nice warm café inside. We sat down and had a hot chocolate and a plate of hot chips luxury, while sitting there we saw and Patagonian Fox roaming around. Today we had hiked 14 kilometres, which in our state was an absolute miracle. And as we sat in the café having our hot chocolate we both couldn’t believe that we had done it, we had somehow completed the “W” trek, against all odds. We should have felt exhilarated but at that moment we were just numb, and looking around the room at some of the other hikers, we were not the only shattered units at the end of this hike.
We had finally made it, bruised, battered and worn out, but we survived and had the most amazing experience of our lives that the photos will never quite capture.
The shuttle bus arrived at 2.00pm and drove us
to the Park Administration Office where all the buses leave to go back to Puerto Natales, on the way there we had to drive over a suspension bridge which the bus just fitted with a millimetre either side we could not believe it and that the bridge took the weight. We hopped on the big bus and arrived back at Puerto Natales about 5.00pm and had to walk back to our hotel. We dropped our bags and hit the shower and I had to wash my hair and get all the knots out and Scott shaving so he no longer looked like an old man. We went back to our favourite restaurant in town for a pasta and pizza meal and back to the hotel and bed, utterly exhausted.
There are more photos below