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Published: February 24th 2007
We arrived in Puerto Natales by a four hour bus from El Calafate. In crossing the Argentina - Chile border by bus we did not have to pay the usual required entrance fee of Chile (100 US 147 Canada). The border station was very isolated as the bus traveled over dirt roads to arrive at it.
We spent the next day in Puerto Natales wandering around figuring out the trip to Torres Del Paine. We bought a bus ticket with a company that would pick us at the hostel around 7 am. We talked to an agent about hiking routes to take. We decided to do two hikes: Torres and Grey Glacier, which are the outside sections of the W circuit. We finished the day by buying some gear: a sleeping pad and rain/wind pants. All guides say be prepared for cold, windy weather. Over dinner we discussed our concerns about being able to make the ferry crossing after the second night in time to get to Punta Arenas on schedule. Our conclusion was to do the Grey Glacier hike first then the Torres. This would allow for us to do the ferry crossing after the first night and allow rely
on the bus schedule for our return. We are on a tight schedule due to only one flight being available all week and still needing to go see the penguin colony before flying out.
Our 7 am bus did not leave town until 8 am, which resulted in arriving at the ferry just in time to make the noon Lake Pehoe crossing. Once we landed we paid our camping fee and set up our tent. The wind was really blowing as it does here in Patagonia. We were concerned that our tent would blow over before we returned from our hike. For those of you thinking why not put it up later, we did so because we might not return before dark and also wanted a place to store most of our gear. The hike to Grey Glacier is 11 kms one way, which we made in the posted average of 3.5 hours. During our trip to the glacier we took a wrong turn and had to climb down a waterfall. Not knowing we were off the path we dreaded the climb up it on the way back (we found the right path on the way home). The scenery along
the hike is awesome, with mountain peaks, streams, waterfalls, lakes, icebergs in the lakes, and then the glacier itself. One thing we did notice is the lack of wild life, beyond a few birds and a few bugs we saw nothing. After climbing to the lookout to get a good view of the glacier we headed to the Grey Glacier Refugio we relaxed and had a snack. By 5:30 we decided that we better get headed back. We figured it would take us a little longer going back due to fatigue and we wanted to make it before dark if we could. It gave us a sense of security that we had purchased headlamps last month and the dark wouldn't prevent us from making it back. I, Sam, did better on the hike home than I thought I would. We made it in less than four hours, right as dusk was setting in. Happily our tent was still standing and we headed straight to bed once we got settled in. It was not the most restful sleep on hard ground with a thin sleeping pad.
We were up early so we could pack up and catch the 10 am ferry.
Our goal was to get to the Torres hike by noon, as it would be another 8 hour day. Things started off smoothly by catching the ferry but soon went downhill. We were misinformed about transport available between locations. The first to leave this area would not be until after 1 p.m. Having 3 hours wasted made our second day hike impossible so we stopped for some photos at Torres but then decided to head to Punta Arenas early.
The first bus available to Punta Arenas was in the morning so we just checked into a cheap dorm hostel for the night. Hope to not have to dorm it again but you never know....
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