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Published: October 28th 2019
Superb day hiking our longest ever hike to the Mirador Base de las Torres in Torres del Paine, Patagonia. The hotel have kindly prepared an early breakfast for us so that we’re ready for Andrea and Rodolfo to collect us at 7am to drive to the national park. It’s a pleasant two hour journey, but surprisingly it’s less stunning than other trips where we’ve had where we’ve seen more wildlife and mountains. We’re still approaching the Andes, but it’s just a bit less dramatic from this direction.
Hiking poles at the ready, we set off at 9.15am and arrange to see Rodolfo again at 6pm...I think I’ve misheard as I didn’t quite realise how long we’d be walking for and now feel a bit nervous about my ability to complete the walk. After 1km we’re hot already so strip off hats, coats, gloves and fleeces before continuing...Andrea calls this the warm up! After another couple of km we’re ready for water so have a water break. Then at the 5km mark we reach the Refugio Chileno and are ready for a well earned snack break. We’ve done the slightly hair raising “windy pass” with steep drops off down the hillside. I’ve had my eyes fixed firmly on the ground or the boots in front of me to ensure no mishaps. We put all our layers back on as it’s cold as soon as you stop walking, and tuck into our cereal bars, nuts and chocolate. It starts to spot with rain so we also put on waterproof trousers. After just 10-15 minutes we’re off again and the next section is forested and not too much climbing, so quite easy and pleasant. Before the final ascent there’s a loo stop at the park rangers base, which is like a mini trek in itself, but amazing to have decent facilities in the middle of nowhere like this! Andrea has warned us that the last kilometre is a steep uphill with lots of rocks to climb, but we’re actually feeling pretty good so crack on at a fair pace - 45 minutes to go apparently. It is quite hard and a bit disheartening when you see walkers way above you, knowing you’ve got to get up there too. And when you’ve only got 10 minutes to go, it’s still up and up and up. Andrea points out a huge cóndor above our heads, and he does a fabulous, slow flypast literally over our heads. So majestic, with wings outstretched and feathers spread out like fingertips, gliding in the air currents. It is a real treat and I’m afraid I ruin someone else’s video of the flypast by saying “wow” a few too many times.
Then finally you round a corner and are rewarded with the most magnificent view of the Torres - and as you approach then the scene gets even more magical as the lake appears in the foreground...it totally looks like somewhere out of a fairytale - such a reward and so worth the climb! We have about half an hour to enjoy the moment and eat our lunch so we head towards the lake and find a sheltered spot out of the wind. There are maybe 50 or so other hikers and some are a bit noisy and annoying taking stupid pictures. But never mind, there’s plenty of space and we manage to take pictures without the attention seekers. Our sandwiches provided by Antares are filling and delicious and we are treated to a dance by a little bird who is bravely circling us looking for crumbs - so gorgeous!
The time passes way too quickly and after all that effort and over four hours to get up, we have to leave, knowing that we won’t be back 😢. Andrea explains how busy it is in the summer with people queueing to get up and down near the top, but it’s not particularly busy today. There are people around and we spot the same groups here and there on the way up. On the way down, there’s a really young girl nearly at the top. I ask her how old she is and she’s just 6! I ask her if this is her first time to the Torres and she says that it isn’t. I ask her how many times she’s done the climb and she doesn’t know! Future park ranger/explorer/mountaineer!
We power downhill. It’s so much quicker, but you still have to concentrate the whole time on where you’re putting your feet, and it’s knee-jarring work. A quick pitstop at the park ranger loo, then we crack on. About half way down the rain starts...gently at first, but at a certain point it seems like a good idea to stop and put on the waterproofs. We get to the Refugio Chileno, meaning we’re halfway down. On to the windy pass and back onto kinder territory underfoot...just a few more bridges to go and we’re virtually flat and nearly at base camp. We’re sooo tired, but keep speeding on down to complete the round trip of just over 20km in exactly 8 hours. High fives all round and we are grateful to see Rodolfo with the van, get out of our layers and get ready for the journey to our hotel - Nash Lodge. It’s a gorgeous 90 minute drive through the Patagonian landscape. We see our now familiar friends, the guanaco 🦙, and make a tiny detour to see flamingos on a lake. All of the scenery is stunning and it’s a beautiful end to an exhausting but brilliant day.
Nash Lodge is so toasty when we arrive. We get a very warm welcome, quickly shower and go back downstairs for pisco sour aperitifs with olives and a coriander dip. Our party has now grown to include Andrea and Rodolfo. The Chilean music is pumping from the kitchen as the staff prepare our food and we have a lovely supper of soup followed by salmon and a super sweet mousse/cream dessert. Unfortunately, we are all devoid of energy, so slink off to bed as soon as the meal is over. I would really like to party, but we all just need to SLEEP! 😴
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