Edit Blog Post
Published: December 9th 2006
Me Encanta Patagonia!
I sit under a tree to write this story down on paper first.
It´s very cold and I´m wearing two pairs of pants, two hats, 2 tops plus a jacket, and not forgeting the gloves. I´m in a beautiful forest and occasionally I can hear the sound of thunder, except it´s not thunder, it´s the sound of crashing ice. Earlier I saw a large chunk break off from the nearby glaciar, half way up the mountain, and scatter into an avelanche of fine powder on the rocks below..... Don´t worry, I´m not close enough to it to get trapped here forever.... I think!
I flew into Punta Arenas, the capital of the region, and caught the bus straight to Puerto Natales from where I organised my hiking gear. A day later I took off for the park for my great Patagonian adventure. This expedition has been a personal quest and something I´ve looked forward to doing for the past two years now.
I rented everything, 1-person tent (They didn´t give me enough pegs. Trust no one!), jacket, boots, even some hiking pants (supposedly waterproof), which others found quite amuzing.... and no, I did not rent
waterproof underwear too! Trust me, I needed this stuff, it was cold and it was windy like hell.
I bought my food for the week and packed my cameras, that´s all, no i-pod, no luxuries, no worries. Hmmm, my bag was still too heavy, how did that happen! So, I was ready! The next day, early in the morning, I boarded the bus together with some keen gringos and tourists from across the globe, all in search of their own piece of paradise. It was exciting!
I decided on the shorter hike, what they call the ´W´, which is supposed to take about 5 days to complete, provided the weather and your will power permit. I took 7 days to do it. The longer hike, called the ´Circuit´, includes the ´W´ and takes about 7-9 days to complete, though they don´t recommend you attempt this on your own. So I stuck with the ´W´. Next time I´ll return with proper hiking equipment to do the whole circuit.
The first day was tough. I started the climb up the hill, loaded with a heavy pack but a light heart. I started off in the company of several cheery lads
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
I will take you for a walk through the region I explored on my week long hike through the park.
from my bus but within an hour they´d got away into the distance and were too far ahead for me too see them. ¨Let the best man win¨, one of them said as we took off. Well, bueno! I was no match for the boys and so I was left behind on the trail. I continued ahead at my own pace, aware that I had several days of climbing and needed my legs to last the distance.
I was unfit but keen to reach the first camp site at Refugio Chileno. Three hours of huffing and puffing and I was there, pitched my tent and headed for the hills with my camera.
I attempted the hike up to Las Torres that day but it was getting quite late and the sky was cloudy, so I turned back. I decided to go up to the top in the morning and hoped for a blue sky.
The next day, after a few hours of hiking and then an hour climb over the boulders, I conquered Las Torres and got my reward, a blue sky and the magic of Las Torres in front of me. A dream come true! The place
offers views to the beautiful granite formations towering above a perfectly turquois lake, a sky ever changing: clouds travelling closer than usual overhead at accelerated speed, shrouding the tips of Las Torres momentarilly; the wind howling past your ears, taking hold of your body and sweeping you off your feet. Occasionally the wind would stir up the tranquil water, it would pick up a transparent layer of mist from the surface of the lake and make it race across its entire length, like a wave......then the mist would disappear and the lake would again lay still, tranquil and untouched by the roaring wind above.
I´d vowed two years ago after my first taste of Patagonia to return and see the Torres del Paine. The feeling I felt inside, when I reached the top and caught sight of this magical place, was out of the ordinary. I felt so happy, it was soul-filling. It is a place with the presence of great energy and it touches you.
While the rest of South America is enjoying summer, Patagonia is still in spring and so the weather tends to be on the temperamental side this time of year, bringing with it
wild rain and strong winds. Patagonia is so far south that the summers here tend to last only a couple of weeks, so I was told by a Patagonian mountain guide.
....to be continued.......
... That same day I moved camp, back down to the base of the mountain and on the following morning took the ferry across the big lake. I ended up on the other end of the ´w´. I planned to trek backwards, as I was told the views were more amazing in this direction and also I hoped my pack would be lighter on the way back after eating most of my food. (and it was) After a lazy afternoon at yet another scenic campsite, surrounded by majestic mountains, I hiked a full day to Glaciar Grey, 8 hours there and back. It was cold and so windy along the way that at times I was propelled on by a backwind and without much effort from me to walk. At other times, as I´d made it over the hill, I´d come face to face with the force of a frontwind and I would let go of my body and still remain standing up. That
was fun, like a bird in flight. On the way back it started to rain pretty heavy just as I was approaching the campsite. That night my tent leaked a bit but I came out of it dry somehow.
Glaciar Grey is part of the world´s 3rd largest glaciar, Glaciar Yellow (after Antarctica and Greenland), which branches out to give name to the well known Perito Moreno glaciar in Argentina, as well as the glaciar at Laguna San Rafael in Chile.
Oh yeah, I´ve seen condors circling high above. They´re majestic, but according to the indigenous people the king of the mountain is the Puma. I kept an eye out for Pumas.... though I didn´t know what I would do if I saw one- would I wave my walking stick at it and shout out for it to go away, or would I get my camera out? Would my hands shake too much to take the photo? Would it be scared of the flash? or would it come over and eat me?
...Just now as I was writing under this tree a huge spider crawled across my leg. Gross.
Tot: 3.282s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 15; qc: 78; dbt: 0.0532s; 3; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.5mb