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Published: February 4th 2010
Hi, Torres Del Paine National Park
, is probably the most famous National Park of Chile, although it is very remote and you have to bring your own supplies from the city of Puerto Natales, 120 Km away from the Park... Since we arrived by car from north - and not from Puerto Natales as most muchileros do, we found that there is no place to get information nor to buy food for the staying in the park, which means BAD news - since we could not bring with us fresh food from Argentina... We arrived to the Park directly after passing the borde, due to Chilean strict regulations in the border. Luckily, we did bring with us a lot of dry food (pasta, tuna, biscuits etc.). We did manage also to find a tiny shop (sadly it was half empty) and managed to squeeze from it crackers (no bread!), slices of cheese and even a pack of sausages - so we were happy thinking we have enough food to survive the next few days.
After driving from the border for about an hour, we stopped by a view point overlooking the famous “Torres” - the
spik tower shaped mountain peeks - after which this fantastic park is named. But we were still far away from them. We did have a pleasant surprise in the view point, as we met there a young Israeli couple we have already met a month before, and this time they were with her parents (which we have heard about and knew that they are expected to come and join). We exchanged a bit of information about the park and who is going to do what, then drove car by car into the park.
At the entrance to the park (after paying the most expensive entrance to a park we ever paid in our lives - 30 USD per person!), we drove through the park towards a trail leading to a beautiful waterfall and then continuing further to a closer view point of the “Torres”. It started dripping and also the wind started blowing, but we made it to the end, just to find the “ Torres” covered with clouds- what a pity.
In hope for better weather the next day we have decided that Tal and the kids will ascend via a difficult trail up in the mountains
to the highest view point of the Torres: it is part of a very famous walk called the “W” Circuit - a trail that people walk for 3-4 days, camping along the way, meaning they have to carry their own food and camping gear with them. Since we were unable to carry tent and sleeping bags for the 5 of us , we had to settle for just part of the walk for some of us.... Accordingly, we set our tent in the camping ground at the starting point of this trail. The next morning, Tal, Nitzan and Omer woke up fairly early, got organized and left for the walk. Shachar and I stayed in the camp and passed a slow and calm day - we showered, we made laundry, we wandered around the vast campground, we sewed many things (pants of all kids that had long been needed to be fixed), we played - Shachar was a horse and I drove him around... etc. In the afternoon the 3 hikers returned exhausted - it was indeed a very hard walk, but they were very fortunate and had an amazing good weather the whole day, hence being able to clearly
Crossing the suspension bridge
The beginning and end of the trek to the Mirador Del Torres
see the Torres not being obscured by the Clouds! Not a single drop of rain and no wind, but Tal
is going to tell you more vividly about their day and sights:
Morning in Torres del Paine. The air is crispy clear, above us blue sky - a perfect day for trekking with Nitzan & Omer. We are after cereal and milk breakfast, marching in the camping but 15 minutes later, the camping, as well as Lilach with Shachar, are gone behind us. We are joining many other co-hikers - all hiking towards the vista point called: "Mirador Torres del Paine", 9 km from the Camping. The first 2 Km are fun and easy, the kids and I are in a great mood, Shachar is not nudging behind, and the good weather - all make the hike easier. We are crossing a suspension bridge, than starting to descend, deep below us runs a river, and we are surrounded with low vegetation, like scrubs and bushes carrying Calafate purple fruits.
In a couple of hours we arrive to our first stop, a camping site, beautifully located in the bottom of the valley we saw
a few minutes ago, the river is flowing by, and woods are shading the camping and its surrounding. A quick sip of water, bathroom, and.. off we continue to hike towards the vista point . I am hurrying Omer and Nitzan, explaining that winds might draw the clouds onto the peaks of the “Torres” (the “Towers”) and we would not be able to see them; They are completely ok with that and rushing their little paces after me. They have found their ritual walking sticks, and we are in a good rhythm.
On the way, we are passing few streams, hiking through well marked trail through the woods, and by noon we are arriving to our second stop - 45 minutes before the end of the trails. We rest for half an hour, eating crackers with mayo, cheese and tuna (Do not try at home...), some pickles and fresh cold water from the stream flowing a few meters from us. I am looking at the kids and they seem to be in great mood, ready for the last ascent, the gruel one. They do not know what is waiting for them.
We leave the campsite
at around 1300, only to find out that the last part of the trail is truly steep and torturous. The kids are ascending for 20 minutes, and suddenly Omer sits on a rock, declaring - with a very sad voice - Please dad, continue without me, I cannot go any further. I saw in his eyes that he is disappointed, and I felt so bad for him since I knew how much he wanted to go all the way to the top with me. But he really couldn't go any further. After all he is 7 yrs old, and sometimes we (me or Lilach, especially me...) are forgetting it. Nevertheless, I felt that pushing him too much will only worsen his feelings. So I hugged him really hard, told him that I know he did is best, and if he is sure that he wants to stay alone and wait for us. He looked at me and said only that: “Dad - I am sure”. I had to decide what to do. I saw many hikers going down so I felt secure. There were water all around us, so I told him to stay calm, to drink if he feels
dizzy, and to ask for help if worse come to worse. I showed him a nearby tree to serve as a shelter if the winds would blow harder. We left, and 20 minutes later, breathlessly arriving to the end of the trail.
To tell you it was spectacular
would hardly describe the scenery we have seen in front of us: The 3 granite “Towers” stood glamorously in the distance, towering at 2200m, covered with a blanket of snow, a couple of hundred meters above a creamy - turquoise lagoon. Above all - clear skies. We made it! I hugged cheerfully with Nitzan, kissing her and telling her I am so proud at her. Hikers around us cheered us and told me how valiant she is. I felt literally “on the top of the world” at these precious moments. I took as much photos as I could, as promised to Omer, trying to capture this spectacular and unbelievable view of this immense granite Towers. You can view in the attached photos and decide for yourself..
We started to descend, and hurried to meet Omer. We have reached the spot we left him, but could not get a sight of
Omer. We shouted his name and he appeared from the bottom of a near-by tree... We hugged and kissed him and were so happy to see he is safe and sound. He told us that indeed, a few minutes after we left him, he felt cold, and as “instructed”, he retreated to the shelter, not before a few travelers asked if he needed any help. He thanked them and explained he is waiting for me and they continued on their way. Well, after completing all details, we started our very long way back to the camping. They say, the road back always seems easier. They are right. Omer gained his turbo power, Nitzan smiled again, and I felt so good, we started to sing, tell jokes, make imitations, and practically, we flew all the way back to Lilach & Shachar. The peaks seemed to be lower, and the long trail suddenly felt shorter. We are crossing the last suspension bridge, then heading straight towards the camping. The sun has just begun to set. The red tiles of the luxurious hosteria (Hotel) at the starting point of the trail (end of the trail for us...) is shining with purple hues.
arrived at 1830, and had we chosen not to make a shortcut, we would have reached the camping earlier. We are back.
Until the next sentimental entry, I retreat to my photografy and Lilach will continue the story. Tal
When Tal and the kids were back, I prepared dinner, that unfortunately was 'nothing to write home about', not much better than the lunch they had on the mountain - but these were the circumstances.
The next day, we have left the park, not before we first did another short walk to the view point over the Gray Glacier
. This time, Omer (still exahusted from the previous day) and Shachar stayed in the car waiting for Nitzan, Tal and me. The gllacier was far away, yet it was special and different than the previous we have seen, as we walked on the shore of the lake and the glacier was behind on one side, with a huge piece of ice really close to us on the lake, and on the other side of the lake we could view the ´Cuernas´ - peaks of mountains that look like horns, and are the 2nd symbol of this park, after
the torres - these are the mountains we could not see on the first day walk, due to the clouds. The wind was blowing strong, and the little kids were waiting in the car, so we made it a quick tour.
Exiting the park, we drove toward Punta Arenas, the story of our stay there will follow in the next entry.
Hasta Pronto... Lilach Torres del Paine photos
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