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Published: March 23rd 2013
First views as we got to the national park.
I'm writing this part of our adventure from our bus to Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas, a 3 hour bus journey that will take us to our next departure point tomorrow for Puerto Montt, further north in Chile.
But for the time being it is time for me to tell you a little bit more about our trek in Tores del Paine and reflect on this beautiful 4 days we spent in the Chilean National park.
We set off on the 18th with Rex (US - Arizona) and Elsa (France) with whom we decided to share this part of our trip after meeting them along the way trying to cross the Argentinian border from Rio Turbio. The trek we opted for like most people going to Tores del Paine was the W, a 4 day/3 nights hike and camping that would see us walking over 20Kms/day with over 15Kgs of gear on our back.
Our first day started with a mini boat trip that took us to our starting point Paine Grande, the sights from the boat were magnificients and gave us a lot to be excited about as we approached our first camp. After
dropping our luggage at reception we set off at 1pm (luckily without our gear) on a 22Km round trip that rewarded us with the view of Glacier Grey. On our way back we were also lucky enough to spot many condors - the largest bird on this planet - flying and on their nest along the cliff. During this journey alone, I met with people that would soon become more trekking buddies - Asaf and Neil from Israel, Patrick and Maria from Alaska and California; discussing distances (none of us wanted to end up in the dark before getting back to base) or food to help us going along the way.
Our first night of cooking in the communal area for campers was interrupted by someone's gaz cooker that got on fire like a torch, fortunately after panic and people evacuated someone did manage to get the fire instinguisher on time and avoid what could have been a catastrophic evening. The menus for that evening was soup and safran rice - miam miam.
The second day we set off at around 9am for the French Valley, we got our first taste of walking with so much weight on
our back and made slow but steady progress towards camp Italiano. Our path to camp Italiano was dotted with sights of beautiful lakes and mountain sceneries but it was also the opportunity for us as a group to gel and get to know each other better; a group that got even larger having met an Irish companion for the day who we gladly welcomed to join us.
We dropped our bags to camp Italiano and made our way relieved from the weight deep into the heart of the french Valley, sceneries of ancient glacier (as old as 15000 years) and rewarded at the very end by amazing panoramic views of the Cuernos and their surroundings. What I found exciting and scary at the same time was the constant breaking noise of the glacier in the valley, making regular noise resonating like thunder throughout the Valley.
We made our way back down to base here we setup our tents for the night. Call it bad luck we also avoided a catastrophe on day 2; whilst cooking in a more rustic outside communal shelter the same thing that happened the night before happened again, only this time the ranger triggered
the fire instinguisher 20secs too late and we were witness to a big explosion inside the shelter. Fortunately no one got hurt as we evacuated outside quickly. One of the guys got the video so I'll be posting it as soon it gets posted our favourite video sharing site.
For evening no.2 we treated ourselves with soup and Beef Stroganoff. Even more yummy.
We set off for day 3 just before 9am to undertake what would be the hardest day, a 9.5 hours hike mostly going uphill all the way to Camp Torres - our base camp to go and see the highlight of the trek - the famous Torres themselves. This was my favourite part of the trek so far as we mostly hiked along the hills of a large lake with beautiful colours and far away views of the park. Day 3 was hard though and it was quite an effort for all involved - seeing the day hikers on their way back from the Torres gave us a sense of accomplishment that pushed us through camp Chileneo and we finally arrived exhausted but happy at Camp Torres were all trekkers (our Israelies, Americans, Deutch...) congratulated
each other on this particularly strenuous hike. There wasn't any drama at dinner and we shared Tomato pasta and another beef stroganoff, knowing that we had pretty much made it we could relax on our stock of food and dipped in the cheese and Saucission (did I forgot to mention this? of course we had saucisson!).
Whilst as trekker we are proud of what we achieve, I have to mention this couple that we met at our camp that night; what they do is climbing, and climbing they take to another level. They had been climbing the Torres for 2 months on routes never done before. Whilst climbing a few weeks before they got into a storm and they were stuck alongside the edge of the Torres for 8 Days ! Yes ladies and gentlement- 8 Entire day stuck on a 2x1m platform hanging off a few 100s metre cliffs. As someone with fear of heights I can only acknowledge this type of accomplishments with all my heart.
Day 4 - this was the big day - not in term of hiking but to see the Torres, seeing the Torres at sunrise and get the postcard shot is
Try it upside down it' funny
a matter of luck more than effort. We woke up at 5.45am and set off on an hour ascent at 6.20. What a reward it was, it was quick but it was beautiful. We got rewarded by magnificient colours on the Torres. The dramatic view of the famous mountains with the lake in front was worth the effort and the early waking up. We enjoyed a glass of red wine with the Israely to warm us up before going back to camp.
We had breakfast, put the ten back for the last time and headed off all the way down to Hotel Torres. On that very last day it was the gale force wind that was the highlight, making the path extremely dangerous at times - people asking whether they should carry on or not. As we arrived down the valley few minutes before the end the first rain for 4 days started to pour down, although we felt lucky for ourselves we felt for day hikers and trekkers starting on that day... looking back towards the Torres the weather had deteriorated in a matter of hours.
Alongside the beautiful sceneries what made this trek special was the
number of people we met along the way as well as the special relationship we developed with Rex and Elsa. Now that I'm in that bus and we have left them behind I feel strange, I know we will meet and trek again, but for the time being we know we have said bye to friends for the time being...
On that note, I'm sending special kisses to my mum whose birthday is tomorrow. Love you very much - you , dad and bro are always with me on my travel.
ps: am unfortunately having few problems with my camera so a few pictures from the last day I need to upload from Carmen's camera. Hopefuly it will hold for the rest of the trip but I may have to take it to repair... what am i going to do without my SLR...
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