Torres Del Paine - The Circuit - Day 5

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March 24th 2013
Published: March 30th 2013
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Woke up on day 5 sore & cold. Sore in the legs as well as from the permanent bruises we have formed on our hips and shoulders from sleeping on the hard ground. We want to walk to Refugio Grande Paine today, a total of 21km over a slightly undulating landscape. More oats and dolche de leche (getting rather tired of this for breaky now) and a cup of tea to get us going, plus some anti-inflammatory tablets...

It has rained fairly steadily overnight, and the tent is wet, making it a pain in the arse to pack up, as well as freezing our hands. But we manage and hit the trail by 10.30.

The start of the walk is similar to the end of yesterdays walk, making our way through the dense and damp forest around 50 metres above the glacier. We are getting closer to the front of the glacier, and there are massive icebergs floating down the river, and big rainbows adding some wonderful colours to the grey sky.

We knew from the trail map that there would be some ladders involved today, and we soon encounter our first, a 15 metre ladder down a cliff into a a small gully with a strongly flowing creek running through it, which then cascades off into the glacier, cool! Mojo heads down first, and then me. It is a little daunting getting onto the ladder, as you have to get your legs up and across the first railings about 40cm up and with a heavy backpack on and it's slippery . The railings are freezing and by the end our hands are numb again, but the adrenalin soon warms them up. Soon after we encounter another ladder, this time taking us up. Next up it is a wobbly suspension bridge that not only bounces with ones weight, but also from the winds coming down from the mountain.

Shortly after we have passed the front of the glacier, making for some great views up the entire length of it. Unfortunately, as there is a bit of low cloud and mist it does not come through as well as it could in the photo's. Not long after we reach refugio grey, the first of the refugio's on the popular W trek. It's a bit surreal, as its our first bit of civilisation after 5 days and quite fancy. But there is a shop, and i buy some throat lozenges (thank god), some chocolate and a beer!!! We have some lunch, and quickly make moves to get to Grande Paine, a further 12km away. We have been told that the walk is supposed to be quite easy, but the bastards lied... Not long after leaving the refugio we clamber up 100m on a steep ascent, with some parts involving a bit of rock climbing. There are streams of people walking the opposite way as well, which is a bit of a shock as in the previous 5 days we only encountered a few groups walking in the same direction as us, as we overtake each other during the day as each respective party rests and eats. The walkers we encounter are also very clean when compared to the motley crew we look like (and probably smell like!).

As we reach the summit of the steep part, the path makes its way further up on a more gradual incline and the wind starts howling in from behind us. It is as strong as the winds we experienced on our second day, and i find it a pain in the hole. As it makes walking harder, hurts my throat even more, and makes it damn near impossible to take a photo as you cannot hold the camera steady. Mojo, meanwhile likens it to a theme park ride, and is giggling like a school girl at a bieber concert. She discovers that running a few steps and then jumping in the air is akin to flying... I can't wait to get into a sheltered area.

We push on believing that we do not have that much further to go, but soon realise after closer inspection of the map and some of the landmarks that we have at least 2 hours to go. The chocolate that was bought at the shop comes in handy to not only lift our energy, but also our spirits, and after a few punishing hours we descend into a small canyon and then pop out at refugio grande paine. We were told by some other trekkers that this refugio was the 'vegas' of refugios and they were not kidding. It is a large lodge, and is next to a wharf where passengers are transported by catamaran from the other side of the lake. So there was a lot of people staying there. But it had hot showers for us smelly campers, as well as an indoor cooking area that had gas cookers.

The showers were not open until 7pm, so after setting up camp we went with Mike and David (another trekker we had met) and got ourselves a beer and some pringles (truly spoiled today!). At 6.50 Mojo races back to the tent to get the shower gear ready and finds that the bloody thing had been flatted by the wind which was screaming through. I venture out some 5 minutes later after downing my beer, and find mojo holding the tent together with some assistance from Mike, not the best time for me to take my time finishing my beer... After some repositioning, and some repair work with a dozen or so cable ties, I make it somewhat resemble what it should look like and we are good to go for a shower. As Mojo was holding the tent together she is not ready for the shower so i pounce and go first, having a half decent shower. The water fluctuated between hot and cold, so one moment you would be standing with cold water pouring out, then as soon as some hot water came through (probably when someone got out of one of the other showers) you quickly take advantage. The windows are open, as is the door, so the air is cold. After getting out of the shower i find that some ditzy german backpacking girls have thought it a smart idea to shut the main door into the shower room, thus locking us in! We manage to get someone on the other side of the door to get someone to come and unlock it, but not after standing there in thongs and a towel for 15 minutes. Mojo must be thinking i am taking the mickey and having the worlds longest shower.

After cooking up more 'yummy' soup and dehydrated potato, we hit the sack, legs still quivering after 2 big days of walking. The wind is still howling, and then tent is a bit flatter then it should be, but we did hire some additional sleeping mats today that will make it a helluva more comfortable sleep tonight.

Additional photos below
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Big icebergs floating down streamBig icebergs floating down stream
Big icebergs floating down stream

the large one is bigger then a house

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