06 February 2008

Patagonia: Torres del Paine

Day 1:
We awoke bright and early to catch the 7:30 but to TdP. Luckily the night before we were able to hurridly buy groceries. Here they are:

It was a three hour bus ride to the first stop, and of course I slept the WHOLE WAY! I really need to stop doing that. Luckily I didn't miss too many good views! I did wake up for this Gaucho and his heard of sheep!

We arrived at the first of three bus stops and paid the $15 Entrance Fee and recieved maps of the park. Then all HECK broke loose! We realized our intended route, starting at Grey Glacier and moving toward the Towers, would not really be possible. So we scrapped the whole plan and decided to just hop off the bus there! Here's us and our bags - so excited...so niave.... We started walking towards the first camp, but little did we know that we walked 7.5km uphill, along a dusty dirt road, when we could have paid $2 to take a mini bus into Refugio y Camapiento Las Torres! Dang! Don't make that mistake! As you can see, even though we tired ourselves out early, the views were worth it! Here's walking into the park.

What a view!
Bridge Looking back over the valley Cumulous Nimbus!

After a brief respite and some food, we started really up into the mountains. The hiking was hard and much more arduous than any of us really anticipated. Being that it was our first day, the bags were also at thier heaviest. Mine was probably north of 40lbs. I know that Ryan and Adam had close to 60!

The weather also started turning on us.We got into this canyon and the wind just started WHIPPING through in at least 100mph gusts. I think at one point I yelled into the wind, "Okay, we get the MEMO! IT'S WINDY!!!" The wind was also a constant 40mph and we just wanted to get out of there! We didn't take very many pictures during this hike, but here are a few good ones of the views.

Here's the massive mountain we circled.
Looking Back down Hope you aren't scared of falling off the edge! MASSIVE waterfall

FINALLY we reached our camp where Ryan had already begun pitching the tent (he went ahead to secure a good site). Tuckered out and tired of carrying three bottles of wine, we decided to drink two bottles and save one for Christmas!

That turned out to be a GREAT idea. It instantly warmed us up, and gave us the extra surge of energy to keep on climbing up to the towers! Oh, plus we ate some pasta...but thats not nearly as memorable as WINE!

From here I'll let most of the pictures do the talking, but we headed through a massive boulder field to get to the viewpoint for Las Torres, or the Towers. It was about an hour hike each way, but with our wine-o buzz we hardly noticed the climb! It was BREATHTAKING! At the top we ran into some really nice Israeli's who shared some wine and chocolate with us! We started comeing 11pm, at sunset. It was still light until almost midnight. Ryan hiked back up the next morning, and that's why some of the pictures are different in coloring. There's no denying that it's definitely beautiful!

Day 2:
I apologize because I'm really trying to resist the urge to be long winded, but this 5-day trek was really somewhat of a life changing experience, and I just want to make sure to share it in it's full splendor with all of you. So if you're still reading, congratulations. If you are cross-eyed...well I'm sorry. Grab some coffee and power through!

We rose bright an early to begin our second day....okay, I'm lying, we didn't roll out of bed until around 10am. But Ryan got up early and did the hike again! Good for him.
Here's my favorite breakfast food - Hot Coco with Powdered Milk. And I'm not kidding when I say this, I actually really LOVE powdered milk! It's perfect for camping!

After breakfast we set off, hobbling back down the mountain. Kristi had unfortunately hurt her knee, but she was a champion limping down the hill with her new found companion "Stick" - hey I said she was a trooper, not that she was creative at naming walking sticks! We managed to make it to the camp about two hours down the hill and stopped for a rest before setting out into the gale-force winds yet again.

Again, most of what i have to share is in pictures, so here you go! Here we are starting back down the windy canyon: More walking out, you could see for days! And i thought Montana was Big Sky Country! This is the mountain/glacier we circumnavigated the first day. Our view once we got into the vally
In this picture we're walking toward the a sign. You can see below what it actually says......phew, only 4.5 more hours!
Kristi's camera was AMAZING! She got so many great up-close shots!

A few hours down into the valley, we caught up with a big group of people. Not only were their bags strewn everywhere, but the poeple were literally laying right in the middle of the trail. As in we had to GO AROUND them, off of the trail, to keep moving. Later we would come to find out that this was a family from Chile and thier signifacant others. The kids were about 15-20, and the young girls had also brought along the boyfriends. Now i'm all for family vacations, but this would be the first of THREE TIMES they would directly block the trail, and the first of many times they would annoy us in one way or another...but i digress...

A local bird, we would see this later on the trip as well. Surprisingly, there was very little wildlife in the park
We rested for a while at this little river after our encounter with the dreaded Chilean Family. It felt SO GOOD to rinse our hot feet in the freezing river!

So speaking of freezing rivers...we eventually came to this RAGING glacial runoff-boulder field that we
had to ford our way through. As you can see, it was troublesome for many people. The parks service was even so kind as to put up this nice little "crossing wire" for us.

Here are some shots of the "trail" we had the priveledge of walking on:

Now some "beauty shots". The water you see is actually being blown upwards by the strong winds.

FINALLY we made it to camp. Here is the resulting trauma on my ankles. It wasn't pretty. Okay that's it for now!

Patagonia: The W Route


We chose to do the shorter and more popular W route through Torres del Paine. It took us five days and the trails were very poorly maintined. Here's a GREAT map and the itinerary:

(click to expand the image to regular size, lower right hand corner)

Day 1: 18km, 10 hours

  • Leave Puerto Natales by bus arrive Parque National Torres del Paine
  • Walk 7.5km on dirt road to camp Hosteria las Torres
  • Continues 8.5km, past pay camp (Refugo y Campamiento Chileno), to free Campamiento Torres - all up-hill, trail basically boulder field
Day 2: 18km, 9 hours
  • Leave Campamiento Torres, lunch at camp 2 hours down the mountain
  • Traversed across wide valley at base of glacier - poor trail quality
  • Arrive Refugo y Campamiento Los Cuernos
Day 3: 5.5km, 3 hours (15km more for boys)
  • Traverse to camp Italiano
  • Ryan & Adam went up the French Valley to viewpoint, 15km roundtrip
Day 4 (Christmas Day!): 18.6km, 12 hours
  • Leave camp Itiliano and hike to Lago Pehoe
  • From Lago Peho grueling 11km to Lago Grey - by far teh most difficult day of hiking
Day 5: 11km, 4 hours
  • Leave Lago Grey and hike back to Lago Pehoe
  • Ride ferry out past 5 days worth of walking
Total: 71.1km, 38 hours of hiking