Monday, 10 February 2014

Towers of Pain

Some of my lovely photos of our time inside the park.

So I have spent the last 9 days trekking the circuit in the Torres del Paine national park and while the title of this blog post is not a direct translation, after my experience I am pretty sure it must be close! 

I have to admit though, that while trekking with a huge bag and camping are definitely not my thing, it was worth it. The park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The best description i heard for it was "unrelentlessly beautiful". Every corner you turn reveals a new mountain range, valley or glacier to gawp at. The whole place was insanely colourful and word "wow" was definitely over used! 

As I said in my last blog post we had a guide for our trip, and while you definitely don't need one (if you are an organised and practical person..), I was so glad we did. John was an awesome guide, a great cook and an incredibly interesting person. He knew all the rangers (which meant a lot of perks, including hot showers), and had some great stories about the park and his adventures. Most amazing of all was how he ended up in Patagonia. Originally from the mountains in Columbia, he cycled for 7 months to get here after a friend told him he would like it!!

Me, John and Dave (the photographer)

Our trekking group was quite small, just me, the photographer and another couple called Alan and Jane. Having left their jobs back in Australia to travel, they had already been in Chile for a month and by the sounds of it had been on loads of adventures in that time. Unfortunately after a very hard first couple of days, Jane decided the huge backpack wasn't for her and chose to head back to Peurto Natales. So we ended up as a merry band of four! 

The main thing I learnt during the trek were that I am definitely not built for the mountains. After two days I had hurt my knee, was sunburnt and had mosquito bites all over my face. I definitely did not manage the mountain chic look that many of the girls were rocking. Give me a beach, 40 degrees and humidity any day.

Here is a little breakdown of what we did for anyone that is interested in doing a similar trip:

Day 1: Walked uphill for 4 hours to Campemento Torres, set up camp and then went up to the see the towers which were amazingly not covered in cloud. 

Day 2: A super long day, up at 4:30 to get to the towers for dawn, unfortunately they were covered in could but the sunrise was amazing (you know how much I love a good sunrise- especially when I am on the right side). Walked back downhill and on to Camp Seron (another 6 hours), via the enchanted valley (seriously that's what it was called).

The Enchanted Valley

Day 3: From Seron to Camp Dickson, our first taste of Patagonian wind and some amazing views of the valley. About 6 hours walking. 

The lake by camp Dickson

Day 4: Uphill through the lush green forests to camp at the base of Los Perros glacier (It was so chilly). 

Day 5: The John Gardner pass, the hardest part of the trek, steep uphill then downhill in strong winds and horizontal snowfall (that felt like a thousand tiny slaps in the face). I was so wrapped up and definitely felt like an arctic explorer! Camped at Campemento Paso, the smallest and least luxurious campsite, with amazing views of Glacier Grey. 

Looking hot at the top of the pass

Day 6: A super long trek to Paine Grande, but an amazing walk along Glacier Grey and Lake Grey, then though beautiful valleys. Paine grande was the most luxurious campsite (it even had a bar), this lulled me into a false sense of security, and made me feel like the worst was over!! The wind at the campsite was intense, and I barely got a wink of sleep.

Icebergs in Lake Grey

Day 7: A short walk to Campemento Italiano, but definitely a hard day. I was not in the zone!! 

On the way to Italiano
Day 8: Up to the Brittanic view point. Amazing views down the French Valley, but a very hard up and down trek. No big bags though as we left them at Italiano and spent another night there!! 

Avalanche watching

Day 9: The home straight! Up super early as we had a good distance to cover before the bus at 2pm. After 5 hours of a rapid pace, we made it to Hotel Las Torres for a mega posh lunch before the bus back to Peurto Natales. Back at Erratic Rock I had the best shower of my life followed by an awesome and huge dinner at La Picada de Don Carlitos. 

Been there, done that, got the Tshirt
Sorry for such a long post - so much ground to cover... I am sure you are all glad I am back in one piece and blogging again though! 

On the bus home, a goodbye photo.

Our well deserved meal back a Peurto Natales, a giant yummy steak!!!


Location: Torres del Paine national park

Boot camp rating: 9/10

Profile pictures: 0 I looked awful for 9 days. 

Cover photos: A lifetimes worth.

Trantrums: Numerous, I literally started hitting the photographer with my walking poles at one point because I was so annoyed at him for booking the trip... 

Epiphany's: 0 you would have thought the mountains would have had some effect...

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