Heading north from Antarctica, we stopped in a town called Puerto Natales, a well known backpackers town for avid hikers of Torres del Paine- a national park encompassing mountains, a glacier, a lake, and lots of river in the extreme southern area Chilean Patagonia. Now I wouldn’t consider Adam and I regular hikers, but since we were joined by our Finnish friends Anu and Tuula once again, it was something we all agreed would be a fun experience for 4 days and 3 nights, with an estimated total distace of 45 kilometers. We had to rent everything from tents, propane, pots and pans, hiking poles, etc.
The weather our first day was sunny, warm, and windy, but it would change quite drastically without notice. Before our hike even began, we had to take a three hour bus ride and half hour boat ride to the starting point of the trail. Our first day we hiked about 9 kilometers in about about 5 hours. The scenery was beautiful with a gorgeous backdrop of one snow capped mountain and one barren mountain, it was like the mountains were misplaced because they looked so different from each other. We hiked up many a high incline of rocks to our first campsite called Campamiento Inglaterra, set up camp and started cooking our first meal of chicken and rice which I messed up and overcooked the rice-oops! As the sun was setting it was getting cooler outside, so bad dinner or not- it was warm and welcoming. Surprisingly we all slept pretty well that evening and woke up early to head further up the path to the look-out point, or mirador.
The scenery during our second day was also pretty amazing because we were walking past a large glacier that would break off every now and then. It sounded almost like cracking thunder, but then you would see a waterfall of ice and snow falling. Day two was a little tougher to walk because our shoulders were sore from the day before, but we pushed through until we reached our second camping site. This one was a little more crowded than the last, which I didn’t really like, but there was nothing I could do about it. They also had a sort of hot tub/ bath thing in the middle of the site and as soon as Adam saw it he was determined to just hop in. That evening we played cards after dinner, but the rain started to pick up so we headed to bed a little early.
Day three was a little harder than the past two days because it would be a longer day (16 kms) and uphill most of the way which I was not looking forward to. After a long 8 hour hike we arrived at our final camping site, set up our tents and started dinner right away because we would be waking up extremely early the next morning. The plan was to be up at 3:30 am, eat a quick breakfast and start our 45 minute hike up almost vertical mountain to the mirador to watch the sunrise on the Torres.
Our hike seemed longer than the expected 45 minutes to the top (it was a 700 meter incline), it was still dark out at 4 am, and the only way to see was with our head torches. Unfortunately we had a very cloudy, overcast sunrise and the Torres didn’t have the traditional burning affect with the sunrise like they are supposed to on a clear day. We did get some okay photos. Leaving a little disappointed, we descended the mountain to breakdown camp and finish up the remaining 12 kms to the lodge at the end of the trail. After it was all said and done it was a great hike with some fantastic views and interesting birds along the way. We ended very tired, dirty, sore and relieved to be sleeping in a bed that evening.