OMG, I feel like a grandma! The muscles in my legs are hurting, I didn’t even know I had these muscles and now I walk around Torres del Paine as a granny. I even see people looking at me (and probably laughing) when we have dinner at one of the campsites. Elmar is the one who’s laughing the most!
But that’s oke, he looks like a grandpa! 😉 We both can still laugh about our discomfort.., our cycling muscles must have eaten our hiking ones… Well, who cares. We’ll get there!
It’s a good thing we made a wise decision not to hike the full Paine circuit, but ‘just’ the 5-day W-trek. We’ve rented some backpacks in Puerto Natales and stuffed them with food for five days. We almost fall over backwards when we first put them on our shoulders…, but not to worry, they’ll eventually get lighter!
On the first day we take an early bus to the park, then a short boat ride across turquios colored Lago Pehoe to arrive at the start of the trek. From here we’ll be hiking to Lago Grey, 3,5 hours according to the map… 5,5 hours later we can finally set up camp at campamento Lago Grey, totally exhausted. We manage to slowly walk a bit further to see the majestic glacier.., what a start!
Day 2 is a 19 kilometer hike, so we get up early to beat the crowd. The sun is shining and we have a good view of Cuernos del Paine (2600 meter), to quench our thirst we simply drink the clear water from the streams. The track is a rocky one with the occasional tree trunk and loose pebbles. Our shoulders, neck and hips are starting to ache and our feet are burning in our shoes after the 9 hour hike to Campamento Italiano. Wow, never thought hiking would be so hard for us! But, day 3 should be an easy one! Right? Right!
No more than 21 kilometers and a 750 meter climb up to Mirador Brittanico in Valle de Frances, but it’s without our backpacks. When we return to our tent, all we want to do is just roll inside, tuck ourselves in and sleep for a week! But, we have done only half of todays trek! It takes a lot of effort to keep going, our whole body feels sore and that heavy backpack isn’t helping! It’s a good thing the views are worth the pain! In 3,5 hours we walk to Campamento Los Cuernos (it’s supposed to take only something like 1,5 to 2 hours…) and when we get there we take a quick shower, shovel some pasta inside our mouths (I’m too tired to lift my spork!) and head for our sleeping bags. Before we hit the pillows, we already sleep! 😉
On day 4 we finally feel a bit better, the muscle ache is a lot less, the backpack feels good and the energy has returned! Campamento Torres, here we come! Like frolicing deer we cover the 21 kilometers in no time and this time we have many camping spots to choose from! Crazy! But, since we want to get up really early tomorrow, we go to bed right after dinner.
At 3.30 AM our alarm clock goes off and with sleepy eyes, we peek outside to see what the weather is like. Meanwhile we hear more tent zippers open.. and close again. Lights go out and people go back to sleep: it’s raining! Ohno! For 4 days we’ve had great weather and now, when we want to see the sunrise over the Torres it’s raining?!?!? We’re in doubt and listen to the drops ticking on the tent, should we or should we not go. For a moment we think (or want to believe) the rain has stopped and quickly we put on clothes, jumo out of our tent, put on our headlights and start hiking. It’s pitch dark and only the beams of our headlights are visible. As soon as we start hiking up, we see five other lights following us. It’s still raining, but we keep going and the higher we climb, the colder it is and the rain turns into an icy one and later even a bit of snow. But, it’s such a thrill to hike here at night! We can feel the adrenaline pump through our veins and even if we would not see the sun hit the Torres, the hike is well worth it!
We climb 900 meters up, it’s cold, wet and foggy. Before us a greenish lake and behind that the majestic towers with their heads in the clouds. There’s a glimpse of sunlight and the wind is working hard to clear up the skies, so we wait… we find a spot below a few hanging rocks and together with the other 5 hikers we wait. In a split-second, we have beautiful sunlight and golden rocks, but it dissapears soon after. The towers show themselves to us, a granite wall straight up into the sky. It’s freezing up here, we would love to stay some more, but fingers and toes are starting to hurt. On the walk down, we finally warm up a bit. Ok, we didn’t actually see the sun lit the towers, but we are glad we hiked up this morning.