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Back to Punta Arenas, we took a bus to Puerto Natales, 3 hours north. We bought food for trekking (pasta, rice, dry soups…), and left on Thursday 27th to the national park Torres Del Paine (another 2hours in a bus).
In the bus from Punta Arenas, we met Cindy and Jay, Canadians, who planned as well Torres Del Paine for the following day… And as we met them at the entrance of the park in the morning, we hiked all together!
On this map you can follow our days :
DARK BLUE: We paid the entrance to the park, (a lot!) and we took a shuttle to avoid 7km on a dirt busy road for a couple of thousands more pesos… And we eventually started walking.
BLUE : We walked in the first valley, it was a bit hard, going uphill, adjusting the backpacks, taking off jumpers, putting on rain jackets, taking off rain jackets, putting back on the jumper… yea, the weather was a bit changing!
And we arrived to the first refuge (Chileno), having a rest and a lunch break, before carrying our backpacks to the campsite Torres, where we set up our tents, left our big packs and took only water and clothing to go to the lookout, the base of the towers. One hour later, we arrived to the look out, and we saw…. A lake. Yep, the towers where hidden in the clouds… 😦 We waited a bit to see if the clouds would go away for one second, and they eventually did, not more than for 3 seconds, just time to say “Wooooooo”, and they disappeared again… not even time for a picture!
So we went down to the campsite, a little bit disappointed, but nicely exhausted. We had dinner and went early to sleep.
Friday 28th, ORANGE:
We got up at 4:00 am, to try to see the sunrise on the towers. We started hiking up to the lookout again and got there one hour later, with nice colors of the rising sun in the valley. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the sun on the towers; it was still a little bit cloudy… but was better than the day before! After another bunch of pictures, we were freezing there; we decided to go back to the campsite and had breakfast.
We packed everything up and started walking to the next campsite around 9:00am. We went downhill the same way, it was a real highway of people, the track was wide, and too many people (even people with rubber boots!!! Crazy tourists…). And then, we found a “shortcut sign” to the next refuge / campsite. We took it, and it was a really nice walk, without hundreds of day-trip tourists, and the track was looking like a walking track and not like a gravel road.
We reached the main track a couple of hours later, and felt pretty tired. As it was lunch time, we had our break, in the sun, nice and relaxing moment. But afterwards, for the following 2/3 hours we had almost more breaks than we walked. I guess the waking up at 4am and 2 hours walk at night were the reason… The weather was really nice and we had great views on the lake and on the mountains / glaciers…
So it took us a lot of time to reach the refuge Cuernos, where we had a one hour break, a beer and had real toilets. We didn’t want to stay a night there, because camping next to these refuges cost a lot more money because they have facilities… so we decided to camp only in the free campsites. The net one, camp italiano, was 2 more hours away… and they were probably the hardest 2 hours… started with so much wind that we could barely stand with our backpacks (Jay fell at some point,, he was on his wrong foot when the wind blew him away!) And along the lake, we got free cold showers because the wind was lifting the water in the air… was pretty hard to walk… and afterward we went uphill to the camp site, with a little bit of rain and still really windy. We got there around 7:30pm, exhausted. We tried to find a spot for the tents which was leveled, not really easy but we managed to find something acceptable. We had food, went to bed and slept straight like stones…
Saturday 29th, RED:
We got up slowly, and had a nice blue sky above us. We left our bags at the campsite and took only what we needed for the day in a small backpack. Was really nice to not carry more weight! We started walking up in the Vallee Frances (French Valley) and discovered beautiful glaciers, high mountains, forests… and we could hear and see a lot of avalanches / breaking of glaciers… was amazingly beautiful!
When we reached the lookout at the end of the valley, we expected to see a bit more so we decided to follow some other non-official tracks, where we saw people going… And we went up another hill, which was really worth it. We played a bit with the snow that we found on our way, took a lot of pictures and went down again.
We were not supposed to stay 2 nights in the same free campground, but with Alex we were too exhausted to walk more. So we set up the tent another time. Cindy and Jay walked 2 more hours to reach the refuge Paine Grande and have a decent dinner and wine, and camp there.
We met a friend of Alex and his mum, who were trekking one day behind us! Was pretty funny to meet people like that!
Sunday 30th, PINK:
We had a rainy not quiet and wet night because my tent got wet I don’t really know how with this price… 😀 and we left in the morning to the same refuge (paine grande) to catch a boat and go back to Puerto Natales. It took us one hour and a half, in the rain, to go there. We walked through the burn forest… was a little bit sad and dark, specially with the rain, but interesting!
We were wet, but we were done! We met Cindy and Jay again and they were packing and leaving to the glacier Grey, to take a boat from there the day after.
The boat came, we could board and we were on our way back! We caught the bus afterwards in Pudeto and drove back to Puerto Natales, where the sun was shining and we could dry everything…
We also found a laundry service, to wash everything and we were ready for new adventures, in the Argentinean side of Patagonia!