Tuesday, 17 March 2015
Torres del Paine trail
Returned from the famous Torres del Paine hike, located on the Chilean side of Patagonia.
Did the "Q", which is the longest hiking route with about 130km in this park.
Before I started hiking I went to the free 3-o-clock-talk @ Basecamp next to erratic rock hostel.
There you get a bunch of information about the trail, what to bring, the possible trails in the park, how to get there and the available camp sides and Refugios. It is totally worth it to go to the talk because you also meet other hikers who want to do the trail and if you keep asking around you will find someone who wants to do exactly the same route like you. So I met Derek, a guy from the USA and we did the hike together...
On the first day we had awesome weather and started hiking around noon from the bus stop at "Administation" to "Campamento Italiano", 24km away from the trail-head. It was pretty tough and we hiked for 8 hours but we passed some really nice view-points, where you can see the emerald colored lakes and snow covered mountains of the national park.
In the morning of the next day we hiked with our day packs into the valley "Frances" and "Britanico", then back to "Italiano". There we shoulder our big backpacks and headed to "Campamento Los Cuernos". During the night it started heavy raining, and on the next morning we packed our wet stuff and started our hike through the rain and heavy wind to "Campameneto Torres".
But we did not make it to "Torres", because half way up to the camp side we heard that it was closed due to bad weather. So our only option was going down the valley and stay at the camp side "Las Torres" at the foot of the mountains next to the the only hotel in the park.
From the sunny camp side there, we could see the famous Torres-mountains covered in dark rainy clouds. Those mountains are the highlight of the park and we really wanted to see them, so we spent one more day at the camp, waiting for better weather. During that time we met another couple from USA (Chris and Trisha). We spent the rainy day together in the hotel next to the camp side, playing cards, domino and drinking red red wine... :-)
On the 4th day the weather was getting better, so we decided to hike up to the towers. When we arrived there, they were covered in fog and clouds, so that you barely can not see them... We were very upset and already made plans how to get back here on another day, as suddenly the sun burned through, the fog vanished and it became a very nice day. And then we could see the mountains and it was amazing. I can not really describe it, you simple have to be there on your own! :-)
On the same day Derek, Chris and me hiked to "Campamento Seron," which is already on the backside of the mountains.
For me this was the nicest part of the whole trail, because you hike through a spectacular lost valley (like in a fairy tale) with rivers forests and mountains in the background.
On the 5th day we were again lucky with the weather. It was very sunny and you could hike in short pants and shirts. It was a very nice hike along the Rio Paine to "Campamento Dickson". Which is located next to Lago Dickson, where you can see a glacier coming all way down from the mountains to the lake. Every now and then small icebergs passes by the camp going down the Rio Paine. Looks very spectacular!! :-)
On the next day two girls from Denmark (Heidi and Line) joined us and together we headed to "Campamento Los Perros" on the foot of the John Gardener Pass, which we had to pass on the next day. It was a pretty relaxing hike, so that we could rest for the next day...
But the camp side was very muddy and it was pretty cold on that day. We made a small fire
in the Refugio, dried our wet clothes, warmed up a little bit and played again cards... ;-)
I remember asking Chris on the next morning if it is raining outside and he responds, "No, not raining but snowing!". I got out of my tent and saw a winter-wonderland. During the night it snowed a lot and our tents were covered in snow. On this very cold morning we packed our stuff and together with a guide we made our way to the John Gardener Pass.
Because we were a big group of hikers, we were very slowly and at one point somewhere on the way up, we left our group to find the way over the pass by our own. It was a very cool experience. Due to the lots of snow and very strong wind you barely can not see where the trail is going to and you have to cross icy rivers and big snow fields...
Somehow we made it over the pass and on the top we had an amazing view of the glacier "Grey", spreading down in the valley in front of us. It looked very bizarre, like a big frozen ocean...
Without waiting for the rest of the group we went down to the valley and slowly the snowfields turns into green forests and the path from an snow-field to a muddy narrow and steep trail.
Once we arrived at the camp side after the pass (6hrs) we had a cup of Whiskey, Chris brought for successfully passing the most difficult part of the Torres del Paine trail.:-)
We decided to carry on to the next camp side ("Campamento Grey"), because there it is warmer and dryer than staying on the foot of the pass, so we hiked for 4 more hours and were totally done when we arrived there.
At "Grey" I met David and Anne (Portugese and English couple i stayed in Buenos Aires with) again and at that time I thought, "Oida, the world is small!". It was so nice to see them again!! :-)
On our last day Derek, Chris, Heidi, Line and me finished the "Q". We ended at "Campamento Paine Grande", from there we took the catamaran back to the bus stop and then back to Puerto Natales.
We ate lamb and pizza that evening and I think we really deserved it after having just
fu^^ing noodles and soup for 9 days in one of the most beautifully national parks I have ever been...