In which we are joined by friend Benya from Seattle and hike the spectacular 80 km, 4-day W Track through Torres Del Paine National Park.
Day 1: Mirador Los Torres, 20 km.
The nice thing about hiking a track shaped like a W is that the three spurs north are all there-and-back, meaning we can leave our heavy packs behind. Day 1, we set up camp almost immediately and then take off up the first spur to Mirador Los Torres. J and B set an impressive (slightly competitive) pace, and we are passing people left and right.
The Mirador is spectacular. We hang out for an hour just taking in the sights and even spot a silver fox among the rocks.
Day 2: Campamento Frances, 13.5 km.
We pick up our packs and trek over some rolling hills and along two different lakes to Campamento Frances.
Apparently, the national park has been experiencing a huge influx of visitors and implemented a reservation system for campsites just this year. The system is a hot mess and told us all campsites were reserved, so we booked into the domos. Which turned out to be posh little domes with bunk beds and hot showers. Even the campsites on this trek have little canteen areas that sell beer and wine. We are at first appalled, then delighted when we are tucked neatly into our domo beds instead of outside in tents when the windstorm hits that night.
Day 3: Britannico Lookout, 21.6 km.
Today, we hike for about an hour before dropping our packs and taking off up the middle spur of the W to Britannico lookout. We are surrounded by stunning rocky cliffs, crashing glaciers, and some super intense wind.
Wind so intense that the waterfalls are caught and travel sideways or even up and dissipate, so that no water ever hits the ground.
Returning from the lookout, we pick up our packs and slog another (stunningly beautiful) leg to Paine Grande, our final camp.
Day 4: Gray Glacier, 25 km.
J and I have done this section of the trail already, but we enjoy taking B up to Gray Glacier Lookout and seeing the changes in the last week. The wind is intense and we are struggling against it the whole way there so that we are slow, even without our big packs on. Miracles do happen, and the wind has not changed direction for our return trip, so we float back to Paine Grande just in time to have a beer in the lodge and hop the ferry back.
On our last day, the clouds were rolling in and out and we had intermittent peltings of rain, but it wasn’t until we were safely on the ferry and then the bus that thick view-blocking clouds descended and heavy rain started. What luck!
The next morning, we catch an early bus back to Argentina and now find ourselves in El Chalten, on the other side of the South Patagonian Ice Field, for some more hiking and climbing.
C bouldering on an awesome layback.
We do our parillas (barbecue meat plates) two at a time.
Til next time! Lots of love,
C & J (& B!)