Sunday, February 8, 2009

Doing the W - Torres del Paine, Chile

Just got back into Punta Arenas after a 5 night 6 day hike in Torres del Paine - the W circuit - with 8 compadres also going on this Antarctic cruise. An interesting one for me, as my usual hiking buddies tend to be either just myself or one or two others, so hiking with 8 other people naturally brought out some nervousness in me. Easier to make decisions and pace if you're going solo, and easier to hear and see the nature around you with fewer people around. 

All super nice people I went with, but the  group hiking thing is definitely not for me, but you've got to try these things to really know, and for certain (short) hikes I would absolutely go with this group again, they were a lot of fun in camp at times. Many of my preconceived notions were realised en-route, but when expected were easier to deal with. Much went better than I thought and to be honest the overwhelming beauty of the park took over and made the experience a wonderful one and one i'm glad I did. 

Here are the photos.......

Guanacos and Nandus at the park entrance...

Fabio and Angelo, the boys from Brazil, do some yoga stretches before heading out on the second day of hiking to Campamento Torres, under the Torres del Paine for which the park is named. 

With just one minute to go to the camp, people started to fade.....

But after setting up camp and hiking without packs up to the "Torres del Paine" (Towers of Paine), it was all worth the slog up there, they even came out of the mist for us for a few minutes. Beautiful. 

The third night, we hiked out to Refugio Los Cuernos, situated under the Cuernos (the Horns) and on the shore of Lago Nordenskjold. That night we were treated to an amazing sunset (at 10pm!) over the lake. 

The next day (day 4) was a hike to Camp Italiano and a day hike into Valle del Frances (French Valley) and this is a view from a viewpoint midway through the valley. After this point the group continued up and I decided I needed some space and headed out to hike some of the smaller trails in the valley myself, exploring a moraine field and taking photos, and had a lovely, refreshing and well needed me-time hike. 

Going from Camp Italiano to Refugio Paine Grande, this was the shores of Lago Skottsberg with the Los Cuernos (the Horns) in the background. They were really spectacular, the different colours on the mountains are different types of rock, it's not shadows. Pretty stunning tricoloured mountains. 

Happy feet! My latest camping companion, my crocs (thanks Lala!). My heel (scar from the screen door incident - don't look if squimish) blistered up pretty badly, and my other heel decided to join in after a few days too. Pretty disappointed and not sure why - good boots, broken in, double socks, powdered feet, not sure what else I could have done (have any good anti-blister advice please share!). Could have just been the weight I guess, I was going pretty heavy with 3 peoples dinner, tent and stove as well as personal stuff (sleeping bag, mat, clothes). Either way, it didn't affect my pace too much, just a pest, and was so glad of my crocs in the evenings!

At the Refugio Grande Paine, sitting on the shore of Lago Pehoe watching Los Cuernos. 

The view from my tent, the moon rising through Los Cuernos. You can really see the two colours of rock here. 

The last leg of the W - the  hike to Glacier Grey. We did this as a day hike up and back (which was a good choice!) and this is from a viewpoint middway on the hike. 

Myself and tent-companion Laura contemplating Glacier Grey and the very end of the W circuit. 

The advance party back at Paine Grande, enjoying a celebratory Pisco (or two). 

The view of the park as we left today, the Paine Massif. Beautiful. Here is a post with the same picture from when I went here in the snow last year. 


kyllimarjaana said...

You are living marvelous life !! Pictures and storys are magnificent .

nicola said...

amazing, R! i am envious, except for the blisters!

bsa said...

Welcome back!

I have been checking your blog daily since I didn't know how long your adventrue was. It sounded wonderful and more, it sounded as if you continue to learn about versus just a few folk. I am glad that you got in some solo hiking as well. thank heavens you had your crocs with you!

Your photos are wonderful--especially the one of the Torres--imagine seeing them so clearly! What a treat.