Day 17-Wednesday 24th October 2018 Day 4 – Campamento Italiano – Campamento Chileno
By plane – 0
By foot – 36.2 kms/ 22.5 miles
By public transport – 0
Steps taken – 53,058
Lying in the tent last night and this morning we continuously heard the noise from the crashing ice falling from the glacier…it was quite something.
This was our last full day on The W and it was going to be a nice long hike ahead, the guides say 8-10 hours, so we needed to be away early to give ourselves time to get there.
It started off flatish, I say flatish but I’m using that term loosly, then upwards it went.
We walked for hours along the side of a lake, which was the most georgous of colours, we walked along a pebbled beach, through green trees, across and through rivers, past horses, it was unending.
So this was the type of terrain most days, all day which was very hard on the feet
Stepping constantly up and over things like this…yip you can imagine
And then just for a laugh you also had to go through bog fields trying to balance yourself and everything else as you crossed
There are supposedly high winds in this area but not today, it was perfect conditions for hiking high.
The trail continued around the Lago Nardenskjold and after about 5.5 hrs we reached a shortcut to Chileno.
Can you see the trail going up the mountain in the top middle…yip that was where we were heading
This shortcut prevents you from dropping further down the mountain, but and this is a big but, it was a shortcut that went uphill, steeply.
Now this was one long long hike with a heavy pack…how come nothing is feeling lighter at this stage?
Another 1.5 hours later we arrived at the Campamento Chileno.
We had blitzed it but it was so hard going.
The amount of steep hills, bolder crossing after boulder crossing, walking through streams, across bog fields…..with our heavy gear…but it was what it was!
After setting up tent we decided to use this time to visit the Mirador Torres for the first time and watch sunset to see the 3 peaks of Torres Del Paine before returning to camp. I was just so excited to see these I couldn’t wait til the morning.
Raised platforms, we had to nail down our tent, never had to do that before!
This was the view from our tent. Can you see the towers through the trees?
We were absolutely knackered at this point but felt we had to do this hike tonight as it was a blue sky kind of day. We couldn’t rely on tomorrow for views as the weather is so unpredictable here. If you ask anyone here hey what’s the weather situation tomorrow, they smile and reply “it’s Patagonia, no predictions”….and it’s so true!
This hike would hopefully take us around 2 hours walking straight uphill but its all good news we only had light rucksacks on so it should be easy peasy.
As we set off however we were instantly de-flated as a rope with a sign saying ‘trail closed’ greeted us. The rangers obviously close the treks at certain times but it had never happened to us before and we hadn’t saw any signs stating this. I was so determined at this point I jumped the rope and ran that trail.
On practically running uphill for 1 hour, it’s amazing what adrenaline can do, we reached an open area which again had a rope across the path saying it was closed by the rangers, no-one was to pass or there could be sanctions.
Now at this point I was almost hyperventilating thinking I wasn’t going to get through. There were a few people sitting around at this point and my thinking was how do I get passed them and across that rope.
Andy decided to ask two guys sitting near the rope if they had saw any rangers. The guys told us the ranger had closed the path approximately 1 hour ago and then he went up the path 30 minutes later….the same path we wanted to go up!
So we jumped that rope too.
The next section was once again up hill, boulder scrambling for around 1.5 hours. We managed up quite quickly but the people coming downwards were looking at us quite strangely. Possibly thinking do they know the trails closed or that we quite well may have looked like the devil himself possessed…but I had to get to those towers….we had started to see them.
Getting closer and closer
We then met two Americans that had been in each of our campsites and we told them our predicament. They said there were 5 people still up at the towers and the ranger who was sweeping everyone up….and that we were also literally 5 minutes away…just over a rock scramble….they said go for it….so we took our chances.
Three more people passed us going down which meant 2 people were now left up there going by the Americans calculations…so we agreed that as soon as we saw the two people come towards us and we were told the ranger was dressed all in green, we would turn around quickly and pretend we were walking off the mountain down the way…it was better to walk off than be thrown off no matter how desperate we were!
Then low and behold the two people came towards us followed by the ranger….so I played my part well by turning around and started to pretend to photograph a nearby mountain…the couple who were right at me at this point sniggered and asked if we were trying to dodge the ranger…they knew what we were up to.
Andy my partner in crime however at this point did not stick to the plan but pleaded with the ranger in his best Irish/Spanish accent and got us a pass….the ranger took us to the towers!
Getting to the Torres was the most amazing feeling. It was a strenuous hike/run, after already doing strenuous hikes!! But the accomplishment of making it here felt good…it felt really good.
And wow, the views.
These peaks are the most iconic and beautiful image of the park and Patagonia.
We took it in.
We witnessed some views, the 3 peaks of Torres Del Paine right there, and the lake at the bottom which is usually such a beautiful blue colour frozen over which just added to the perfection.
This place was captivating me. Time right here right now was perfect. The beauty of the view displayed in front us is almost impossible to describe.
These massive granite towers that give the Park its name were right there in front of us.
I sometimes say I don’t really know all the reasons why I hike…what I know though is that when I am not walking, I find myself wishing I was, always thinking about the next trip. Then the next time comes…and then there I am…my feet on the trail, my pack on my back, my journey in motion, my dreams alive.
Sometimes I travel not to go anywhere in particular but just to go…just to move…to be free. My happiness being about direction, not really an actual place.
I do have a real symptom you know, well that’s my excuse anyway. The dictionary, not the doctor, describes it as a ‘novaturient’ – a desire to alter your life, the feeling that pushes you to travel….I get this feeling regularly. I kind of hate having my life disrupted with routine!
I would gladly live out of a backpack if it meant I could see the world and views like this and life is certainly better in my hiking boots.
You might be thinking right now that I’ve actually cracked, she’s lost her mind, carried too much weight, walked too many miles, she’s dehydrated, she’s an actual looney…they’d all be true…..
…but I dare you. Just take a peek outside your window. Watch as the sun shines through the glass or the rain drops down the pane. The world outside your window is an absolutely inspirational place. And where nature lies, there is potential for exploration.
We reluctantly left the views as the ranger had been so nice we didn’t want to outstay our welcome. But I was one happy girl!
Tonight’s dinner was a real treat…or was it actually?! So we had our usual pasta for tea in our bags. What we didn’t realise though was that cooking was prohibited in this campsite…I mean where have you heard the likes!
We would therefore have to eat/pay for the campsites food or starve. I didn’t actually agree with this ‘policy’ as surely that’s the whole part of the experience of camping?
But it was their rules, we would have to eat indoors/pay rediculous prices here for food or starve.
We reluctantly agreed to eat in the restaurant, paying the crazy prizes but what I was even more annoyed at was that we had carried tonight’s tea all the way here for nothing and we would then have to further carry it all the way out with us as you have to take all your rubbish with you.
So we did have a rather refined 3 course meal, with wine, dressed like, looking like and smelling like tramps, and that’s an insult to tramps..and we wolfed the lot down!
I must state here that I am all for the protection of forests, outside space, wild life etc and I am totally aware of what forest fires can do…I have witnessed it here in this very park and saw catastrophic consequences of carelessness. However every other campsite had a protected area where by you were only allowed to cook in, infact in two of the campsites you had to go into inside space to use your stoves….they could have done that here, there was space….just saying! Hmmmm I wonder what their real reasons for this was!!
Anyway we went to bed early on a full tummy as we wanted to dream about the towers and get up early in the morning to see sunrise at them.