Avalanches noodles bristolians and nice shoes

Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
Trip End Dec 24, 2008

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Excert from The Lonely Planet: 
"Torres del Paine treks are not without difficulty and hikers have suffered terrible injuries and even died...as knee deep mud, snow and winds are inevitable... the vicious winds can toss you off the trail."

We laughed in the face of danger and set off on Friday for 5 days trekking armed with 18 portions of quick cook cheese flavored noodles, enough porridge oats to feed Scotland, one emergency chocolate bar, a pair of battered Nike air max, an even more battered pair of vans and twenty quid tent that had already proved it would leak if you just spat on it. This was gonna be fun!

We arrived at the entrance gate on Friday morning to be fleeced for 30 quid by the park authorities, where this money goes we have no idea. To enter the park you have to cross a bridge which had collapsed overnight into the river, stuck already, was this a sign of things to come? Luckily some enterprising young Chilean had arrived with a landrover and soon started charging trekkers to drive them across the river. Once inside the park, the Grey menacing clouds disappeared and sun came out to reveal amazingly high granite peaks covered in snow, green and blue lakes dotted the landscape and llamas were busy keeping the grass to a reasonable length. We set off and walked for about 5 hours up-hill to the campsite and marveled at the very beautiful scenery.
Saturday morning was an early start as this was going to be our longest day. We had planned to trek for 20 kilometers, the same length as a half marathon, and the path would be mostly up meaning it would take about 9 hours of walking not including breaks. The park was stunning to look at, the snow on top of the mountains was melting in the summer temperature creating small avalanches every hour. The first you knew about an avalanche would be a huge deep explosion and a rumble that echoes around the valleys, you look up and see a tide of snow running down the mountain, towards you, no only joking mum´s, very impressive.

On Sunday we were very tired from walking for 2 days and rested in the morning before hiking up the French valley in the afternoon for 4 hours. At the top of the valley we saw our first glacier and after watching some more avalanches we headed back down to the campsite. On Sunday night the rain started and most of our things got wet.

Monday morning arrived and it was still raining, not much of a problem because we have waterproof macs and trousers but our excellent hikking shoes (see photo above) were the worst to suffer from the wet, having the same waterproof ability of a wet paper bag. We decided it was best to catch the ferry back to civilization that evening. To make the most of our last day in the park we did another huge 10 hour trek walking up a third valley to see the impressive Glacier Grey. This glacier rolled down the valley (very slowly that is) and into the aptly named Lake Grey where giant ice-cubes broke off the glacier and floated into the lake.

The whole four days was amazing fun, jumping across rivers, scrambling up boulders, camping in the wilderness, watching avalanches and generally checking out a very beautiful national park. If your ever in the area, its worth a visit.

On Tuesday we caught a bus to the famous southern city of Punta Arenas. This is the furthest south we will go in South America. Since entering Chile three weeks ago I have calculated we´ve traveled south, covering almost 4000 kilometers, thats the equivalent of traveling from Norway to Nigeria!

The town of Punta Arenas started life 60km south of here, founded in 1843 by Captain John Williams, a seaman from, guess where, the best city in the UK, BRISTOL! So to get a feel for the vibe of this place we went for a beer, to the famous basement bar of Club de la Union, where Antarctic explores, geologists, trekkers and sailors have communed for many a night. The city was founded on the riches of ´White gold´ the name for wool harvested from the 2 million or so sheep. Today we are visiting a Penguin island to see the chicks and tomorrow its back up to El Calafate in Argentina to meet my in-laws and Kat's parents, Don & Margaret.

Cooper Out

Love Dan & Kat
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