Day 4 - W Trek - Whiteout

Trip Start May 12, 2013
Trip End Jul 30, 2013

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Flag of Chile  , Patagonia,
Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 4:
Heard splattering sounds on the tent and water seeping in at night - something was definitely going on out there.

Got up at 6am to see our entire tent covered in snow - better than rain, we thought. Had breakfast and set off for our 10.5 hour hike (27km) to Campamento Torres at 8. It was freezing and the snow didn't seem to be stoping any time soon. We thought that the skies were clear after we left the valley, but apparently the entire park was blanketed by snow. It was tough navigating in the ankle deep snow. You can't really see what you are stepping on - sometimes my shoe would take a dip into a frozen puddle. The hardest part, though, was the orange poles that was supposed to mark out the trail were mostly covered by the snow. We got lost a few times, walked off the path for some time, and I followed the treks of a puma for a good time when no marking was in sight for a long while (a leap of faith, I thought). The feet got soaked soon as we had to walk through several streams. The terrain for the first 2.5 hours to Refugio Cuernos was like a white forest maze. We thought of stopping our trek there but the place was closed, so we had to push on for the next campsite Campamento Chileano which was 7 hours away. Thankfully the paths from then on was just round the hills, and we got used to it after awhile. A little after the midpoint of the path, we saw the shortcut to Chileano, but decided to head straight for the Hotel/Refugio Las Torres near the end of the trek, giving up on the sunrise views of the Paine next morning, because we were tired and the weather sucked and we wouldn't get a good view anyway.

Along the last stretch towards the end, we strayed off track again, only to find ourselves a nice snow field perfect for making snow angels. There were also many bushes along the way and I saw several hares running around the snow fields. I navigated through the field maze with the Hotel building in sight, and finally got back on the path. (Found out later that another hiker, Billy, followed the crazy downslope and mazey path I created and was probably cursing his way through :p).

Reached the Hotel Las Torres at around 4.15pm, to find out that everything was closed for winter. Luckily we saw two workers at a basement yard and sought help from them. With every little bit of Spanish I could muster, we explained our situation and that we needed somewhere for the night. It was really god sent help when they showed us to a cabana (house) behind the hotel which seemed like a workers' dorm room, for us to stay for the night at no charge.

Finally, a shelter to stay and a proper bed to sleep on. It was the perfect refuge after a long day of snow trekking.

On hindsight, the snow did had its advantages as it evened out the uneven surface of rocks and stones, and provided some much needed cushioning for our knees and ankles. My knees and ankles did not feel the strains of the last few treks today at least. And the icy water in my shoe also numbed my senses to a 20 cent coin blister on my right heel. Snow isn't that bad after all!

Backdated for 25th May 2013
Torres Del Paine, Chile
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