The ´W´ Patagonia
Trip Start Oct 03, 2006
52Trip End Oct 02, 2007
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Day 1 (Feb. 1st 2007)
Camp Albergue Pehoe
Day one and I began my hike from administrations. Setting off on my 6 day adventure. Laden with all neccessary provisions for the next 6 days, including the essential two cans of beer to celebrate my 27th birthday with. I Began the hike after a little confusion of where the trail began, not sure which way to go. I waited until I saw two others heading off, Anna and Gill (Australian sisters). They lead me in the right direction (despite the lose of their map to the high gales) and we began the trail.
The wind was unlike anything I have experienced. There were comments in the guest book at my hostel, stating you have not experienced wind until you have visited Patagonia. This I found out to be a fare and accurate observation. On numerous occasions the wind almost knocked me off my feet throughtout the first days hike.
One hour into the hike with my backpack feeling extremely heavy, I was feeling I had made the wrong decison to sign up for this and came to the quick realisation that I was more of a rambler than a hiker! I quickly lost sight of the Aussies as they seemed to be very well adapted to hiking and looked like they were merely having a stroll in the park! I felt quite alone walking through a windy field on a hike many people opted to bi pass (catching a boat to the first point of the ┤w┤- sensible people I thought). After an hour and a half I stopped and awardered myself with a cheese sarnie. Finding the only bush to sit behind for shelter, which I suspected somebody else had used but for a different purpose as I sat in a wet patch!
As I made it closer to camp the views of the mountain range where incredible and I found myself faced with my first view of the lake, a turquiose colour very picteresque. On the hike up there was a part of the path that was a little vague and I was unsure if I was on the right trail. I found myself walking down a small stream and the markers had stopped! Eventually picking up markers again and clarification that I was on the right trail, which was a great relief. I then came across a path where it was necessary to cross the lake. I had to take off my boots and socks and wade across. There was an alternative crossing going over planks of wood which naturally I attempted the easiest option first. However, climbing up onto the plank with a heavy pack and weary legs, I almost toppled into the lake so quickly gave up. Eventually I glimpsed my first sighting of camp, what a fantastic feeling. The last part of the walk was on a narrow path on the edge of the mountain, attempting not to be blown off the edge I made it to the camp site after 5 hours and 10 minutes of walking. Blistered, tired and with an aching neck and my upper body in pain.
I pitched my tent on the first bit of grass I found. Then looked around and observed everyone elses tents where sheltered behind bushes and trees and felt perhaps I had been a bit hasty in my camp location. I decided to drink my first beer to celebrate arriving and feeling content that I had walked all I would walk for today I ate my way through bread, noodles, cookies and a mini tolberrone bar and thought I would have no trouble sleeping as my whole body was ready to crash and I have had 4 months of sleeping in dormitories with people snoring and lights being turned on and off! How wrong was I!
The wind whipped at my tent all night and I though I was going to take off in it. I kept one eye open checking the fly sheet was still atttachted. The next morning I felt I hadnt slept all night and was not bright eyed and bush tailed for my next ┤day of hinking. I realised I had spent the first moment of my birthday looking up at my fly sheet and sighing a sigh of relief that it was still there.
Day 2 (2nd Feb. My Birthday)
Campamento Los Guardes
I was wished happy birthday by the Aussie sisters which was a lovely way to start the day. I packed up my tent and began day 2. I had moments when I felt I could have given up. I┤d pass people and they would comment, Ëh your bag looks really heavy!,┤not really what you wanted to hear!
I reached the first camp and decided to head on up for another hour to a free camp with views of the glaciers. I was proud of myself that I kept goinig. I was exhausted when I got there, achey feet and a sore back. My bag had rubbed against my lower back on day one and was being aggreivated today. All this self piting and all of which was self inflicted, I though I must be mad and need my head examined. I had to remind myself I had actually paid to do this! I must have looked quite a state and would often ask, ┤how much longer to camp?┤to which the reply was always, ┤20 minutes.┤ This 20 minutes always had the annoying habit of lasting over an hour! I decided not to believe these ┤20 minute people┤ and made a mental note to grab a walking stick and spear the next person who would tell me it┤s only another 20 minutes!
A nice pick me up part of the day was meeting a guy who was celebrating his 70th birthday. We shared a lovely moment looking out over the glaciers together. He was from S. Africa travelling with his wife and guide and no luggage. I walk up an extra hill to join them for a great view of the glaciers.
I had walked for 4 hours to the first camp and then continued past for another 1 hour. I pitched my tent next to the Aussies who where impressed that I had arrived only half an hour after them. (this I felt immensely proud of). We filled up our drinking bottles from the stream (fresh water straight from the mountains) and sat in wonder looking out over the glaciers. A view worth while but one I definalty had to work for. I used my own stove and equipment for the first time, made a very fitting dinner and washed it down with a birthday beer. I was tucked up in bed, lights out my 9pm (thats what old age does for you) the local discotec closed on fridays! I actually went to my tent and plugged in my ipod and listened to Ob signing my songs and it was lovely. I slept like a brick.
Day 3 (Feb. 3rd)
I woke up feeling lovely and refreshed despite waking up to rain. I waited for an hour for a break in the weather before packing up camp. I managed to get my bag caught on a bush and ended up pinging back, and then mistook an orange bush in the distance for the next camp (a bit of a disapointment to say the least!)
It rained on and off all day, miserable weather, but I quite enjoed walking in the rain. I walked for 5 hours stopped off for lunch (back at camp Pehoe) and set off once more for a further 2 and a half hours of hiking. Collecting blisters (why do I have to have flat feet?). But, my back pack is getting lighter and is better adjusted, my back is not so bad to day so my feet became my main focus of discomfort.
I actually walked extra to see campmento Grey to see the ice in the water. By the time I reached camp I was tired and weary and looked for a while for a better pitching location. The spot available was not an ideal spot and I was worried my tent would leak as tree stumps had meant the tent was not completely anchored down. In order to get to this camp the last part you had to cross a swaying bridge, which I didnt realy like. A sign read maximum of 2 people. I wondered if the weight of my bag classified as 2 people!
I didn┤t end up getting to bed until quite late, as it took a while to cook dinner as it was a little windy.
Day 4 (Feb. 4th)
I over slept today, slept for the first time through my alarm so I didnt get started until gone 11am. I ate my oats for brekie. Met the Aussies who where just completing their first walk whilst I was just beginning mine. I completed the middle of the ┤W┤.
I managed to get lost in thistles and paniced for a bit. I could have cried as I lost the path back and the thistles where in some parts waist deep. I was catching my trousers and bags on the thistles and stratched my arm and legs. I kept calm and eventually saw two hikers off in the distance and made a dash in that direction. I managed to get disorientated and now couldn┤t remeber what path led me in the right direction. A bird perched in front of me flew in one direction and that was the way I went. I got out my i-pod and calmed myself down and began once more on my way.
The end part of the walk brought me out onto a beach which was very picteresque and quite unexpected. With a stich, with my blistered feet, and my newly aquired stratches I was so thankful to make camp. I stayed in a camp where they had showers (luke warm) but fatastic to have a decent wash. I finally got a glimpse at my back and noticed I had developed a sore from the constant rubbing of my bag which had scabbed over, the pressure of the shower was painful on this area. At this camp there was hot water on the go, so I had an easy dinner where I just poured water onto my noodles and purchased the best can of coke I have ever tasted for a mere 2 pounds 50.
I feel bad now, as I moaned about my feet and back to a nice couple.
But, I didnt let it pass me by that I had had glorious weather all day, seen stunning sceneary, got to camp and managed to throw out rubbish I had been carrying for the past few days, had a shower and a wash and made it to camp to get to the toilets so I didn┤t have to burry my pooh.
Day 5 (Feb. 5th)
I was glad I had continued. I met up with an Isralian guy who I walked back down to the base of Los Torres with. Walking back was quick and easy and a lot of fun. Holding onto rocks and slipping down them. I made it back to camp just gone 9pm having hiked for 10 hours. I felt great.
As I prepared my last supper out side the refugio I was invited to join a group inside the warmth for a glass of red wine. It was a lovely evening. My muscles had adjusted and today was the first time where others asked me, ┤how much further?┤
To which I replied, ┤20 minutes!┤
Day 6 Feb 6th going home!
Puerto Natales-Erratic Rock and cozy bunk bed
I felt like I had made the right deicision in hiking to Los Torres yesterday as it was pretty over cast today. I don┤t think I could have handled an early rise to hike up to Los Torres for the sun rise. The last part of this hike is challenging and one I would rather not do half asleep.
I rose early and began my trek back. I set off in good time as I did no want to miss my connexion bus back to Puerto Natales, that set off at 2.30pm. I finished the last of my oats and began my journey. Mainly all down hill which was fantastic. During this trail I met the most amount of people (mainly those just doing the one day hike to Los Torres) and for the first time was past by horses. One thing I was thankful had not happened up unitl now.
Although it threatended to rain in the moring the day turned out to be really nice. It was my last time of packing up camp ( I achieved a P.B). I made it to hostel Torres by 11.30am where I had the option to wait until 2pm and get a bus to administartions. I decided I wanted to see the whole trail through as I had also started the hike walking up to the ┤WĘ I wanted to hike the whole way out of the park too. By now I was on the road being past my busses. The road seemed to go on and on, as it isn┤t a popular walk I felt quite alone and enjoyed experiencing the scenery and wildlife without passing many others.
I enjoyed the gentle pace and by 12.30pm I started to feel a little concerned that I wouldn┤t make my end destination in time as I had seen no sign of the administration office. At 12pm a car actually stopped and offered me a lift, maybe a sign that I looked ladden down with my load. I politely reclined and finally got in sight of my destination. To my horror I observed the road trailed off up the mountain and curved off into the distance and looked like it went on for miles. I felt I┤d never make it in time and then to my relief I noticed a side path for trekkers verring off to the left cutting of the road route, going diagonally straight to administaration.
During the last leg of my journey I passed by a family of Guanaco
which was really special. I made it to the entrance for 1pm with time to spare. I ate the last of my dried fruitd and chocolate and visited the souverniour shop where I purchased a souvernious can of coke!
I had made it and I felt immensley proud of myself. Returning to Puerto Natales I rewarded my self witht he biggest steak and chip dinner and a big glass of red wine.
Tips for other traveller┤s
Erratic Rock Hostel:
A warm and friendly reception with a great breakfast consisting of homemade bread, cereal and a herbed egg. Extremely helful about hiking options. They also hold a talk everyday at their hostel at 3pm for all to attend, provinding advise and info. on Torres del Paine. During the talk you are provided with a hot drink and have the chance to meet others heading out for similar treks.
Purchase or rent an Nalgene bottle fill it with hot water and put it in the bottom of your sleeping bag before you go to sleep at night. I always have cold feet and really feel the cold, this did wonders and kept me warm through out the night.
Clip your toe nails before heading off!