Torres del Paine - Day 3, The French Valley

Trip Start Mar 29, 2010
Trip End May 24, 2010

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Flag of Chile  , Patagonia,
Saturday, April 10, 2010

I knew Monique was tough, but I had no idea she was Willis Reed tough. When we woke up on the third day of our trek, I was pretty sore but Monique couldn't put any weight on her left foot.   As she hobbled through the refugio, I figured we would need to take the day off for her to recuperate.   But Monique would have none of it.  After breakfast she declared she was healthy enough to hike and off we went to the French Valley.

To get to the French Valley, we backtracked two hours to Campamento Italiano.  With fresh legs, we scampered across the same stones that gave us so much trouble the night before and arrived at the beginning of the trailhead a little after 11 AM.

The French Valley is a steep hike that comprises the middle point in the "W" trek, famous for its 360 degree panoramic views of Los Cuernos, the French Glacier and Lago Nordenskjold.     From Campo Italiano, the hike to Campamento Britanico covers 5.5 kilometers one way – mostly uphill. 

After scrambling over number of large boulders in a rock field opposite the French Glacier, the trail entered into a covered stretch of forest.  Because of the higher altitude and the season (it’s fall down here), the trees displayed a variety of autumnal colors – reds, yellows, and oranges.  It was beautiful.

We reached the first look-out point after about an hour and half, and stopped for a boxed lunch. The first video in the post provides a panoramic view of what we saw. 

Though the afternoon was getting late, we decided to push through to the second lookout on the French Valley trail – Campamento Britanico.   The path continued upwards through another stretch of lenga forest, only with brighter fall foliage.  Though scenic, I was tired, a bit anxious about the time of day, and frustrated we had yet to reach the second lookout. 

In a fit of frustration, I exclaimed “This f---ing hike is overrated.”  Monique humored me by smiling politely, and shortly thereafter, we arrived at the second lookout, where I took the second video in this post (see below).   Needless to say, I ate my words – hardly the first time, and it will be far from the last.

At 2:30, we decided to head back towards Refugio Los Cuernos.  Since the trail to the French Valley was predominantly uphill, we made the descent in two hours and found ourselves back at the refugio around 6:30.  In all, we covered 22 kilometers.   Monique was hobbling again, but the foot held up well.  

We were now more than halfway through the “W,” and while the toughest hike was yet to come, we were relieved to have an easy day ahead of us on Day 4.
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Margarita Butler on

Awesome trip, blog and pics! Am enjoying it with you.

Patagoniapaul on

very nicely written and full of useful information. Thanks!

olga on

this is great! thanks so much for sharing. continue having a great adventure!!!!!!!

Melodi on

I feel like I am on the hike. Love the photos (and the victory signs!).

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