Hiking, Camping and Snow -- Oh My!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 03, 2009

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Flag of Chile  , Patagonia,
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hiking x Camping + Snow + Sun + Wind = Torres del Paine National Park!

Well, first we had a 5 hour bus ride from El Calafate in Argentina, across the border to Puerto Natales, Chile. The border crossing was fine. The night in Puerto Natales was just for food, sleep and stocking up on supplies for our three days camping in Torres del Paine National Park. We made sure we had clothes and gear for weather that could be sunny, snowing, and definitely windy. Glad we did.

What an amazing three days! The first day we drove into the park and on the way saw some local wildlife - guanacos (looks like a llama), rheas (looks like an emu), condors, eagles and ibis. Then we took a boat ride across a lake to our campsite for the night. We dumped our stuff and took off on our first hike, a cool 6 hour hike up to the French campsite between the Towers. The weather was amazing, the sun was out and we got quite warm walking, and there were no clouds so the view was spectacular. We took LOTS of pictures. The hike was great and it ended with a lovely dinner in our campsite which we definitely deserved!

We slept overnight in our tents which were tied down tightly as the wind was very strong. It also happened to snow that night... not just a little bit, but a couple of inches! So we woke up to the sound of snow falling from the top of our tent!

We had breakfast and decided to do our scheduled hike up the mountain to see the Grey Glacier anyway and packed on more layers and pushed through the falling snow up the side of the mountain. It was very beautiful to walk up the mountain in the snow and it wasn´t too cold, so that was nice. By the time we walked the 2.5 hours to the lookout the snow had stopped falling and we had a clear view of the Glacier to take some pictures and make little snowmen before we headed back. The walk back was slightly longer and definitely wetter as we trudged through the quickly melting snow. I found out my boots are NOT waterproof! But we had the afternoon to sit by the fire and dry our stuff before we headed back on the ferry to the otherside of the park and our next campsite.

After we settled into our new campsite (private campsite just for us!) we had a lovely dinner prepared and played cards before another night in our tents with HUGE gusts of wind all night. I was hoping that our campsite manager had knocked the tent pegs in all the way or we would have blown away!

The next day we drove further into the park and started the longest and hardest hike up the side of the mountains for a view from inside the Towers. It was mostly uphill with some rocky sections, some gravelly sections and some sections inside a forest. It was windy the whole way, but the sun was out most of the time. We filled our water bottles with water from the glacier streams (tasted SO good!) and took lots of pictures on the way up. The last hour was the hardest, up loose rocks and sand that was very exhausting but when we reached the top the view was worth it! The clouds cleared and the sun came out and we had a perfect view of the North and South Towers and the Torres mountain... it was fantastic!

The way down was much quicker, although it was painful on the knees! We had a good time though!

Late that afternoon we packed our tired selves into the car back to our hotel in Puerto Natales for a hot shower and a warm bed...

Tomorrow its off to Punta Arenas to hang out with some penguins...
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