Round the world in 90 days!

Travel time: December 2006 - March 2007  |  by Carolina Martinez

Patagonia: Torres del Paine and the W Trek

Not everyone in the fab 5 thought they would enjoy treking for 5 days so it was just Julius, Curly and I. Though I was the only one who had never been treking before, none of us really had much of an idea of what we were up against.

PRE W TREK
We went to the seminar held by the trusty guys at Erratic Rock (the hostel we were staying at) and tried to absorb as much as we could. Talking to some of the people at the hostel who had just finished the trek, we learnt that they had to crawl some parts of the trail as those infamous Patagonian winds were so severe they could not hold their bodies up against it. This was quite encouraging.

My body decided to remind me I was a woman the day before we set off - impeccable timing as always! This did not help me or anyone else with running all over town with slight hang-overs trying to hire stuff and buy food supplies. The one-stop shop is still to hit Puerto Natales and I think we actaully walked into about 5 supermarkets before we had everything. By the time we finished packing it was about 1.30am and nobody was feeling too confident about the week ahead of us.

DAY 1
We had to catch the bus to the park at 7am sharp. The ride was about 3.5 hours and we got to see lots of cool animals along the way. Following the advice from Erratic Rock, we decided to do the trek from West to East. This meant that once we arrived at the park, we had to take a ferry across the beautiful Lake Pehoe. By the time we got to the other side and had a bite to eat, it was about 1.30pm and we had a 3.5 - 4 hour walk ahead of us.

As an unfortunate side-effect of listening to QUEEN over and over again, I found I had DON´T STOP ME NOW playing on a permanent loop in my head. Particularly the lines ¨Don´t stop me now, because I´m having a good time, having a good time . . .¨ Really inappropriate when you really aren´t having a very good time at all. This played in my head for the full 5 days.

Before getting on the ferry . . .

Before getting on the ferry . . .

such unfounded enthusiasm!

such unfounded enthusiasm!

View from the ferry

View from the ferry

We were all a little cockier on our first day

We were all a little cockier on our first day

The first day had us walking through fields and forests, up and down hills. Fortunately the park rewards you regularly for your pains, so it wasn´t long before we found ourselves admiring the beautiful Lago Grey which is fed by Glaciar Grey and big chunks of glaciar ice floating past.

Glaciar ice in Lago Grey

Glaciar ice in Lago Grey

The very impressive Glaciar Grey

The very impressive Glaciar Grey

Having a break

Having a break

The campsite we stayed at was right next to the Lake. Our pasta was cooked with glaciar water that night.

Curly next to our tent.

Curly next to our tent.

DAY 2

The most depressing thing about the W trek is back-tracking. Day 2 had us walking 3.5 hours back the way we had come to have lunch in the same spot as day 1 before walking another 2 hours or so up to our next stop: Campo Italiano in the Valle Frances.

On route

On route

Views of Lake Pehoe

Views of Lake Pehoe

One of the most unexpected pleasures of the trek were the people we met along the way. At Campo Italiano we found a little shelter made of leaves and sticks that we all huddled into (it was quite a cold night) to cook our food. There were some interesting meals being cooked not the least of which was camp flan (involves using powdered milk and some imagination) and camp cheescake (I´m still unsure how this one worked but tasted ok).

Swapping stories and food

Swapping stories and food

Julius in our door-way

Julius in our door-way

DAY 3

We had been looking forward to this day as it was a pack-free walk. YAY! We left our campsite as is and headed up the Valley for some views which is around 2.5/3 hours there and the same back. Thank god we didn´t have our packs as there were a lot of boulders and a couple of tricky bits.

It is quite a spectacular walk with a glaciar-clad mountain on one side and a view of the famed mountain range on the other and beautiful view of the park below. Apparently the glaciar in the mountain causes avalanches quite regularly. It was a bit misty while we were up there so we didn´t get to see it but we heard the ´thunder´which is almost as cool.

Glaciars . . .

Glaciars . . .

glaciars . . .

glaciars . . .

glaciars everywhere!

glaciars everywhere!

Los Cuernos and the Los Torres

Los Cuernos and the Los Torres

So after our 6 hour round-trip, we thought it would be wise to break-camp and head to the next camp site of Los Cuernos which was about 2 hours away in order to make up some ground and not make our 4th day so long. Silly, silly children.

The walk itself was nice enough but as we approached the lake, those winds started a-blowing. By the time we reached the campsite, they were at full-strength and it became impossible to pitch our tent. We tried at 2 different sites but the tent was just ripped right out of the ground. At one point, Julius was actually holding the tent above his head trying to stop it from blowing away. By about 9.10 pm the situation was dire, we tried to find the guy in charge of the campsite to see if there was somewhere with a bit more shelter. There was nothing. We were in big trouble. Eventually (I think out of pity and perhaps the tears welling up in my eyes), the guy lead us to a 2-man tent pitched on a rather rocky ground that was owned by the refugio. He said we could either sleep in that or he could pull it down and we could pitch our own. At 9.30pm after approx 8 hours of walking, the choice was quite obvious. It definitely wasn´t our best night.

Walking alongside the lake (notice the wind whipping that water around)

Walking alongside the lake (notice the wind whipping that water around)

The saving grace for the campsite of Los Cuernos was the amazing setting. Just before we went to bed, we looked up at the billions and billions of stars in the sky with the silhouette of Los Cuernos´peaks right above us. It (kinda) made everything worth it.

Los Cuernos as seen from our campsite.

Los Cuernos as seen from our campsite.

DAY 4

So as you can imagine, we were pretty over everything by this day. Just heading straight for the bus out of there didn´t seem such a bad idea, but we soldiered on. Next stop was Camp Chileno which was about a 5 hour walk (took us about 6 with stops). This actually turned out to be my favourite day as we got onto a trail where we didn´t see a single soul for hours which was pretty rare in Torres Del Paine.

Pretty flowers along the way

Pretty flowers along the way

On the trail we had to ourselves and lovely views of the park.

On the trail we had to ourselves and lovely views of the park.

Having a break

Having a break

Heading into the very impressive Valley where Camp Chileno is

Heading into the very impressive Valley where Camp Chileno is

By the time we got to Camp Chileno, we had run out of dinners and as it was our last night in the park, we thought we would reward ourselves with a meal from the refugio. Wasn´t the most amazing meal I had ever eaten but it tasted like it was at the time.

As said before, we met some really great people along the way. Hanging out at the campsite after a long walk and having a laugh with people from all over the world was such a fantastic experience. We met a Chilean/Polish couple called Andres and Magda who had tried to help us with our tent troubles (which was very lovely considering they had their own tent woes) in Los Cuernos and met with them again in Chileno. They were great value.

Andres, ¨that french guy¨ and Magda around the camp kitchen.

Andres, ¨that french guy¨ and Magda around the camp kitchen.

DAY 5

Mission: to climb up to the Torres Del Paine - the Granite towers that are about 2000m high - the jewel in the crown of the park. Some people actually walk up there at ridiculously early times while it is still dark so that they can see the sun-rise over them which is supposed to be spectacular. 7am start was early enough for us. It took about 2 hours (almost constantly up-hill and a big part over boulders) to get up there and 2 hours to get back to camp. This was another one we did without our packs (thank god).

The back of the Torres at sunrise

The back of the Torres at sunrise

There they are . . .

There they are . . .

and here we are . . .

and here we are . . .

We can even look sexy at 9 am after a two hour walk up hill.  Amazing!

We can even look sexy at 9 am after a two hour walk up hill. Amazing!

Oh shit, now we have to go back down?

Oh shit, now we have to go back down?

We got back to Chileno with a bit of a spring in our steps. We had (almost) done it! All we needed to do was pack up our tent for the last time and head down that hill 2 hours to the bus. It didn´t take us long to realise that 2 hours is still along time on sore legs going almost constantly downhill.

Saying goodbye to Magda and Andres at Chileno

Saying goodbye to Magda and Andres at Chileno

Down the bottom again.

Down the bottom again.

last snap of the park

last snap of the park

Finally we got back on that bus and headed back to Puerto Natales where we ate a big plate of meat, drank red wine, at dessert and slept on a bed.

You are here : Overview The Americas Chile Torres del Paine and the W Trek
The trip
 
Description:
Julius and Carolina's dash around the globe. Let's see who will cross the finish line first . . .
Details:
Start of journey: Dec 10, 2006
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Mar 07, 2007
Travelled countries: Thailand
Denmark
Spain
Chile
Argentina
Brazil
Uruguay
The Author
 
Carolina Martinez is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 14 years.
Picture of author