18.02.2011 15 °C
The entire refugio was almost vacated. No more sounds of rustling bags or people walking in and out. I was pretty much one of the last few to leave that morning. I had a speedy breakfast of leftover tuna and bread and bolted off. It was 1100hrs when I left the refugio. I was worried I would not be able to make it back in time before dark because the hike today would be a long hike uphill and back down again. I would have to hike for 5 hours to the lookout to take some pictures and another 5 hours back to camp. Fortunately, the hike today promised to be less gruelling without the added 20kg backpack behind me.
The hike today proved to be more interesting as well. From the get go, the weather was already proving to make my day a challenge with strong winds blowing in from the west. Sea spray peppered the trail as I walked by the lake with the winds blowing me off balance more than once. I walked along the lake while being buffeted by the gale storm, then hiked through foliage in the jungle as I went deeper into the mountain pass. Then I had to hike up loose rocks that were quite treacherous because one loose stone would have dislodged the whole side you would be climbing on. The views and surroundings were amazing; as I walked pass the different faces of the mountain. I felt like the mountain was alive as each time I looked at it, something seemed to change and happen, from the distant rumbling of an avalanche to the clouds that kept hovering and changing above it, the raging streams and waterfalls that flowed down the side to the glaciers on the skirt of the mountain, every aspect of the mountain was living.
The trail brought me close to the side of one of the bigger mountains, Cero Paine Grande. At the bottom were the glaciers and the raging rivers splitting the valley into two. I finally reached the lookout after a steep climb up by the side of a waterfall. I don’t even know if that was the proper trail but it was a fun climb. The lookout did not disappoint, but the clouds around Paine Grande prevented me from taking any good photos of the peak. The lookout was sandwiched in between Paine Grande to the left and the peaks Cerro Norte, Mascara, Hoja and Espada. The peaks were what I was walking beside yesterday while hiking to the campsite. It was quite majestic looking upwards at it from a close distance.
On the way up I met a guy named Clayton from Colorado. He was a professional climber and told me many interesting facts about mountains and stones. He was the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to mess with as he climbs up mountains with his bare hands and even sleeps on the side of the mountain! It was not entirely a free style of climbing with no safety but it wasn’t Aid Climbing which they use steps to move around, he explained. He mostly just uses his own strength to climb the mountain and told me he wanted to climb one of the Cerro’s which basically were the tower type of mountains which were a vertical climb.
After bidding Clayton goodbye at the campsite I continued my hike back to my camp. The hike back was surprisingly quick as it was mostly downhill. It was good as the sun was still quite high in the sky. I made it back to camp and had the usual tuna and bread for dinner. I am honestly not planning to eat any more tuna for awhile after this. It was then I realized I had run out of rations for the trip as the customs into Chile confiscated my bananas and some other food I brought in. It was torture just smelling the aroma of food being cooked wafting in the air by some of the campers and inside the refugio where people were eating the hostel food. The thought of a warm meal made me think of home and of my family and friends. I ended the night with a little taste of home with an instant Old Town White coffee.