Torres del Paine
17.02.2011 27 °C
I groped around in the dark trying to make sure I had sorted everything out and packed all my stuff. It was 0500hrs and I had about 3 hours sleep that night. The bus ride to Torres del Paine took about 7 hours. I managed to make up for lost sleep time on the bus. I finally crossed the border into Chile. The bus ride took us through empty plains and flatlands that belonged in a Western movie. Patagonia was pretty much a desert.
The tour guide into the park was giving us some information on the types of wildlife that you would expect in the park. Guanacos, emus and condors were just some of them I could remember. Guanacos are what they call the llamas there. We stopped at a couple of spots to take some pictures of the mountain and the three peaks. I finally arrived at my drop off point at Laguna Armaga and bid the rest of the group farewell as they continued on with the tour. I picked up my backpack and started my first hike to the first checkpoint at Hotel Las Torres and then to my checkpoint at Las Cuernos. The entire journey was estimated to be about 6 hours. Not the nicest thought when you have to carry with you a 20kg backpack going uphill and through streams.
The journey brought me through hills and flatlands for the most part. Horses could be seen grazing in the distance and if you were lucky, maybe you would spot a condor flying overhead. The hike gradually got steeper and I found it more difficult to keep my balance as I hiked over lose rock and sandy ground. The view was not as amazing as I expected but I still marvelled at the massive lake to my left and the towering mountains to my right. Being excited on the first day of the trek, I literally took pictures of everything till I realized, they were all the same face of the mountain and the same lake! The trail took me across raging rivers and small streams which was pretty cool as I had to cross these obstacles with my huge pack. I was very impressed with how well my shoes held up against nature. I really love my waterproof shoes.
I finally arrived at Refugio Los Cuernos at 2030hrs. The sun only sets at 2200, so it was still very bright when I arrived. What a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I finally set my backpack down on the floor. The campsite was tucked away nicely in a small valley between the mountain. I stayed at the refugio which was basically a hostel at the campsite. The camp was full of people setting up camp or lining up to use the bath or inside the cabin grabbing a bite or just hanging out with friends. I walked down to the lake and opened my can of tuna with my blunt can opener from my Swiss knife and had my dinner watching the sunset by the lake overlooking the Andes in the distance.