18 May 2014

Hike hike hike - Torres Del Paine

Going to Antarctica meant that I had to go through Chile. On the way down there was no time for anything except for getting crucial paper work done, issued uniform, and flown south. On the way home on the other hand there was a 10 day slot where I could do something before needing to be in Australia so I was tossing up whether to head up to Pucon to do some kayaking or to visit this national park called Torres Del Paine which I'd never heard of before heading to Chile, but once there no one would stop talking about it. Not being a huge fan of bus rides nor being able to say anything in Spanish I opted to go hiking in Torres which was much closer and there was a 7 day hike that fit perfectly into the available time slot. I was all excited about seeing a Puma… 

 We came over the Young John Gardner Pass to see this huge sucker of a glaciar (spanicho for glacier) called Glaciar Grey. Rather than looking into a river valley with streams acting as tributaries this was just one massive glacier with little steeper glaciers flowing in.

Safety was paramount! There were a couple of these deep, steep, and rickety ladder things that were set up but this one was my favorite. Everything had been eroded away but these ladders still existed so they just tied them with rope and number 8 wire to things like this fallen tree. She'll be right eh.. and she was!

 This is a really old volcanic area so the rock formations are really beautiful. This view came and went really quickly as we went down and crossed one of the little streams because as you can see the valley walls are pretty steep and narrow. 

 This place is notorious for being windy, rainy, cold, and when you put those factors together it quite often means miserable to. Luckily for us it was the opposite. Dry, hot, calm weather meant that it was rude to not have a wash or just splash your face in every stream as you crossed it. As you can see from the color of Lago (lake) Norjisrdke full of sediment, it's fed by water that was locked up in ice so these streams were extremely refreshing.

 This is one of my favorites, and we got to walk and marvel at this for a few hours which took your mind off the sore legs and whatever else that began niggling after 5 days of hiking. That is super dark granite on top of super light granite and the result is pretty damn cool looking.

And these are the famous towers… Not quite worth waking at 4am, hassling my travel partner to get the fuck up, and the 3 hour walk up to see them in the light of a sunrise. It would have been if it was a little clearer though. So we got up there, waited, hoped that the cloud would magically lift to produce amazingness. This time we were not so lucky. Still pretty cool though, and we did see the tops of them already from the other side. 

In the 7days that we took to circumnavigate this massif, we covered about 120+ Km and got rained on for one morning only, I extended my spanicho (even if I did get mocked every time I tried a new word),   saw heaps of cool glaciers, mountains, streams and lakes, made some friends, and I even made it back to Punta Arenas to catch my flights back to Australia. So huge success all made possible by the host from work. Pretty lucky really!

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