Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 2: Into Torres del Paine

Today started semi-early, mostly because everybody else in the hostel got up early.  Puerto Natales has a lot of day trips and things to do like whitewater rafting or ziplining in addition to Torres del Paine, so everybody starts pretty early in the hostels.  Plus it's not exactly 5 star accommodations, so sleeping in isn't really a favorable option.  I had a leisurely breakfast with a fellow hostel-mate, a Basque girl named Meri who was just leaving town.  She had nothing but good things to say about Torres de Paine, which only further fueled my desire to get into the park.  After that, I went to the supermarket to load up on food for the trail.

As I made the trip solo, I had to end up carrying the gear which would normally be shared between two people, like cooking equipment and a tent.  Plus, the tent that I bought (from a Swedish guy moving back home) was a 3-person tent, less than ideal for backpacking.  This meant that, in the name of my back, I would forefit the stove and all hot food during my time in TdP.
Trail lunch of champions.

My bus wasn't into TdP until 2:30 PM, so I spent the rest of the morning wandering around Puerto Natales.  The city itself is clearly based upon tourism, every shop was either for outdoor adventures, internet cafes, or hostel.
This is what most of "downtown" looked like.

I also saw this little guy, who looked awfully familiar...

On the edge of town, there's a little bay which separates the city from some magnificent landscapes in the distance.

In case any of you (Dad) were interested in what our latitude was.

Back at the hostel, I grabbed my very full bag and hopped on the bus.  It was a bit of a drive to get out there, but the landscape itself was so interesting that the time seemed to fly by.

Here we stopped so everybody on the bus could take a 10 min break to smoke cigarettes.  In reality, we were probably there for 25 mins.  Chilean time.

These are creatures called guanacos, which are in the same family as llamas.  We saw a decent number of them in the flatlands outside of the park.

Finally at about 4:30 PM, we got into the park.  There were a few guides there to give us pointers and remind us to not start fires, but after that we all hopped into a slightly smaller bus, and took off on the trail.

Map of day 1 on the trail:
The first 1/3 of the blue line was covered by a minibus that bussed a bunch of us in.  I rode in with a couple from Belgium, and Philip, a German superconductor engineer.  He had a really nice digital camera, the first of many I saw which made me realize how inadequate my little brick was in capturing the majesty of this park. 

Officially the last picture taken with fresh clothes and legs.

I got started a little late (about 5 PM), so I had to move quickly if I was to make it to campamento Torres that night.  Supposedly one of the best views of the park is the Mirador los Torres just after sunrise, and I wanted my morning hike the next day to be as quick as possible.  So off I went.

Starting off on the trail - a nice gradual downhill.  The next 2 hours were pure uphill.
 Crossing a little river over a rickety bridge with 25 kilos on my back.  Every bad action movie I've ever seen flashed before my eyes with each step.
 Finally getting over the 2 hour uphill, took a break before walking along the trail.

As you can probably see, my face is significantly redder than in that first picture.  I was also wearing my Michigan Football t-shirt, in hopes of catching some fellow wolverines on the trail.  The second guy I met was from Ohio State.
(This was also the last day I wore any cotton)

Crossing the river again, right before Campamento Chileno.

One of the ravines, cut into the hill over years of melting snow and earthquakes.

Through the park, you could see the treeline fighting to climb each mountain.  Some were easier for mother nature to scale than others.

Finally arrived at about 9:45 PM.

Note the jeans hanging on top of the tent.  They were soon to be buried deep in my bag.  I was exhausted by the end of the day, but still in awe of the surrounding landscape.  

As I was sitting outside my tent eating a tuna fish dinner, a little red fox scampered through the campsite.  Nobody else noticed, but he came about 15 feet away from me and froze.  We stared each other down for a couple seconds, then he darted off into the woods.  A nice little bow on top of the first day in the park.


  1. Erik we are desperate for more posts about your vacation. Whats going on? Your Minnesota visitos,

    Mary, Claire & Clint