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.
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.
On the edge of town, there's a little bay which separates the city from some magnificent landscapes in the distance.
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.
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.
(This was also the last day I wore any cotton)
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.