April 17, 2017

Chile | Torres Del Paine National Park

Legendary Torres Del Paine National Park is a place unlike any other.  Its remoteness and pristine raw beauty are reason enough for so many people to make the long journey here.  When we first started planning this trip, naturally this was one of the first destinations we researched.  The question was, would we do the famous W Hike or something different?  Because we ended up planning a long journey through Chile & Argentina, we opted not to do the W Hike.  Instead, we would spend two nights in campsites and see as much as we could.  Before we actually got into the park, we joined a full day tour of the park out of Puerto Natales.  This gave us a chance to see a couple places that we would not see during our stay in the park.  Unfortunately, it rained most of that day, but we were fortunate enough to venture across the park and see Glacier Grey in the distance from a huge beach.

Inside the park on our first day, we may have been the only people from our bus that were not doing the W Trek.  As we watched people carrying huge packs, we carried just our day packs with some extra clothes for our 2 night stay.  We hiked out to the Mirador Lago Nordenskjold which was spectacular and the weather could not have been any better.  We bussed back to the Laguna Amarga station, then another shuttle to the Torre Central campsite for our first night, with the Torres in sight.  After an awesome refugio meal, we settle into our tents and slept through a howling wind.  The next morning we started our trek towards Refugio Chileno.  At first the weather was good, but after we started our ascent, it would not stop raining for 30 straight hours.  As we slogged into Chileno, we dropped our packs and continued up to the Torres with only snacks and my camera.  At this point, our waterproof clothes were saturated and we knew we would not see the Torres.  It seemed to take forever to get up to the famous viewing point and when we finally arrived, the freezing rain and wind drove us down after only 20 minutes.  It was another few hours back into Chileno and the rain did not let up.  Everyone crowded into the tiny refugio with its wood burning stove.  Luckily the beer was very cold and was well deserved!  Our tent that night was on a platform built into a steep hillside which made it extremely difficult to actually reach it.  It didn't make any difference if you fell down...we were soaked and muddy already.

Cold and damp is how we woke up on our last day in the park.  The rain was still coming down.  Eager to get away from it, we hurriedly ate breakfast in the refugio (all meals in the refugios, including the packed lunches were great!) and started the descent back to Torre Central.  Finally, we escaped the rain and it was such a relief.  We were able to dry ourselves out for a few hours before the last bus to Puerto Natales.  These 2 days in the park were quite unforgettable.  Despite the horrendous weather on day 2, the park was beautiful.  And despite the fact we did not see the famous Torres, we saw plenty of jaw dropping scenery.



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