From Ushuaia, I head up North to Puerto Natales, in Chile. The town in itself has not much to offer, but it’s the jumping off point to Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It’s supposed to be one of the most pristine and remote places on earth with some of the world’s most amazing trekking!
………The most highly trekked route in Torres del Paine National Park is called the “W”. It takes five to seven days, with five to eight hours of hiking per day!
The “W” name comes from the trail that basically is the shape of the letter W. You walk up and down out of 3 mountain valleys. And, you end up the trek with an amazing view on the “Torres del Paine” (the towers). This trek is considered as a lifetime experience!
On the bus to Puerto Natales, Michael and I, met 2 french girls (South of France), Dorothée and Cécile. After settling in our hostel, the four of us went to the “Erratic Rock Bar”, where an information session about the famous “W” trek was given everyday at 3pm.
They cover transportation in and out of the park, what to pack in terms of food and gear, weather conditions and finally, trails. No need to pack bottles of water as you can drink straight from the streams and falls! They also rent tents, sleeping bags/mats and camping stoves.
The bus into the park was 2.5 hours, and dropped us off at a catamaran that takes you to the start of the “W”. The first hike was to Lago Grey; a 11 km/5.5 hours uphill hike to see the beautiful Glacier Grey. As we began to climb with our heavy backpacks on our shoulders, we faced all kinds of weather: sun, clouds, wind, snow, blizzard, rain. The weather seemed to change constantly, in a matter of minutes!
…….And then, the unthinkable happened! I twisted my right ankle when I slipped on a rock… I heard the distinct crunching/cracking sound, and immediately after, the pain kicked in hard.
………………….At that moment, if I were alone, I would probably have started screaming and crying! But instead, I swallowed my saliva, took a deep breath, and washed away my teary eyes! After a couple of minutes, I regain composure and was able to walk on the tip of my toe. I had no choice but to continue, as we were in the middle of nowhere, and it was about to get dark. With the help of Dorothée, we continued up and up until we reached the campsite, Las Guardas. [sight of relief and exhaustion].
That night I didn’t sleep much because I was in pain and freezing cold! Sleeping in a tent when it’s -7°C outside… bad idea!! I woke up feeling sore from sleeping on the hard ground, and my whole body was aching! Not to mention my ankle, which was killing me!!
…………………………………………………….But I am happy I got the chance to see the famous Grey glacier before heading back down from where we had come! From our campsite, Las Guardas, there was a viewpoint on the bright blue glacier that flows into the water. You could see also many small icebergs on the lago Grey that looked like neon islands. So beautiful!
So, my trek was shorter than planned, I did a “i” trek instead of a “w” trek. Moreover, I was now injured and in constant pain!
I guess they don’t call it Torres del PAINe for nothing!