An entirely unplanned break from writing turned into nearly a yearlong hiatus – my bad. It’s not even that I had a pressing reason for the past 10 months, it just turns out writing takes significantly more effort than I anticipated. But perhaps more on that in another post- for now, onwards.
Day 6: Los Cuernos – Campamento Torres (est. 20km)
Summit day! It was my last full day of hiking, culminating in an hour-long rock scramble to a vantage point of the namesake of the park, the Torres del Paine. I passed a restless night, as the winds had picked up dramatically, to the point where I was legitimately concerned that my shoddy tent-pitching (phrasing, I know) skills might lead to a disaster. Luckily Marmot’s Limelight tent was beginner-proof enough for me and the winds of Patagonia. After sleeping in, and a luxurious hot breakfast, I proceeded on to a day that I knew would be mainly uphill. The first leg of the hike to Campamento Chileno was through the familiar amber hills, gravel paths, and lakeside views that are a staple of the “W”. The scenery, coupled with a gloriously sunny day, made the extensive azure sky that much more striking, and I even had my second (questionably) wild animal spotting on the way of a team (?) of horses. The Torres loomed to my left the entire time as I worked my way up and down the hills, which took its toll on my knees – luckily I had the fortune of making a friend on the way! Mia is from Germany, but had flown over to explore the End of the World (Ushuaia in Argentina), loop up to the Torres, and then to Argentina for the Iguazu Falls. We happened to hike at the same pace, and after a few times passing each other on the narrow path, we struck up a conversation, shared food and water, and took some great photos on the way to the Campamento – hiking is that much better with a buddy!
After 4-5 hours of hiking all told, I made it to the valley of Campamento Chileno As you can see here, it is nestled in a valley, tucked under the glaciers, and well watered by glacial melt.
A combination of the sunny weather, crisp running water, and general accumulation of exhaustion made Chileno the perfect place for an extended rest, and I must have laid on a rock and enjoyed the sun for hours. Finally, rested and fed, I made the hour hike upwards to Campamento Torres, which I had the good fortune of booking when I first made it to the park. As it was still somewhat early in the day, I made the 45min scramble up to the Torres, to catch them in their daytime glory and to see how difficult the path would be in the morning with no light (not difficult at all). Behold, the Torres (and me being an unabashed tourist):
After scouting out a perch for me to capture the sunrise at the Torres, I rushed back to the campsite and got ready for my last early morning in the park (4:30am!!) and some hard-earned rest at the tail end of my trek.