Continuing my trend (2’s a trend right?) of somewhat consistent posting, here’s the culmination of my trek through the Torres del Paine National Park!
As I alluded in my last post, I’d made the commitment to wake up early and catch sunrise at the Torres – I’d been promised that the views were worth it…providing there was no cloud cover. Sunrise was slated for ~6:30, so I left at 5am with my daypack, flashlight, and a prayer for clear skies, to tackle the final rock scramble upwards. Luckily I had stayed the night at Campamento Torres, which meant an hour less of hiking than the poor souls at Italiano – I heard some people there began their trek at 3:30am, bless their hearts.
The scramble itself wasn’t difficult – the orange markers were difficult to discern towards the end among the glacial moraine, and I ended up veering off course and having to literally climb my way back onto the path. Past that wrinkle, I managed to quickly find my hiding spot from the previous data and was rewarded with this view:
Stunning right? My iPhone doesn’t do it justice – my eyes that had completely acclimated to the dark could make out the Torres quite clearly. You can even see a star – it’s not a dust smudge, I swear! – it wasn’t the only star visible, but it was brilliant enough to light up landscape as well.
For those that are making this trek, I recommend finding a spot that is high up along the rocks, and on the edge – that way you can see the sun peek over the valley, and then its gleam reflected on the Torres. I was lucky in having a rosy sunrise, which tinted both the Torres and the scattered clouds, which eventually (over an hour) turned into a more golden hue. Pictures of the progression below:
People continuously trickled in over the 3hrs I waited there, watching the sunrise over the Torres, although most stayed close to the trail-end rather than climbing onto a higher perch. More clouds began to loom over the Torres, my food ran out, and I needed no further indication that it was closing time for my adventure.
Heading down from Campamento Torres, down to Italiano, and finally to Hotel Las Torres, the route was scenic if well-trod. These trails are more heavily frequented by traffic to-and-from the Torres, and even have dedicated horse paths. The path is primarily downhill, with some hills just because that’s Patagonia, but with your eyes forward you can see miles around outside of the circuit, and Lago Nordernskjöld, which kept me company all of day 6 🙂
At the Hotel Las Torres I enjoyed a brief respite, complete with a celebratory ice cream! and decided to hike all the way back to the park entrance, rather than pay for a minibus, just so I could say I had done the entirety of a circuit. Here I felt somewhat hurried, as I knew that I had to catch the bus out of the park at 13:00. Word to the wise: that last leg feels longer than 7.5km, and takes longer than an hour (more like 2). It was worth it to me for the satisfaction more than any view, and I was glad as all hell when I got to the park entrance. With about an hour to spare, I gave my feet a well-deserved rinse, sweet-talked my way to a souvenir map, and closed the circuit on my “O” trek of the Torres del Paine.
I’ll leave it at this for now: this hike was easily the best I’ve undertaken in my life, rewarding visually, physically, mentally, and presented some of the most spectacular experiences with nature I could’ve imagined. The only regret I have is not being a better photographer, as there is no way I could have possibly captured just how picturesque, how breathtaking, how stunning it was to be hiking through the park. Hopefully what I have will suffice though 😉
That’s it for my journey through the park. My next stop in Chile was Puerto Montt, a coastal city with beautiful- well, you’ll just have to see, won’t you?