, ,

I realize that my decision to venture off to Chile was a bit impromptu but I couldn’t resist the urge to get up and leave. I had heard so many great things about this place. I thought the notion of experiencing 4 seasons in one day was a bit ludicrous but those who told the tales were not exaggerating one bit.

After getting through the immigration bit at the border and settling the park entrance fees we were off. I started the first day with a semi organized tour. Since Torres del Paine is several hours away from the nearest city you have to organize transportation with some company or other. no public transport at this point. We left behind the only remnants of civilizations (the town of Cerro Castillo with a population of 200 people)

We started off the day on a good note with chilly weather but rather sunny. That quickly changed, as did the wind. The trek started near Lago Amargo (bitter lake), appropriately named as it contains 3 times more salt than sea water. It is all that remains from one of the glaciers that existed there several million years ago. Unfortunately it is expected to dry out within the next 1o years or so. From there the trek lead us to the middle of the park to the Lago Pehoé. Spent the night at a refugio near Lago Pehoé and continued the next morning to the mirador near the Glacier Grey. Because of heavy rain during the first day of trekking I didn’t get to take as many pictures. Mainly because the view of the Torres and the glaciers were obstructed by fog. I was beginning to realize that it was my bad luck as the same thing happened during my trek back in El Chaltén.

[gigya type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” src=”https://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/picasaweb.googleusercontent.com/slideshow.swf” width=”500″ height=”300″ flashvars=”host=picasaweb.google.com&hl=en_US&feat=flashalbum&RGB=0x000000&feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2F107129263791403689175%2Falbumid%2F5170185004049275121%3Fkind%3Dphoto%26alt%3Drss%26authkey%3DGv1sRgCJyUyoz26oqdCQ” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer”%5D

On the first day while still on the transport we stopped near the waterfalls that empty out into the Lake. It was spectacular but the wind was as vicious as ever. the guide estimated it at about 150 km/hr. It was ridiculous. It was the first time in my life I saw a grown man lifted off the ground and literally tossed a few meters away. The trick to stay in control was to walk in groups and when gusts of wind blew with rocks flinging in every direction was to turn your back to the wind huddle in groups and stay connected. Naturally it took some time to work our way up to the outlook point as we had to continually stop and huddle to protect ourselves from the wind. Despite the frightening experience I definitely know that I want to return someday to complete the entire “W” circuit.

The next day I went a stopping point near Lago Pehoé to catch transport out of the Park and to the Argentinian border where I was able to switch buses and get back to El Calafate at 1am the following day. This by far has been my most unforgettable experience probably because it was the most challenging. I met some really great people along the way. In such conditions you really end up bonding with those you meet along the trails.

I am definitely glad I got the chance to go even if for 2 days but it really is difficult to think about what I left behind. It feels so unjust not to have continued but again I really hope I get the chance to come back and complete the circuit and spend more time in the region.