Missed the Boat

Literally. Part of this 5Day/4Night trek involved taking The Catamaran to the furthest point in the trail and then hiking back to home base. The two synced (or so we thought) buses were supposed to take us to the second, and final, catamaran for the day... except that as we pulled into the lot, we saw the boat push away. No comment came from the bus driver. Clearly, the other companies had made it pre-launch. We did not. Now what? Deviate from the standard 'W' trek. First day's trek which started at 7:30pm involved a 7km hike that looked like this:

Ok, so this part was faux-hiking. Eyes closed, hair a mess, but stunning scenery.

Not too shabby for going completely off the beaten path. The entire path graced us with the view of the whole Torres del Paine park, a site that you certainly can't see whilst hiking in the park.

Day #1 total: 7km vs. 18km (expected)

And the next morning from the campsite started off like this:
I prefer this to looking across the avenue into another apartment building.

After soaking up the stunning scenery, we hauled butt the 7km back to the catamaran take off point. Normally, this is where one's day begins in terms of the hike and you choose to just hike 11km to camp and decide to take an extra, steeper trail 8km round trip to see Glacier Grey in the same day. The ambitious include said glacier. Which category do you think I fit into? The latter. Glacier hike:


Glacier Grey

Day #2 total: 26km vs. 18km (expected) eeek.

Day #3: The permutations of how to approach the trek because of boat snafu on day #1 now add up to 8 or 9. To cram in as much of the park as possible without tacking on an extra day was part of the challenge. Camping only 11km away from previous night's campsite seemed like a splendid idea, while attempting at "as much as possible" of a 30km round trip. Apparently the reward of the round trip was only at the very top of the steepest part of the hike, the French Valley. Unfortunately, given the initial 11km, we were only able to cover 26 or so more km. Beautiful hike with no reward.


Day #3 total: 37km vs. 20km (expected) ... uhm, seriously, wtf?

Camping this evening was super interesting as it involved putting in my ear plugs and eye mask. Why? THE WIND WAS RIDICULOUS. Not including a jerk that ran into my tent and ripped off one of the holding ropes, the wind at Acampar Paine Grande (no kidding) accounted for 2 other tears in my brand new and otherwise unhurt tent.
Home for five days. Who can spot the free advertisement?

Not that I haven't been super excited during this whole trek, because, aside from a little drizzle, tornado-strength winds, and diverging from the W-trek, the weather has been spectacularly clear, the 60lb pack has only slowed & slimmed me down, and I have no serious injuries. However, this day I'm uber excited because it was the only day that I managed to book a shelter on the trip -- a little indulgence.

After a boat, another bus and 15km, I reached camp in record time and looked for the lodge that was supposed to be associated with it. Yes, supposed to. The lodge was actually 15km away... where I'd started the day's trek. Epic fail. The coldest of all the campsites, I decided to just go straight into angrily pitching my tent very early in the evening on the slanted campground. What was for dinner? Razor clams (so delicious) on crackers with a dessert of Twix. At this point, I wished that I had saved my ramen soups to warm me up a little bit.

Day #4 total: 15km

Nevermind, after making new friends and finally bumping into old ones, I set up the balance of my tent, laid out clothes and breakfast for the morning. It was going to be an early one: 3:45 alarm to make it to a 5:30 sunrise at the Torres. Breathtaking as the staggering, jagged rocks jutting out of the earth may be, they were supposedly even more amazing a bit after sunrise, when the sun paints streaks of yellow, orange, and pink across the rock face. Despite the fact that I didn't really believe the jaw dropping effect, neither the night before nor the morning nearing 6:10, several fellow hikers of the early morning convinced me to stay just a bit longer. Finally! Rainbow colors painted on the Torres. Photos:
Just after sunrise
The Colors
Now, for the return to base, the hike was pretty much all down hill as the previous day was a trudge uphill. Downhill, while significantly faster, is much more loathed by me. With pack and all, I took a spectacular dive on my butt on an innocent decline in the trail. Luckily, it didn't seem like anyone witnessed my fall from grace.

The previous afternoon was mucky and misty, not the best for picture taking, but this day was pure sun. Again. I am confident no one-NO ONE-gets this lucky in hiking the W trek. Cloudless:

Day #5: 22km

Unbelievable experience.

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