W Trek: Legit Hiking

Torres Del Paine National Park, in the Patagonia Region of Chile

'W' is for 'Worried.' That's one way to describe how I felt about this trek that is supposed to last five days and four nights. My initial plan was to do this thing as part of a tour group but chatting with people who had both done the trek and were going to do the trek, I learned that no one gets a guide for the W trek.. except for old people.


Patagonia! X 2
Plan B was to link up with a group that had their sh*t together (think map-reading, cooking, distribution of supplies... things you don't learn on the mean streets of NYC). Unfortunately, given my time constraint because of previous route changes and altered plans, finding a suitable group was not going to happen. Damn. Plan C was to carry a one-person tent, food, supplies, sleeping bag, mat, pack and yes... this was going to weigh a TON. T-O-N. Carrying all the stuff was only my second biggest concern. I wasn't concerned in the least with getting lost or the trek being scary, cliff-ridden as I was told that the path was fairly straightforward and not jaw-droppingly steep. The weather was concern numero uno. One, it cannot be predicted. See below:

At Camp Torres. Not to be confused with Refugio Torres
Secondly, able-bodied men that I had met at the hostel upon their return from the trek said that the last day of their individual treks was a step beyond miserable. Freezing rain that ripped sideways, tents full of said rain that had to be cupped out, wet sleeping bags, near-freezing temperatures, and unabating wind that only made the situation much, much worse. Weather that was apparently so bad that more than a few of these guys simply skipped the last leg of the 'W' to just get the hell out of Dodge. For someone who barely scrapes over 5' (152cm) and 110lbs (50kg), the weather conditions & wearing a pack that was nearly my own body weight was starting to look a tiny bit daunting, particularly since the recommended weight is 20% of your body weight.

45 minutes before the bus was supposed to pick us up, my pack, exclusive of the layers of clothing I was wearing and the heavy hiking boots, weighed in at 30kg. For the lib arts majors, that is three times more than I should be carrying and well over half my weight.

 I certainly have no extraordinary strengths that this was going to be anywhere near acceptable, so with the help of three guys that were hanging out in the common area and happen to pack light, I tried to whittle away the unecessaries. "Keep the toothpaste, but you don't really need deodorant." I kept the deodorant, but that just shows how light I was already packed considering I'd stuffed the entire tent and sleeping bag INSIDE my backpack. Clothing and medical supplies were not an option so food was going to have to be the only thing. Deciding against hot meals, I had no stove or gas to carry. I nixed a few of the heavier food items and got down to a whopping 27kg. Still a stupidly heavy for my small frame, but it was going to have to work. There really was no other choice.

Foodstuffs. Dropped the two cans upper left. Will it be enough food? We'll see.
Every single person has a very different experience of the trek: weather, gear, and housing options being the major factors. You can 1% it. (Yes, those of you not accustomed to that verbology can now pick it up: I introduced this phrase to a group of homeboys, i.e. Americans, who immediately took to the phrase that I'd been using with a group of NYC friends for a few years now. 'Sup guys!! ). 1%'ing the trek meant you staying inside a place with real walls and a bed that was not on the floor, thereby making many of my concerns irrelevant but also significantly less exciting and authentic.

 Anyway, we got extremely lucky with weather. No freezing, sideways rain that chilled you to the bone. Mostly bright, shining sun with blue skies and whispy clouds. And wind. OH BOY, was there wind. Wind so strong that I had to immediately sit my butt down behind a rock on many occasions or risk being blown over... off a cliff. There were some interesting situations that I was in and more than a few decisions that remain questionable but the rest of the details of the trek are to be continued. Stay tuned.
Blue skies! (No that's not me, my pack was bigger relative to my size)

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