What’s a place you were looking forward to for a long time before you finally visited?
The Torres Del Paine spires are arguably what originally drew us to the stunningly beautiful Patagonia region. When searching for pictures of this place, chances are one of the first images you’ll see is similar to the first one here: a turquoise blue pool in front of thick fingers jutting into the sky.
Patagonia is known for its unique beauty, shaped by hundreds of glaciers carving into the rocks. A true haven for hikers and trekkers, we were looking forward to this for a long time.
We had discounted the possibility of trekking the Torres Del Paine National Park, mostly because we didn’t have any backpacking equipment. However, little did we know the two activities are not the same. Instead, trekking is more like through-hiking between refugios – cabins or hotels that also usually offer a campground. We could have trekked with the rest, and next time, we’ll likely do just that.
This time around, though, we stuck to day hikes. And our monster commitment for this park was the namesake Mirador Torres Del Paine.
This very popular hike should be started as early as possible; we were glad for the ranger’s advice to bust the park doors right at 7am. We entered the north gate and parked at the Hotel Las Torres.
From there, we hiked up the ridge and into the valley. This first section was probably comparable to what we’d do on an average hike, and we were disappointed to climb all that altitude only to lose it all again.
Down at the river, we came to the refugio, where we could restock on water and use the restroom. Unfortunately, this gave us a false expectation of the supplies available on the trail. THIS IS THE LAST WATER AVAILABLE.
The second section was my favorite; it took us through a wooded area along the riverbank. There, we enjoyed the shade and admired a fun tree trunk piled high with rocks.
Then came the hard part. By this point, our rationed water was already dwindling, and the camp at the base of the final rise didn’t have any more to offer. We were, fortunately, able to use the bathroom there.
The last section goes straight up a boulder-strewn path without any shelter from the sun. This was also the first day the wind finally died down, so we were also plagued by mosquitoes. Our legs protested the entire ascent, dehydrated and lacking any fuel left to burn; they were jelly.
Somehow, we made it to the top, and the views were worth it! We didn’t get the clear weather we had hoped for, but at least the cold wind at the top blew the pesky bugs away.
We must have spent at least two hours up there, just basking in our successful climb, taking loads of pictures, and eating our lunch. By the time we left, the crowds had at least tripled, another benefit of the early start.
The descent was much faster, though we were also racing to get back to the refugio and fresh water. Water never tasted so good!
All told, the 10.6 mile hike felt much more like 14 miles with all the zigzagging up the final rise. Next time, we’ll bring our water filter to refill from the river, and we’ll camp at the refugio to cut off 3 hours of hiking from the day. We were insanely sore when we got back to the car, but we also felt incredibly accomplished. Achievement: unlocked!
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