Paine Circuit

Posted at 22:28:0, 20/11/2004

Sunday 14th November 2004, 5pm, Seron Campsite, Torres del Paine

Last night I met a couple of American guys, Bruce and Lance, who Lorna met while she was travelling alone. We went out for a great steak meal, our last one for up to two weeks! This morning we got the bus to the Torres del Paine National Park and did the first day of trekking.

We're carrying a huge amount of stuff (my rucksac is 26kg, Lorna's is 23kg) but the day went okay after initially missing the track! Most of the big mountains have been covered in cloud for the whole day. The walking has been through rolling countryside and green open grass with a few cows and horses... it feels very Scottish!

The camping is by a small refugio (you can only camp in certain places) and we feel very hardcore because most of the other people doing the circuit are staying in these refugios and not carrying tents, food and cooking gear!

Monday 15th November 2004, 4pm, Dickson Campground, Torres del Paine

Sunbathing in Patagonia was not something I was expecting to be doing, but that's what Lorna and I are doing now! The clouds mostly cleared in the early afternoon and we had great views of the mountains to the north and some huge distant glaciers. We've even had fleeting glimpses of the huge granite faces of the Torres del Paine, but they're now covered in cloud.

It was another fairly short day today: about 5 hours of walking, and we were finished by 3pm, but with all the stuff we're carrying that's probably a good thing. My rucksac definitely felt lighter this morning, but it felt just as heavy by the time we stopped!

Tuesday 16th November 2004, 5:30pm, Campamento Los Perros, Torres del Paine

Another short day of walking, and a pleasant afternoon of sunbathing, playing cards and reading! Today we walked up a large valley through open green forest and across some exciting bridges. Just before this campsite we climbed some moraine, over the lip was the small, steep Glacier Lor Perros ("The Dogs Glacier") with an ice choked lake at the bottom.

This is the first campsite that isn't by a refugio, but there's still toilets and even a little shop so, although this is the furthest from a road we'll get, it still doesn't feel very remote.

Wednesday 17th November 2004, 4:30pm, Campamento Paso, Torres del Paine

Wow, what an awesome day today was! We trekked up a forested valley and through some extremely muddy and entertaining bogs (and that's what they're like when there's been no rain for several days!). We've had clear blue skies all day and even now there are only a few fluffy clouds.

After the forest we came onto open scree and large patches of slushy snow, leading up to a rounded pass. We came over the pass at lunchtime and had an amazing view of the huge Glacier Grey - its about 5km wide at the point where we first saw it. At the top of the Glacier, to our right, is a distant, high snowy ice cap. Above the glacier are steep, forested mountain-sides with steeper loose scree at the bottom where the glacier is cutting the rock away underneath. There are huge crevasses all over the place and its pretty amazing.

We were thinking of walking another 2-3 hours today so that we can save a day on the circuit. For some reason I've been feeling quite tired and unenergetic, probably just due to being ill a couple of weeks ago, so we decided to stop here. This campsite is much better than the last one, with fewer people, no shop or loud music and an awesome view through the trees and across Glacier Grey.

Thursday 18th November 2004, 9:30pm, Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine

Today was a very long day as we ran two shorter days together to get to Lago Pehoe more quickly... Lorna doesn't enjoy short days and lots of sunbathing as much as me! We came along the side of Glacier Grey and to the lake at the end. Here huge lumps of ice fall into Lago Grey and float off. The ice is incredibly blue and you can see the massive ice towers and crevasses more clearly.

We're now camping by a huge refugio (more of a hotel in fact!) on the side of Lago Pehoe. There's a nice little buildng to cook in and beer for sale. Its good that we're here tonight as we're now having the first bad weather of the trek, with driving rain and very strong wind that is blowing several of the other tents across the countryside!

We've got the first good views of the big granite spires today and I can see them from the little building where we just had a meal of rice, tuna and pea soup (much nicer than it sounds!) while chatting with a couple from South Wales.

Saturday 20th November 2004, 5:30pm, Casa Paulette, Puerto Natales

We've had two easier days the last two days and now we're back in Puerto Natales. I've felt very low on energy and my ankle has been quite sore since the end of the second day of the trek, so we missed out the Paine Lookout so that I could get back and rest... plus a big steak and some fresh vegetables is quite appealing!

Yesterday we walked from the huge hostel at Lago Pehoe and stopped for lunch at the bottom of the Valle del Frances. I chilled out and made tea while Lorna walked up to a viewpoint about an hour up the valley where she saw a huge avalanche. We continued on to the nice Refugio Los Cuernos where we had a small and windy camp spot but a great place to eat our mash, salami and chicken soup inside while we drank cheap Chilean wine! We met the sister of one of Lorna's school friends and the Welsh couple were there again, so it was a good night.

Today we just walked out to the roadhead where we started, where we saw much more of the massive granite towers than last time. Back in Puerto Natales now for a much needed shower! I feel like there's still enough more to do in Torres del Paine for a return trip, and that's without including the huge amount of rock climbing in the park!

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