Torres del Paine Hike – Preparation

Wednesday 9th December 2015

I spent the entire day in Puerto Natales getting ready for a 10-day hike in Torres del Paine, which was a length I had never done. I started the day by going to the laundry and giving the few clothes that needed washing again, making sure that I would have no laundry left and only clean clothes for the hike and for the day I would be back. It was about 10.30am. Alright that’s not true. First I started with an awesome brekky served at the Erratic Rock and it was indeed one of the best brekky and coffee I had on the trip so kuddos to you guys at Erratic Rock for making that place awesome. So then, back to the lavanderia. First stop at 10.30am. They told me I could come pick up the clothes around 6pm. Perfect!
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My next stop was in a ferrateria to get some ropes. The guy at the talk had told us that for some of the camping spots, the tent were put on a platform and ropes would be needed on these platforms to tie up the tent to branches nearby as no pegs could be put in the ground so he had advised to grab 6 meters of rope. Alright then.

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Got the 6 meters of rope. Cheap and light.
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I continued my Preparation Day adventure and stopped at this store selling dried fruits. Such an awesome thing to buy when going for a hike. The dog here was funny, he seemed to be waiting for the shop owner to give him some treats.
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The next stop was the most important one. Giving my hiking shoes for repair. I had a hole in one of them at the level of the beginning of the toes and if I didn’t repair it that day and it rained during the hike, I would be swimming in my hiking shoes again like I had on the hike to La Cumbre in Colombia mid-July. So I left the shoes there to a woman and it was agreed I would come pick them up at 7pm.DSCF3522 (Medium).JPG

Next stop was Unimarc where I bought a bit more food.
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Then I went to Salomon.
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There I got a whistle and a raincover for my backpack (which actually proved to be crap during the hike because it didn’t have elastics to tighten it around the backpack and with the Patagonian wind, that made it useless. Damn it. I didn’t realise that when I bought it!
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I went into this other hiking store called Balfer.DSCF3526 (Medium).JPG

There I found a small backpack that could be folded / unfolded and which was THE item I would have brought with me since the start of this trip in an even smaller format version if I had thought about it. This one was a bit bulky but it would do the job for 10 days.
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While walking the streets, I passed this store called Wild, in which they were selling dried food.

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I was very excited to find dried food meals in Puerto Natales as I didn’t expect to find any here so I bought three of these meals.
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My next stop was in this shop called Kallpamayu Outdoors.

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There I found something very important too..leather-protection for my hiking shoes! The owner agreed to lend me this orange towel to use to clean them before applying the product and that I could bring back in the evening before 10pm when done with it.
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There was now only one item I was missing: biodegradable soap I could use in nature. I had finished my little 50ML wilderness blue bottle that I had bought at K2 Basecamp in Brisbane before to leave. I asked about biodegradable soap in all stores, including this one and couldn’t find it in Puerto Natales.DSCF3533 (Medium).JPG

I also asked in pharmacies but got the same answer.

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Here I got some candies and cereal bars.
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Another tienda selling that too.
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I stopped at Don Bosco again for some final grocery shopping.DSCF3537 (Medium).JPG

Got some veggies and fruits here.
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Then I was ready and went back at the hostel around 1.30pm. I cooked some quick pasta and then spent the next 90 minutes preparing the food logistic for 10 days: 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 10 dinners and 10..snack bags!! I wanted to make sure that I would still have food on the 10th day. At the same time, I also wanted to make sure that I would not carry extra weight of additional food for nothing. So I had bought tons of zip log bags and for once I got super organised about it.

Here were the bags for the breakfasts. 5 small bags of Quaker oats with chocolate. 5 bags of muesli. A little pot of cinnamon powder which proved to be super great. A piece of ginger to pour hot water on it and make ginger tea or give some taste to cold water. Some dried fruits I would tear apart and put in the brekky in little chunks, there were some dried figs, mangoes, plums, bananas and papayas. Yummy. And some..powder milk in the bottom left bag. All this mixed with boiled water would hopefully make a great start for the day.
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Then I had the lunch bag. 2 packs of 10 tortillas each, so 20 tortillas, alias 2 tortillas per day. 3 cream cheese and 2 salamis. And a pot of peanut butter. The plan that I applied successfully was to have one tortilla with a big spoon of peanut butter spread. Then one tortilla with a big spoon of roughly a third of one of the cream cheese pot plus one fifth of a salami for lunch. Cold lunch. Durable. Quick and easy to make in the middle of the day, with no gas required. Yes. I also brought with me little mayonnaise but didn’t use them ultimately. At the end of the hike, I regretted not having taken with me one more pack of tortillas as these lunches were actually a bit “light” and I could have spread the cream cheese and the fifth of salami (usually cut in 5-6 slices) on two slices instead of one.DSCF3544 (Medium).JPG

Then were the dinner bags. 2 dinners of couscous with 2 carrots and one red pepper and some butter and parmesan bag and veggie cube and a soup. I ended up taking only one carrot as it was super heavy by the time I finished packing the bag. I regretted not having taken a portion of soup per dinner as these little soups proved to be super great to warm up in the evening. I could have done without taking the butter.
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Another set of 3 dinners: 3 portions of mashed potatoes powder that I would mix with powder milk and butter and salt and add to them parmesan and a third of salami for each meal. The veggie cubes turned to not be useful for that meal. One hot soup per night which was great.
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The last 5 dinners were first 3 ready-meals. Each was actually about 250grammes which turned to be heavy but for some nights it was nice to not have to cook anything and just put the closed bag in the boiling water for 10 minutes and then open it and eat. I also had 2 dinners of 2 portions of fresh pasta ready to be boiled in water, spinach and ricotta inside, mixed with parmesan and salami, one half for each meal. The veggie cubes again were not that needed. Only for the couscous it proved to be handy to add some more taste.
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And the bags I put lots of heart and preparation in: the snack bags. 😀
I prepared 10 snack bags made of this each: about 12 mini cubes of chocolate, a ziplog portion of dry fruits, an energy bar, some compote and a candy. DSCF3550 (Medium).JPG

The 10 snack bags looked like this. And it turned out to be…too heavy!! I decided to take with me only 5 of them. Needed to reduce the weight somewhere! Damn it! They proved to be enough during the hike. So a snack bag for 2 days was fine.
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Here was all the food for 10 days, the green bag containing the lunch stuff.
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I crammed this in my big backpack and it did fit.
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By the time I finished packing, the backpack looked super heavy.
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I spent the next hour with a guy who had just arrived in our dorm room and just come back from the “O-circuit” that he had done in 7 days as he was quite fast. We took all my stuff out of the bag and went through each of the items, one by one. Every single item. And I removed again a few things here and there. During that exercise, we could see outside of the window some hikers learning to put a tent together with the team of Basecamp bar.
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In the late afternoon, I went for a walk all around the square for 2 rounds, with my backpack on my back. It was super heavy. But it would be manageable. If I could carry it now, then I was going to be able to carry it the next day. And the most important was that each day it would become lighter as I would be eating more and more of the food. Bag ready, I went out to go pick up my laundry and my shoes. On the way to the laundry I saw the same dog again, queuing this time at the hot dog place! So funny!
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In the evening, I went to give back the towel used to clean up the shoes and then went again to Basecamp bar and had some drinks. I was relaxed and ready to go. More important, I was not afraid anymore of going hiking alone. I had reached the point where I could do it. And for that hike, I also knew that I would run into lots lots of people and that it would be fine! The last beers before going to Torres del Paine were great. Then it was time to sleep and be ready for the bus for the next morning!

Here I was….ready for the Torrresssss!!!!! Yihaaaa!!! Tomorrow, off to one of the most, if not THE most legendary spectacular national park of South America. Torres del Paine, here I come!!! 😀