Friday 11th December 2015
Paine Grande to Italiano + Valle Frances
Here is the map again. That day we went from Paine Grande campground to Italiano campground and hiking in Valle Frances in the afternoon.
I put the alarm clock at 6.10am. I woke up first at 4am at a moment where the wind was so strong that it bent the tent a lot and I had it in my face! I was glad I had reinforced the pegs with a brick on each of them! The alarm clock rang and I packed up everything in the backpack inside the tent then walked to the brekky area and put the backpack there.
Here was my white tent, tiny in this picture, seen from the kitchen place.
From the kitchen, we faced the tents that the resort offered for rent for people who wanted to sleep in them, some of them who had broken their tent poles in the crazy wind!
Behind these tents, the weather in the direction of Glacier Grey didn’t look that good that day. I was glad I didn’t want to start with the terrible legendary dreadful Pass!!!
The toilets and showers block.
The kitchen and behind it, the resort.
I unpitched the tent and then joined Jade, Vincent, Alex, Julien and Theo for brekky inside the kitchen.
It was funny to see what each of us was eating for breakfast. Alex had put hot water with powder milk and was adding real chocolate to it to make a hot chocolate drink. Theo had his choco pops cereals. Julien a bit of both. Jade an apple and a few more things. I can`t remember what Vincent was eating. I had granola poured with hot water, powder milk, cinnamon and some dried fruits.
We took some funny “W-sign making” photos and then started walking around 8.15am. towards Campamento Italiano.
Lake Pehoe on our right when leaving. Here I would take the boat we see on the right, 7 days later, to exit Torres del Paine National Park.
And off we went.
The landscape was really pretty, mountains to the left, lakes to the right. We passed through a forest of burned trees then a forest of green ones. It started snowing gently. Sometimes it was a bit windy, but never too much. Snow during Patagonia’s summer time! For us, it felt like Christmas was indeed coming soon!
Towards the end, we passed a bridge under the snow.
Passed another bridge.
View from the bridge.
I arrived at Campo Italiano around 11.30am.
There was a weather forecast displayed.
I had walked more slowly so Jade, Vincent, Theo, Julien and Alex were already almost done pitching their tents.
Got my tent up too.
Here was the small open kitchen where everyone was cooking.
The guys had a warm lunch while I ate my tortillas with peanut butter, cream cheese and salami. At lunch time, I ran into Benedicte, the girl I had taken the bus with from El Calafate to Puerto Natales and also into the 2 guys from Norway who had stayed in the same dorm room in El Chalten. So funny how you run into people constantly again and again!
We left around 1.30pm and started walking towards Mirador Britannico in Valle Frances.
It was quite a pretty long steep walk up and down, it felt like never-ending getting to the Mirador Britanico. At the beginning we had a great time walking slow and chilling out a lot especially near the river, then we started going faster and I followed Jade, Vincent, Julian, Alex and Theo from far, as the slow walker I am! It was snowing all day, a very soft snow. There were great views of the lakes and also of the Glaciar Torres. We saw a big stone split in two and also saw for the first time the yellowish round mushroom which grows on the trees and that people marinate and eat as I discovered later in Ushuaia. We also all saw a fox on our way back, which is so magical when it is an encounter you make in the wild. I just had time to grab the camera and trigger it before he disappeared.
Towards the end of the walk on the way back, it was snowing more and more heavily. It was getting darker and more silent, it was beautiful to walk at that time.
Here are photos of the walk. Click on the first one, and swap or click to go to the next shot.
I was back at the campground around 7.30pm, closing the walk as the last walker of the day.
We had all left our backpack outside as the Italiano campground has a reputation to have rats and I would rather have rats go through my backpack than make a hole in the tent to grab the food. Saying that, not sure it would have been really risky. Leaving the backpack outside meant it was fully wet when we came back. Best would have been to have some dry bags in which to hang the food on a rope outside but I didn`t have any spare one. Nevermind. Just slightly wet!
When back, I changed clothes for warm night dry clothes and went to the kitchen tent to cook with Jade, Vincent, Julien, Alex and Theo. We met Emma and Julian who were from New York and travelling for a few months or more and had just walked from Administracion directly to Italiano in one long day and were pretty exhausted!
Then after dinner we went to sleep around 10pm with the river sound as a background, besides the cringing of my Thermarest X-lite mattress, a very comfy small super light inflatable mattress for sure, but so noisy that I always try to pitch the tent 10 meters away from others to not bother them with that noise!! From times to times, we could hear
a sound like the thunder, but it was just ice blocks falling from the nearby glacier.
Tomorrow, off to Hotel Torres campground!