Saturday 12th December 2015
From Campamento Italiano to Hotel Las Torres campground
Alarm clock at 6.10am again. The rain was still falling from trees on the tent`s roof. It was really cold. My hands were freezing while I packed. We had brekky and during brekky this time my feet were freezing. So cold and damp weather that day there! We chatted with lots of people, from UK, Switzerland, US, Japan.
We left around 8.30am. The tent was packed very muddy and wet in the bag. Yuk.
Here is Vincent, posing for the departure shot.
First we passed the river we had heard all night from the tent, such a beautiful sound.
The sun was hiding in the morning.
First good views of the Nordenskjöld Lake. The lake is named like this in honour to a Swedish explorer and geologist who “discovered” the lake while doing mineralogical expeditions in Patagonia in 1890s. It’s actually funny (and sad?) all those names in the Torres del Paine National Park which are related to Europeans when maybe the names given to these places could now be Tehuelches names instead?
Walking through the forest.
Arrived at this sign.
To our right, Campamento Frances. At that moment, it was snowing but gently.
View to the left.
Another view of the lake, from higher up.
Quite snowish to the left.
Passing some area in revegetation.
Nice lookout over the lake and surroundings. That guy over there was hypnotised by that view. He stayed there probably for an hour, in the same spot. I remember going down and looking up and he was still there. It was indeed a great spot where to stand and watch around without moving.
What a view indeed.
Are these calafate berries? Could I eat them? Didn’t try.
Walking on a pebble beach as part of the track. Nice. I remember managing to get lost here, by taking a small path to the left at some point, passing through bushes and being back on the beach and realising the real path was just on this beach and after the beach continuing in parallel to the lake.
Mini waterfall in the distance.
To the left.
And the lake, the huge lake, always there to the right. What is so nice when hiking is to constantly see the same huge thing but from thousands of different angles.
Arrived at Refugio Cuernos where I had lunch with Vincent, Jade, Alex, Julian and Theo. The facilities were awesome, a couple of tables in a big space with lots of natural light and well protected.
They had great maps on the wall. Here is a map of the full National Park.
On Day 1, I went from the Administrative Centre to Paine Grande.
On Day 2, we walked from Paine Grande to Campamento Italiano and then had done a return-trip in the afternoon to Mirador Britanico with tiny bags and just water. On Day 3 (today) we had just walked from Campamento Italiano to Campamento Frances and were now in Los Cuernos for lunch. From there we were about to walk to Hotel Las Torres where we would sleep tonight. Can you see the W on this photo?
Here is the map of the full circuit or “O”, although it doesn’t show the tail of the Q.
After lunch, I walked to the toilets and saw a few condors hovering over! I was so intensely looking up at them I didn`t see that the women`s toilets were behind me and went to the guys ones, thinking there was only one toilet ahahahah.
Here is a video of one condor flying. It is so nice to see the white on the top of his wings.
Refugio Los Cuernos building.
Ready go to to Hotel Las Torres.
Off we start!
I think I remember starting at the same time as Vincent, Jade, Theo, Alex and Julian but they were walking way faster so very quickly I was on my own. I got used to walking alone and has no problem with that so that was totally fine. Passing some river and refilling the 500ml Nalgene bottle with fresh pure Patagonian water.
View to the left.
And always this amazing view of the Nordenskjold Lake to the right.
Sign telling a bit about the progress made.
There was also at some point a sign telling people to take not only their rubbish with them but also their toilet paper! And to not burn it. One of the three big fires was started by a guy who was burning some toilet paper.
They seem to know where to put the sign as there was indeed some people who had left toilet paper near the path. Sounds like people by the time they arrived here just needed to go to toilets! I was lucky to not want to go to toilets in between campgrounds so didn’t get into that situation of leaving toilet paper behind. A small trick is to use the 500ml Nalgene bottle and water instead and have a small micro-fibre towel to dry up after, that way you just don’t leave any toilet paper. If Asian and Arabic countries use water to clean themselves up, there is probably a reason…There is also the possibility of carrying a trowel to burry the toilet paper. Or to carry a plastic bag specific for that in which to put it in and deposit in the bin at the next campground. Torres del Paine had bins at almost all campgrounds which made it really convenient for a long hike. It is definitely a National Park where to go for your first 10-day hike as there are a few things which make the life of the hiker really easy here. Saying that, besides that toilet paper, overall, Torres del Paine was like El Chalten hiking paths, a spotless place. I was absolutely impressed with the fact you would not see any single rubbish anywhere. Not like El Cocuy in Colombia or even worse, Santa Cruz trek in North of Peru next to Huaraz where I had seen hundreds of rubbish.
Path going down.
View to the left.
Fruit of the red flower tree.
I got lost and somehow took the horse’s path instead of the hiker’s path.
I saw massive flies on that path.
And people on horses indeed.
And still the same lake there to the right.
This path was going left to Chileno campground but I continued straight to go to Hotel Las Torres.
Got back on the hiker’s path. Beautiful views.
Small lake to the left.
Going down towards Hotel Las Torres which can be seen as a small white line somewhere near the top right corner.
Passing some horses, looking back.
View to the left.
There was a lot of these round bushes of that yellow flower.
Passing on a bridge above a river.
Finally arrived there. Beautiful resort for the ones who don’t want to hike.
I passed this small grocery store.
View of the resort when turning back, getting closer to the campground.
Of course I managed to get lost when searching for the campground. There was another campground on the right which was not displaying any sign so I walked around there but then they told me it was something else and the real campground I was looking for was on the left so I walked back to the main road and found the path to the “real” campground. There I met with Vincent, Jade, Alex, Theo and Julian and pitched the tent around 7pm and we chilled out.
There was another mini-store right at the campground selling lots of things. In case you come hiking here and do not want to carry food for 10 days, you could buy food here.
Lots of stuff for the ones who forgot things or ran out!
And you could even buy beers…which we did.
And if you took your phone with you, to use as a GPS for example, you could even charge it here.
There were hot showers, yummy. I took a shampoo and got rid of my dreads. Then we had dinner on a nice table outside located next to our tents. With Pringle’s equivalent. And beers.
The top of my back on the right was very very painful all day so I added a Chinese patch full of warm tiger balm on it hoping it would help. That`s what happens when you carry 10 days of food but when you are not an ultra-light backpacker yet!! I need to learn to pack lighter and lighter to avoid this kind of pain but still be able to go for 10-day hikes! Or considered how much food could be purchased here, I could definitely have carried a few less meals and bought some pasta / parmesan / tomato sauce here for some of the meals to come.
Same ritual as usual, we had dinner, and chatted. The night was falling and the mountain disappearing behind the clouds / fog while the temperature dropped. This is at 10.25pm. Time to go to bed.
Tomorrow, off to Campamento Chileno!
Let’s finally go check out the famous Paine Towers, alias Torres del Paine!