Torres del Paine Q – Day 6

Tuesday 15th December 2015
Seron to Dixon (18km walk)

I had put the alarm clock at 6.10am but heard it only at 6.30am. It was raining outside.
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It took me an hour to pack the backpack in the tent. By that time, the rain had stopped. I got the backpack out and went to put it in the covered kitchen area. Then I packed the tent in the bag right after as it felt like it could rain again anytime.
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It took me 20 minutes. I am getting faster! After that, I prepared the brekky, granola with milk powder, dried fruits, coffee bag and milk powder with hot water. During breakfast, people were talking about the strange animal scream they had heard during the night. Some people had gone outside of their tents and said they had seen the glimpse of a puma. So was it a puma or not? That was the big debate of the morning.

I started walking at 9am. I left while Emma was packing her stuff, knowing that she was so fast that she would still arrive way earlier than me at Dixon, the next campground.
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First, I passed 2 American girls friends of Tim, the guy from Grand Rapids. Then Emma and Julian passed me, then a couple from Canada, then a Chilean with 2 Americans, then a hiker named Daniel, a hiking buddy of Emma and Julian. The walk in the morning passed a small waterfall, then it was pretty flat alongside a lake located on our right, then going up and up and up for a bit. Seeing the lake from the top was great. It was hot going up so wearing just a t-shirt was enough. Here are some photos of the beginning of the walk.

Once at the top of the hill, the wind was welcoming us, the strong wind of Patagonia reminding us where we were and I put my Gore-Tex jacket on again. Going down on the other side of the hill, we had the view of another lake.
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Some photos of the walk to Coiron, the place where everyone was stopping for lunch.

I arrived around noon in Coiron. I had a lunch break there for about 30 minutes.
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Then I started walking again. Daniel had slowed down his pace. His knee was giving him pain so we walked together, chatting. The landscape was really pretty that afternoon. Lakes and mountains, rivers and flowers were all around us. The weather was cloudy but it didn’t snow. I was walking with just my hiking pant on and merino sport’s bra and merino shirt on. I still had my pain at the top of my back on the right side,next to the neck but no pain in the knees and my backpack was getting lighter which felt really nice.

It was nice to see Dixon’s campground from the track and appreciate in which incredible surroundings we were about to camp.
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Zooming in on the campground.
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We arrived at Dixon’s campground around 3.30pm.

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We couldn’t see Emma and Julian so we went to the far end and pitched our tents in a very quiet spot. I pitched mine in 10 minutes!
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Getting really good at that!  I was thinking about having a shower but then some guys said the water was freezing cold so I had a “baby wipes” shower in the tent. Then I spotted Sarah and Marc and we chatted. They were staying in the refugio that evening, treating themselves. That’s the beauty of Torres del Paine. It is a National Park with quite a lot of infrastructure which means you can be very flexible. You could either camp every night like I did, or do a mix of camping and resorts. You can bring all your food or could also book meals in advance with the resort or turn up and hope they can still have an additional meal for you if you book on the day. You could be 70 and walk the flat parts of the Circuit with just a day pack on your shoulders and go from resort to resort. It does require some planning and booking in advance and reduces the flexibility and ability to adapt the walking to the weather but it does make it possible to hike Torres del Paine and appreciate its fantastic nature for older people whose knees and back should not be challenged too much.

With Sarah and Marc, we went for a walk to the nearby pebble beach and continued to chat. Sarah was working in insurance selling all kind of insurance packages while Marc was working as an engineer in oil and gas. He had worked in Perth, London, Calgary. The beach side was pretty alongside the Dixon Lake and we could see some glacier and some iceberg floating on the lake.

We came back from our beach walk. Sarah and Marc went for dinner in the refugio while we grabbed one of the available tables with Emma, Julian, Daniel and a guy from India who was living in San Jose, California. We also bought some beers from the store where again you could buy a lot of food. This means you could arrive there and just buy pasta and tomato sauce for the evening.

It was a really nice evening. I didn’t cook that evening. Just boiled water and let the precooked meal sit in the boiling water for 10 minutes then grabbed my titanium spork, opened the bag and started eating. Tonight on the menu, I had rice chicken curry and it was yummy. Emma and Julian cooked some pasta with tomato sauce and Daniel cooked some sardines with rice and soup. We also drunk some beers bought at the mini store there. Daniel had a small bottle of whisky and we each had some of it. It was funny to be drinking whisky in almost the middle of nowhere. My 600ml MSR gas bottle didn’t have enough white gas left in there for me to use it with the stove. This time this happened to me after 6 days. I was really glad I had brought the additional 345ml MSR bottle that Sam from the Erratic Rocks had lended me. I was also happy that this issue had happened in El Chalten first during my ‘test run’ to prepare the Torres as otherwise I would not have brought with me the 345ml bottle. Saying that, I later met MSR bottle experts who told me that it was just about putting the bottle in an angle so that the white tube could grab the gas so normally I could have just been fine with my 600ml bottle IF I knew how to use it completely yet, which wasn’t the case.

Here are some photos of the campground and our dinner meals.

Emma and Julian had a great map with lots of information about the walking distances between campgrounds but also the sunrise and sunset times. Knowing that we had 18 hours of daylight around the 15th December was awesome.

Around 9.45pm, there was still lots of light but it started raining. We all went for the “before sleeping” logistic, brushing teeth, toilets in order to avoid waking up at night if we could avoid that, and making a hot water bottle for me. Then we went to sleep.

I decided to take it easy the next day and wake up whenever I would wake up so I didn’t setup any alarm clock.

Tomorrow, sleeping in yihaaaa and then off to Los Perros!