Torres del Paine Q – Day 8

Thursday 17th December 2015
Los Perros to Refugio Grey via the John Gardner Pass

I stayed awake late the night before, putting all clothes into separate ziplog bags,
reorganising the pack to be better prepared for the rain in case it would rain again the next day. I finally went to sleep around midnight 30 and put the alarm clock for 5am.

I woke up, went to grab my backpack from the kitchen area as I had left it there to dry. I also switched there my flip-flops  for my hiking shoes which were now dry. I went back to the tent, put the stuff into the backpack and went to drop the backpack into the kitchen. Then I went again and packed up the tent and went back  to the kitchen, put the tent in the backpack. Then I started preparing brekky and ate there, chatting to the Americans, to Sarah and Marc and Emma and Julian. Everyone was getting ready for an early start.
At 7.20am, I was off. Emma and Julian started at the same time but as they were super-fast, they were soon out of sight.Direction: El Paso!
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It started with very muddy slippery ground as it had rained a lot the day before.
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We went through a forest. I would name it the “Who is going to fall?” forest as it really required full attention not to fall and ultimately I saw many fall! The great thing was that the sky was blue, super clear and the weather warm.

At some point, we reached the snow. Someone had forgotten their camera on a tree, probably during a short break, so I picked it up and shortly after gave it to the girl who had forgotten it and had come back for it. She was pretty easy to spot considered she was the only one walking in the opposite direction at that  hour and had a worried look on her face. It was the couple from Chicago we had hiked the last bit with with Vitold when we had stopped at the same time to contemplate the glacier’s ice falling into the lake. Spring was not too far and we could see the first leaves coming out.

After walking through some snow, we walked into a landscape of rocks and then through more snow.The weather was warm and I was in T-shirt. Above my hiking pant, I had put the gaiters on, which were really useful in the snow. Slowly, slowly, we walked up to the top which was 1,200m high while the campground we had left was at 500m above sea level. It took me 3 hours to get to the top.

But then…woooo…the view…that view. It was just incredible. Mind-blowing. Rewarding. On this other side we could now see, there was the entire Grey glacier, the third biggest glacier in South America, 27km long which was there, right in front of us. Seeing it from so high up was fantastic.
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Looking behind me.
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Taking the shot from where that person was and looking at Los Perros valley we come from.
DSCF5210 (Medium).JPGEveryone was happy but also laughing. So here we were, at this terrible Pass? The legendary dreadful terrifying John Gardner Pass? We chuckled. Piece of cake on that day. No, seriously, that spot where no one was allowed to go through alone and had to go with a group? We were probably just lucky that day with the weather. If it had been cloudy, foggy, super windy, it may have been different. But today was a clear blue sky and just a bit of icy glaciary wind. As soon as anyone was arriving in T-shirt at the top of the hill, the first thing they did was to put on a couple of layers as the wind was freezing! I had my Gore-Tex jacket on and my Cusco hat.  After a great snack break there, soaking in the view, I started going down.
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Juanitette posing in front of the glacier.
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I had seen Vitold at the top and we had started going down at the same time but he was faster. What was incredible with walking down was that you could stop at any time to keep contemplating the view of Glaciar Grey and that made it the best day of the hike for me for that reason. It was the most incredible view and the weather that day was perfect. Glaciar Grey is 27km long, 6km wide and 270 square meters. It apparently is receding at a rate of 100 meters per year. If this rate is constant, the glacier will have disappeared in 270 years. Strange to imagine.

One of my favourite shot of the day.
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We went down inside a forest and it was really steep and muddy. That part was really risky. Going down took forever.

I finally got out of the muddy part and reached a beautiful huge river going down where I stopped for lunch on a stone from which I had a really beautiful view.

I started walking again and reached Campamento Paso. Vitold was hanging out there, drying his stuff. If I wanted to really do the hike in 10 days, I would have stopped there for a night, but everyone was continuing until Grey and also felt itchy to keep going.We shoot off from the campground around 3pm and walked to Campamento Grey. It was really interesting to experience micro-climates from so close. The forest we walked in that afternoon was much drier than the one we had walked through the day before. We saw a puma footprint! It was really exciting although we didn’t see any puma. The weather was great. Here are some photos of the afternoon.

We saw a condor flying in the sky.

We also saw a caterpillar trying to climb up. It was a really pretty one which looked like a Christmas tree. It was funny to see how it moved its body.

We arrived around 8pm at Grey after having walked 22 km.
DSCF5386 (Medium) It was a really long day.Once we arrived at the campground, we saw Amy and Dan who told us they had walked all around and found that the spot where they had pitched the tent was the best, so we decide to pitch our tents near theirs.
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There was this sign talking about the diversity of the national park.
DSCF5389 (Medium).JPGFirst, we went to register at the reception and grabbed some beers. Here was what the mini-store there was selling.

They were also offering kayaking on the lake near the ice or hiking on the glacier. I hesitated. It could have been nice to stay there and go the next day to do that but finally I decided not to.
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We  went to the section where there was still some sun left and dried our tents there for 10 minutes while having a beer and enjoying the view.
DSCF5401 (Medium).JPGThen we pitched the tents, went for showers. Mine was super hot while Emma and Vitold got super cold ones. After showers, we went to have a drink at the Refugio Bar with Emma, Julian and Vitold. It was very strange to be at such a beautiful bar in the middle of a National Park. Next to us was this guy we see on this photo playing chess with his 61-year old dad. We chatted a bit with them. They had hiked the Circuit together with a guide / porter. I was impressed!
DSCF5402 (Medium).JPGThe sofas were so comfortable our bodies just wanted to stay there forever and the Pisco Sour we had was really good too.
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After that, we went back to the table next to our tents and cooked and I enjoyed chatting with Vitold, Amy, Dan, Emma and Julian. There was this moth hanging around.

We went to bed around midnight. I setup the alarm clock for 6am for the next morning, knowing that I was slow.

Next day, walking to the boat at Refugio Grande and exiting the park!