February 11th, 2008 – by: andycox_is_now_in
Fortunately, no repeat of the previous nights floods and made it through the night unscathed. With no more rain, we decided to risk continuing around the W circuit and try and negotiate the impassable rapids and round to the end of the W (just 10 hours today !!). All starting to feel the pain and knee support required for 1st time of trip. Chris struggling with a cold which resultantly meant the pace for day 3 was significantly slower than previous. However views walking out of camp made the pain worth it with the moisture in the air from surrounding waterfalls underneath another lovely day of sun displaying two full rainbows in front of the mountains. Passed the lesser of the two impassable rivers with ease, water having receded to ankle deep.
Continued round the lake and walked along a pebble beach getting drenched from the fetch from the waves being picked off the tops of waves and onto the beach. Soon reached the now infamous river and faced 5 rapids to cross. Choice needed to wade thigh deep through treacherous and ice cold water or try and negotiate stepping stones across. Falling in and getting full back pack drenched not a pleasant prospect. Watched several others cross before deciding on a route for the stepping stones through a mixture of lunging and jumping into stones in the middle of rapids. A couple of times overbalanced and just saved myself before falling in - quite hard to balance after jumping with a 70 litre backpack on !! One of those experiences that are horrendous when doing it, but great fun after you've made it safely to the other side.
Only Siggy got a wet leg. Having negotiated the rapids, just the steady uphill ascent to our final campsite of Camapamento Torres left. Chris starting to flag and I took up the pace. Weather phenomenally good and almost too hot to walk. Found the recommended short cut to save an hour off the trek and treated ourselves to an hour for lunch relaxing in the sun. No-one keen on continuing but forced ourselves onto the eastern side of the W. Climbed round a mountainside into the final valley and hit by a wall of wind. Impossible to walk forward and had to wait for in between gusts to move. Last thing we needed with aches and pains everywhere, but almost funny at the effort needed to move 10 feet. Slowly progressed down the very picturesque valley until getting to Campamento Chileno.
With just 2 hours of the W left, Joel and I treated ourselves to a beer and I bought a box of wine to celebrate making it all the way round, especially when so many others hadn't. Pushed on and got to Campamanto Torres after a 10 hour day. Last campsite coldest by far and wearing all clothes including hat and gloves to make dinner. Chris quickly went to bed whilst Joel, Siggy and I went to climb the last part of the W circuit up to the much awaited Torres del Paine mirador for sunset. 40 minutes of hard scrambling over boulders wondering where trying to climb to, until suddenly hitting the mirador giving the view seen on so many postcards with the 3 towering pillars of granite rising above the lake. Another sight that epitomises the beauty of South America and reduces the average hiker into gawping at such a unique place.
Got the picture perfect photos before being blown off the mountain and scrambled back down to the campsite.
With Chris missing out on the mirador the previous evening, he was determined to climb up to see it for sunirse. However when alarm went off at 5am, could hear rain battering down outside. Put off the walk for an hour before forcing ourselves out of bed and starting the climb in the dark. Got back to the mirador in time to see the end of the sunrise on the 3 pillars. Completely different view to night before with the grey pillars now a bright orange, slowly changing to yellow as the sun rose. Definitely worth climbing a 2nd time. Chris got his photos before cloud descended to obscure the mountains from view.
Returned to camp for breakfast putting the last of the chocolate into the last of the porridge (worked very well) before packing up tents and making 2 hour return walk to connect with the bus. On easiest part of the walk, still managed to lose sunglasses as blew off head in the wind ! Made it to hostal and bumped into Navimag girls again who were a day behind and on way to Torres del Paine mirador.
Connecting bus back to Puerto Natales to end a great 4 days hiking, fully justifiying hard decision to sacrifice the jungle at Rurrenebaque, Bolivia to give myself enough time to get as far south as Torres del Paine. Back at Puerto Natales, returned camping equipment, had the most enjoyable hot shower ever (after 4 days without), treated ourselves to another steak before the luxury of a hostal room and mattress to get a comfy sleep.