TDP Day 4: The Big Day

Torres Del Paine Travel Blog

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One of many bridge crossings. You cant read the sign probably, but it says "Only 2 people on bridge at same time".

This was it - the big stretch.  Going from Paine Grande, up the Valle Frances and back down again, and then over to Refugio Cuernos.  This trip would be about 10 hours of hiking and something like 15 miles (I´ll get exact mileage in here at some point). 

The weather again was PERFECT - so it was going to be a great day - other than my stupid ass boots that are still killing my feet - so sandals again.

The first stretch of my route was from Paine Grande to Campamiento Italiano...a flatish stretch that I did in my sandals no problem.

The next stretch was from Campamiento Italiano to Campamiento Britannico.  This was mostly up hill, but I was aided by the fact that I met David and Eileen from Ireland.  So we had a nice chat up half the distance.

The view I had as I lay on the rocks and watch the snow and ice come crashing down avalanche-style from the rocky peaks above. (you can see me in the hat on left)
  We stopped about midway to break for lunch and look across the valley at a steep rock face with snow drifts hanging perilously close to the edge.  Every few minutes, an avalanche would occur - a roar would fill the air and we could see the snow fall like a waterfall down into the valley below.  It was cool.

My new friends headed back down, but I decided to push on not only to Campamiento Britannico, but to the Mirador about 45 minutes beyond.   The Mirador was amazing - situated on top of a few big boulders, in the middle of the end of the valley.   So there was a rock wall on 3 sides, with the valley extending below us on the 4th side.  I took a short video I´ll try to post, but it surely won´t do it justice.

Ooops forgot to rotate this one, but here I am at top of the Valle Frances - amazing 360 view of peaks and valley below.

I met another group of Stanford students at the Mirador, so I walked partway down with them - headin back down to Campamiento Italiano, and then over to Refugio Cuernos...finally getting there around 7:00pm.  A long day, having started at 8:00am that morning. 

On the way to Cuernos, there was a tricky river crossing due to the extent of the water levels.  I couldnt even determine where the correct path was...do I cross here? There? Or do I go up stream a bit, and is there a bridge?  Or better rocks?  This was very wierd because every other place -- river, rockbed, dense forest -- the trail was clearly marked.  Here, it wasnt.  

Travelling alone, and nervous about crossing through the rushing water on my own, I decided to wait for another single or group of backpackers.

Taking a snooze on the "beach".
  Alone, one misstep and I would be washed down river...I at least wanted a witness, if not a rescuer.   

This is when I met Peter and Claire.  They were the first group to come by.  Together, we discussed where the trail might be - but could not find it.  So then we discussed where and how best to get across.  In the end, I basically threw my backpack across first, and then lept over boulders crossing the river.  Then I helped Peter and Claire across.  They threw their backpacks to me - one knocked me flat on my butt and I cut my shin.  Then he through her camera to me!  That was a bit scary - but I caught it!  Phew.  Don´t even want to imagine me dropping it.  =)

Along the way, there was also a nice stroll along the lake - except instead of sand the beach was made up of golf ball sized rocks.  I met a few germans there - Nikki, Hannah, and Jorg.  (I probably just brutalized the spelling of their names).

The Refugio Cuernos was pretty nice.  A welcome relief after a long day of walking.

 

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One of many bridge crossings.  You…
One of many bridge crossings. Yo…
The view I had as I lay on the roc…
The view I had as I lay on the ro…
Ooops forgot to rotate this one, b…
Ooops forgot to rotate this one, …
Taking a snooze on the beach.
Taking a snooze on the "beach".
Cooling off.
Cooling off.
Drinking like a dog straight from …
Drinking like a dog straight from…
Torres Del Paine
photo by: Vlindeke