Gone With The Wind
Torres Del Paine Travel Blog› entry 115 of 123 › view all entries
DAY ONE (Getting there and Grey Glacier)
I had high expectations for Torres del Paine, following Rusty's talk at the hostel the day before I left. I didn't sleep very well the night before as I knew I had made a mistake with my refugio booking, which meant the itinerary I had planned wouldn't work in the 3 days I planned. Most people do the 'W' circuit which takes about 5 days, but I'm short on time and I don't like camping much, so i opted for a shorter trip, hoping to fit the main sights in. Carla wasn't around in the morning, so I left a message for her with Bill to try and change my booking and to let me know by contacting the Paine Grande refugio.
After Bill's great breakfast I was feeling better and got on my only-one-third-full bus to the park (an unbelievable CLP15,000/£20/$30 return to go only 100-odd km and back) at 7.
We got to the other side safely enough in the end and right by the shore is the Paine Grande camp. It has a magnificent setting, with the Torres range in the background and the turquoise Lago Pehue in front. Just a shame that the people who run this site are complete arses. I tried to check in and somehow they couldn't find my booking, basically telling me that I didn't have a reservation. I gave them my confirmation slip, but still they were confused, so I stood around waiting for 20 minutes whilst various radio calls were made. It was exactly what I didn't need, given I needed to actually tell them that I wanted to cancel the second night of my reservation anyway.
I met Tyson and Kerry and we embarked on a trek up to Grey Glacier. Its about 3 hours from Paine Grande, and even though it was already 1.30pm, the light meant we should have plenty of time to get up there and back. we set off with strong wind making it pretty damn difficult to walk at all. That was nothing, however, as we turned round one headland and Kerry get floored by a gust of wind that was like a shot to gut - I have never felt wind like it! Its not just the strength, its the unpredictability of it - one minute pushing you back, then it stops completely and you overbalance in a comical way that makes you look like you don't know how to walk...bizarre! The trek was 11km each way and there was a fantastic mirador half way where we stopped for photos - the glacier was straight ahead in the distance and shrowded in cloud - a whole lot of white! we could barely stand and take photos it was so windy, we had to anchor ourselves to bushes and the like to ensure we weren't blown away down the valley!
We arrived at Grey Glacier and got the views close up of the enormous ice sheet.
DAY TWO (Valle Frances)
One good thing about refugio Paine Grande is the beds - they are bloody comfortable I have to say.
I knew that i couldn't get back on the catamarran & bus to Puerto Natales until the afternoon, so I decided to head out trekking anyway and see Valle Frances, which was meant to be the best part of the whole park. I have to say I was disappointed. I was expecting some massive valley to open up and be a wonderous sight, but it was really just some nice pine trees and a snow covered mountain (which was mostly obscured) - I really couldn't see what the fuss was all about. Perhaps I was missing something obvious! So I trekked the 2 hours back to Paine Grande, and luckily the weather cleared up, meaning the views of the 'horns' of the Torres range were clearly in view - fantastic. On the walk back I had decided I'd had enough of Torres with all the crappy weather, sh*t service and expensive prices, so I decided to head back to P/N. I checked out of the refugio (ensuring Inge knew I was going so they couldn't claim I had used the second night!) and went to get the 12.30pm catamarran. well, that was the plan until it was cancelled due to high wind. They eventually made it out at 3pm, but we had been told on the way that there would not be a bus to meet us - usually, buses connect with all the catamarrans and for each crossing there are about 4 different bus companies. The fact that all of them decided not to wait was completely senseless and just typical of the lack of logic and intelligence of some people making decisions on this continent. why didn't two buses go back to P/N on their original schedule and leave two to wait for the 80 passengers on the catamarran?? No that would have been sensible. Instead, we all had to wait around for 4 hours until the last buses of the day left at 7.30pm....brilliant, it had just beenn that kind of trip for me and I couldn't wait to just get out there and away! We eventually got back to Puerto Natales at about 10pm and luckily Bill had a bed for me at Erratic Rock - I crashed out straight away, knackered!