I’ve been looking forward to hiking in world-famous Torres Del Paine National Park since the beginning of this adventure, and I’m excited to arrive in the little town of Puerto Natales where I attend a backpackers’ information session and stock up on hiking food & supplies.
Early the next morning I drive into the park and leave the Jeep at Hotel Las Torres before setting out counter-clockwise, taking enough supplies to complete the full circuit in eight days / seven nights.
A beautiful sunny morning through green forest sees me arrive at Camping Setón at about lunch time, and I decide to push on to Refugio Dickson, a stretch where I encounter some extremely strong winds and amazing sunshine while skirting around the mountains.
I arrive at Dickson a little footsore around 7pm after a long 28km on the trail for day one and am pleasantly surprised by the hot shower in the pay-only campsite. The plague of thirsty mosquitos is not so nice.
I lazily amble out of camp at 10am on day two, hiking through beautiful dense forest for the 9km around to Campamento Los Perros (another pay site), near a little glacier of the same name. I really have no idea what to expect on the “back side” and have been a little surprised by the remoteness and lack of people – I had been warned of many hundreds per day, and have only seen a handful on the trails, and about 30 tents at night in the campgrounds.
In the morning I’m moving early with some friends from the previous night and we make good time up and over Paso John Gardner, the high point and hardest section of the trail. At the summit I’m dumbfounded by the unimaginably immense Grey Glacier, extending the width and length of the entire valley, looking more like an enormous lake than a glacier. Hiking alongside Grey for the remainder of the afternoon provides some stunning views and great rest-stops.
I cook hot noodles at Campamento Paso before pushing on to the beautiful (and free) Campamento Los Guardas for a total of 18km for day three. Sitting above the glacier at the lookout is surreal, and although we hear plenty of activity, we don’t see a sizable chunk break off.
There’s a lot more to come on this one…