Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Torres Del Paine, at last!

March 27, Sunday
This was a long, full day. We got up early, just after 6 a.m. and had the usual hostel breakfast: Nescafé, a round flat bun with marmalade and yogurt. The bus to Torres del Paine picked us up at 7:20, and then stopped at other hostels to pick up passengers. The ride to the park took about two hours.

There is an entry fee of $30 USD to visit the park, paid at the entrance. The bus then drove us on to the second stop where we waited for the catamaran, which for $22 each took us over Lake Peho to the Peho refugio and camp. This is our view of Los Cuernos from the catamaran.

We had a bit of lunch there, used the washrooms, and were ready to begin our hike. We had been warned in a good talk on what to expect in the park, given at the
Erratic Rock hostel in Puerto Natales that
some of the refugios in the park were already closed for the season, and that means no washrooms would be available at those locations. So just before I went to the "Ladies" D.S. said, "Steal toilet paper!" I wound a large wad into both pockets in my jacket, and the lump is noticeable on my right side. It was very good advice, and the t.p. came in handy for the next several days.

The hike to Italian Camp took us about 3 1/2
hours, quite a bit longer than listed on the
map. We didn't hurry, but took time to enjoy the scenery along the way.

An older couple, about my age, were hiking in the opposite direction. After they had passed, D.S. said to me, "You're not the only old geezer on the trail!" A middle-aged woman coming along behind them said to us, "How old do you think they are?" I said, "About my age, 70." And she replied, "He's 74, and she's just 70. This is her birthday present." It was their daughter.

The views along the trail were spectacular, and the weather was beautiful. It was windy, and not warm, but excellent for hiking and viewing.

The trail was worn into the soil about 6" deep in many places. There were some elevation changes but this was not a challenging hike. Nevertheless, by the time we reached this bridge, I was really ready to say that I'd had enough for the day.

This swaying bridge had a sign on either end,
"Only Two People on the Bridge at any time." It wasn't scary though, as it had protective "chicken wire" fencing along the sides.

Across the Frances River on this bridge lay the Italian Camp. There were no services here at all, and no electricity. Campfires were not permitted in the campgrounds when we were there. We found a place to pitch our tent, cooked up some pasta, added
some canned fish and a little cheese, and
that was supper, with some yogurt for dessert.

We had a visitor soon after supper, this good looking fox. He was evidently a regular visitor, checking for scraps or handouts, and seemed quite at home.

D.S. had two handy lamps that fastened onto our heads by a stretchy band. With that light we worked a crossword puzzle, and then turned off the lights and simply sat in the dark enjoying the peaceful evening. I'm greatly comforted by the knowledge that this park does not have bears. Later we climb into our sleeping bags thinking we'd had a very good day, our first in Torres Del Paine National Park.

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