And ends with a hike???
After a very relaxed day yesterday cruising around the fjords and seeing two additional Chilean glaciers, I decided to sign up for the Torres del Paine towers walk. Craig was not feeling well and chose to stay in the hotel and catchup with some work.
I was collected at 7:15am and upon entering the minibus, was a little concerned as all the other passengers were sub 30 years! Even though I had done the Kumano Kudo (well, parts of it anyway) I had been indulging a little more since then and wasn’t too sure of my fitness levels That said I was determined to see those bloody towers!
It takes two hours to drive from Puerto Natales to the entrance of the park and after all the formalities and pit stops, we were ready to commence our walk around 10am. Looking at a few of the participants, I wasn’t sure that they really knew what they were in for! I knew, after speaking to a girl on the cruise yesterday, that it can get really windy and icy up there, and one couple certainly didn’t look decked out in the right gear to be walking in the snow!
One kilometre into our walk and we saw a puma! It was sitting on the side of a hill, surveying the surrounds, no doubt looking for a guanaco for lunch. Unfortunately, I don’t have a long lens, but you get the idea from the photo.
I knew this hike was long and hard but what I hadn’t anticipated was the scrambling over granite boulders, walking through water, hiking across the periphery of a mountain and crossing foot bridges that needed more slats! Add to this many people going in both directions, all trying to get down the same trodden route; I now know what it must have been like trying to assent Mt Everest at the height of the season.
We had two guides, Eduardo and Joe (Joe with a Chilean Mum and a Taiwanese Dad) and Eduardo led the charge up and Joe the downward journey. I walked up some of the way with Joe and I swear he never broke a sweat. Kept his hands in his pockets the whole way (I was using poles to hoik myself up) and I am sure his heart rate didn’t get beyond 70 bpm!!!
After four hours, and light snow falling for the last hour, I finally made it to the top! I was then informed I had 40 minutes to do what I had to do (aka eat lunch and take pictures) before heading back the same way for another 4 hours!
I have to say, I was disappointed I couldn’t stay longer and take more pictures – by the way, I spent all of 30 seconds eating. That said, it was now 2:10pm and even though it doesn’t get “dark” until 9:30pm (it never gets totally dark in this part of the world) the guides needed to get back too.
At 2:45pm, we started out decent and arrived back at the carpark at 6:55pm. The last hour was really hard as I’m sure the anti-inflammatories were starting to wear off. As soon as we reach the bottom, I reached for two Panadol!
All up, I hiked 25km, it took 8 hours of constant hiking and I climbed approximately 1000 vertical metres - equivalent to 310 flights of stairs, so I am told.
I got back to the hotel at 8:50pm, having had multiple “kips” on the way – I just couldn’t stay awake! I was tired and mildly sore but had a great sense of achievement; I not only kept up but was one of the first back down (once moving, I couldn’t risk stopping). I was obviously fitter than I thought, as evidenced by the high fives given by Eduardo and Joe and realised that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.
So, the moral of the story, if my plane goes down in the Andes (see the movie “Alive”) don’t expect to be eating me… even if I look the juiciest!!!