Torres del Paine

About half way through the Tour of San Luis Brian, Casey, and I decided to extend our trip to South America and check out some of Patagonia. This turned out to be a very good choice.

From San Luis we caught a ride to Mendoza, Argentina and then flew south to Punta Arenas. That's where the Volkswagen golf we rented turned out to be a bit bigger, and much better, than anticipated.

Brian "touching" the toe on the Magellan monument in the central square, Punta Arenas.

A lot of Patagonia is very beautiful. Some is not. The drive from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, the closest town to Torres del Paine national park, was not that scenic.

Since we didn't plan on this before heading to South America, we spent our first day in Patagonia shopping. One of the shops in Puerto Natales also featured this sleeping dog. He wasn't going anywhere.

Shopping done. We made our plan.

Got some appropriate local cuisine to fuel our future efforts.

and briefly considered adopting a dog.

 

Then it was into the park.

Brian's first backpacking trip. Not a bad one for your first.

and that is where we are headed.

The water here comes straight from the snow pack or glaciers. Some ice may be left over. That being said, it is supposed to be some of the freshest in the world. No purification required.

Into the hills we go.

Camping the first night. The front part of the trail (the W) is very accessible and popular. We were not by any means alone in the wilderness.

Devices galore charging inside the cooking area. This is how you turn one gun into five guns.

Good times had around the dinner table.

Our first suspension bridge.

View from the top. This is about 7 km above the bridge. One of two places where you hike up the hill a ways to look at stuff on this section.

I know that bridge is down there somewhere. Just can't quite see it.

Woodpecker!

Hare!

Flower!

And more suspension bridge.

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Somewhat ironically the park rangers' cartoon representation is an invasive species.

Day 4 started very early. The second big viewpoint is the rock towers which gave the park it's name. Ideally you see them at sunrise. However when you're far south in the middle of summer that means getting up at 330 to make it to the top in the dark. The above is a shot up the hill of the headlamps in front of us.

The rocks at 5am or so. Before it got light you could see the headlamp of a climber about athird of the way up the middle tower. I suspect he had the best view.

Spirits were still high midway through day 4. Aside from getting up early we also hiked into the evening. The long push allowed us to cut a full day off of our original plan.

Day 5 we headed over John Gardner pass. It's by far the highest point on the trail, about 4000 feet, requiring a steep ascent and steeper descent. Approximate location of pass indicated in photo.

View from the top. You can just see the Grey glacier in the background. We left a little souvenir behind at the top.

Better shot of the Grey glacier from the start of the decent.

Longest and highest bridge of the trip. it sits about 200 feet off of the river below. Very cool, slightly wobbly.

Grey glacier with Lago Grey in the foreground.

Waiting for the ferry out of the park. Energy levels were pretty low.