|Distance:||20,5 km (12,7 miles)|
|Route:||Campamento Italiano to Refugio Chileno|
Today was my hardest day. I was up really early, had a quick breakfast, packed up my tent and was on the trail by 6:00. It was a nice, cool morning and I really enjoyed that. My feet were giving me a little pain, as another toenail popped up and broke free of the skin. I made pretty good time as I arrived at Refugio Los Cuernos after about 2 hour 30 minutes. I stopped here and refilled my water bottle and had a quick snack and then was back on the trail. The first part out of Los Cuernos is up, up, up; but then again, there was quite a bit of up this time. I passed very few people in either direction until about 2 hours out of Los Cuernos when I met an older gentleman who was backtracking looking for a sweatshirt he had lost. I did see it, about 30 minutes back. There were quite a few river crossings this time, though they were low enough that you can hop from rock to rock. The scenery was really nice, though the temperature started to heat up. Though there was quite a bit of up, there was also more going down, which was sometimes easier for me to deal with with my feet. Soon I came to the shortcut and turned onto it. A group of people I had been walking just a head of headed off in the other direction towards the route to Hosteria Las Torres. The shortcut was a nice trail, it was quite a bit of "flat" walking, which was nice. Soon, with the pain in my feet from the blisters and the heat, I lost track of my surroundings. I stayed on the trail but each step almost brought tears to my eyes. Along the way I had met an American duo and asked them how much further, they said about an hour -- though their hour was not correct, it was actually 2 hours. This bit of knowledge at first brought me into a faster pace, but soon the heat and the pack was bringing me back down. Finally, I made the final ascent and saw the Refugio Chileno in the distance. A couple hundred meters more and the trail from Hosteria Las Torres met up and soon the trail was very busy with day hikers. I remember looking in the opposite direction and seeing how much of a climb it is up to the top of the trail and thought to myself how glad I was that I had done the route I had done. Around 1:00, about 7 hours after I started I arrived at Refugio Chileno I decided I would go no further and setup my tent. This was the most expensive Refugio to setup camp at, CL$5,000. I laid around the rest of the day, took some anti-inflamatory medications and just relaxed. I reflected on what I had done so far and was quite pleased with myself. Though I don't think I took a lot of pictures this section of the trail. I probably could have made the hike up to Las Torres, but I thought it would be a better day for tomorrow. Up until this point the weather had been clear skies and excellent conditions.
|Distance:||15,3 km (10 miles)|
|Elevation Change:||600 meters (1969 feet)|
|Route:||Refugio Chileno to Las Torres to Hosteria Las Torres|
This morning I had set my alarm for 4:30 and was on the trail really early. As I made my way along the trail, my feet felt really quite OK considering. I made it to the base of the high climb with relatively good time (about 45 minutes or so). Unfortunately, and I knew this was going to happen, the sunrise, a beautiful blood orange/red color struck the area around the towers, but I was not all the way up. It was from a distance, through the forest, beautiful. (Note: Later talking with people who had made the climb for the sunrise, were disappointed that the Torres were not actually light up, rather the stones further to the side). Then it was up, up, up. Fortunately it was not straight up and you had opportunities to walk short distances here and there before ascending again. As I was ascending the clouds moved in and it started to rain and was a bit windy. After about 50 minutes I made it to the Mirador and gazed upon such a wonderful sight. There were 4 people standing at the Mirador sign taking photos, but no one else to be seen. The people who had climbed for the sunrise had gone down quite soon thereafter as the weather was not very nice looking. I decided that I had made such a wonderful climb, I was going to enjoy it for a while. So I scrambled down the big huge boulders to the floor of this hidden gem and walked down to the lake. Such a beautiful greenish color, amazing. The wind was horribly strong and it was relatively cold. I found shelter a good distance back and made some nice photos and then just sat on a boulder, stretched out and just gazed upon the sight and reflected on this journey. Thankful I had chosen to do it and ecstatic that I had completed the journey. After about 30 minutes, something happened that I did not think would actually happen. The clouds parted way and the sun shown upon the Torres, making the most beautiful sight. It actually brought tears to my eyes... or maybe that was the pain in my feet?
After about 1 hour 40 minutes I began to head back down. I needed to make sure I gave myself plenty of time to make it back to the Refugio, take down my tent and hike to Hosteria Las Torres to catch the bus back to Puerto Natales. I of course met some Dutch (Femke & Ron), we're every where, and we hiked down together. We talked quite a bit about travels and it was great. We made it back to Refugio Chileno and I packed up and began the hike down.
I will say this, I was once again very glad I had chosen to hike from West to East. If you are thinking about doing this hike, I would say that the hike down was very steep but to walk UP from Hosteria Las Torres to Refugio Chileno and then on to Mirador Las Torres, could be consider suicide. I remember thinking how many people actually make it and how many people turn around. Soon after my thoughts were confirmed. As a father and his two kids soon passed me (of course its easy to hike when you don't have a 30kg / 65-lb pack on your back) passed me heading back down. I will say it was a nice hike down and soon I made it to the floor of the valley and arrived at the Hosteria where I waited with the rest of the hikers for the minibuses (CL$2,000-3,000) to take us back to the Laguna Amarga entrance, and then the bus back to Puerto Natales (included in original bus ticket).