Thursday, December 15, 2011
Torres Del Paine - The Mirador Trail
The Colombia, Marmot and North Face shops are a bit overpriced and yes, you can get it back home cheaper. I just ponied up $40 for a really good pair of water resistance gloves for my journey to Antarctica. I am happy about the purchase but reluctantly went to the MEC website for a comparison. About $10 over prices. Meh! my gloves are cool and they go very well with my overpriced waterproof Doite jacket I bought in Santiago!
The bus ride was expensive at $30 and the park entrance grabbed another $30. The bus dropped you off at the ranger station where shuttle busses waited to take you the 7 km to the trailed. That will be another $5 amigo. These guys must have Disney Training.
There were buses coming and going in a fits of fury. Daze yet excited people getting off in starry eyed panic then like zombies walking to the baggage hold of the bus. There they put on thier packs and just stood around with the "Well I'm here, not what" body lanuage. Most if not all were geared up for the 5 day W trek. You could tell the veterans, thier packs small and well packed. The rookies, some with thier packs that tower 2 feet above thier heads look like they were loaded for a 1 month expedition. They needed help to loaded up then power wobbled as they walked. They were in a bit of trouble. The W is a serious trek and being over prepared with to much a heavy pack will kill that dream in a hurry. It did not take long for me to find a few younger people stopped with thier pack on the trail, maybe 45 minutes in already exhausted. I checked to make sure they were ok, and moved along.
At first I was a salmom swimming upstream. Exhausted looking people who wereproably on the W passed me going down and there were alot of them. Hola, Hola, Hola could be heard echoing through the canyons. The trail then rose up and became sandy and dusty. When I reached the top after about 30 minutes I entered an area that was brilliant green with wooded forests. I walked down and found myself winding in and out of the forest that provided much needed shade.
Mother Patagonia was showing another side of herself today, sunny and freaking hot. I was good food and drink wise. 1.5L of water, 1 litre of apple juice, assorted fruit, chocolate of course and a big tuna sandwich. Water was not an issue as you could drink from the streams. Yes sir, put your bottle in the river and fill er up! It was cold and clean. When was the last time you drank straight from a stream? On my first fill up I had that run through my head. Once in Algonquin many years ago.
I left the camp and the trail went back into the woods. It then went uphill and kept going uphill. A muddy wet wood trail that we all know and love. Breaking into a clearing the trail levelled out the views (broken record) were crazy beautiful. I went crazy with the Panasonic and was enjoying myself, but that joy was not long lasting. I started to walk and a new bend in trail brought new excitement, scree. We All Love Walking On Scree. The drops to the right became a bit extreme with the river below adding a great blue to the greys and greens. I found various spots to challange my vertigo and had no problems. Marked with bright orange metal poles it was pretty hard to tet lost, but our hero did and more than once. What is up with that!!
It was fun, climbing up using your hands when needed. It was also really interesting to stop, look up and around and see all the colors of my fellow hikers in various stages of ascent.
At one point I had to stop. While I was gasping for air and making love to my water bottle and German or Dutch dude and his wife of about 70 blew by me with a hello and not a bead of sweat. This was not the hardest trek I have ever done but it was the most diverse. If I am getting dusted by 70 year olds there had better be a pole dancers, talking llamas or something pretty freaking spectacular at the top.
I found myself traversing more horizontal than vertical and the trail show no real signs of peaking. It was then that a few people passed me going down with big shit eating grins on thier faces. "Ten more minutes and its amazing" they said. Energized I climbed around a huge boulder and up the trail went. You could see the Torres peaking over a rise just up a head. The Mirador! Up I went and as I climbed over a boulder that had no right being there I stopped. There it was in living color. The Torre Del Paine. Beautiful greys changing shades in the sun against a deep blue sky with just a hint of cloud. In front a milky green glacial lagoon being fed by the waterfalls running off the glacier in front of the Torres that were hued in whites and blues. All this surrounded by the boulders and sand dunes of the mountain giving the area not only color but texture. (Good lord, when did I become an art affictionado..colors and textures?)
Walking down the boulders proved tricky but it was slow and steady. After that the uphills did not seem so bad. Remember most trails are not all one way, there are rolls so its possible to have to go uphill in order to get downhill, and vice verca.
I got to the refugio, buried my head and filled my bottle in the stream and continued.
I dont have issues walking uphill. I mean you have the breathing and thirst but that is easliy managed. I find that I do get sore knees when coming down any trail. Not "sore I cant move any longer" sore, but sore "holy crap I have to start using trekking poles" sore. So its off to the sports store for me before my next climb.
I got to the bottom easy enough, passed other trekkers asking me for directions (look at the big sign to your right that says Mirador Trail dude..no I was not rude) and now had the 7 km to go. It was mostly on the road back so if need be I could have gotten a ride. My knees were talking to my feet asking "what is up with this guy anyway"? I did it in about 90 minutes but I was spent. I had about 45 minutes to kill so I just chilled and watch this Guanaco. There were a few people hanging around and I had a short talk with a guy who had just come back from Antartica. "Better than anything you have been imagining" was what he said.
The 2 hour bus ride back was with Bob Segar on the Ipod as the Torres stood strong behind me, as they have done for millenium...Like A Rock (yeah, you were thinking it)