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TORRES DEL PAINE: PART I

Emily Forsythe

we awoke early the next morning to head to torres del paine and our plan was to leave laguna sofia and then cook breakfast at the base of the mountain before we made the hike up.

the drive towards the park was about an hour and a half away and was incredible because we were able to see the contrast of the cotton candy colored sunrise against the jagged, snow-filled peaks. we eventually reached the entrance to the park and the views became all the more vivid with each turn.

after a few conversations with park rangers we had a loose plan of how many days we were planning to spend in the park. we definitely had our hearts set on climbing up to los torres the first day (i.e. these are the peaks that the national park is most known for). the other 2 days were a bit up in the air, but we figured we would get the best direction from talking to fellow hikers along the way on what sites are supposed to not be missed!!

we parked our beloved van, ché in the parking lot of a gorgeous hotel that is typically only open in the summer months (oct.-jan.). we got out of the van to whip up some eggs atop of the potatoes i had made with dinner the night before and a bit of coffee to fuel up for our 8+ hour hike. then we put our gear on to head up the mountain. we had a bit later start than we had originally planned, but it was okay by us because we felt confident in our agility. :) i am not really sure what made us so confident because neither one of us had really been working out regularly before our trip. jared had only run a few times before we left and i was only doing hot yoga a few times a week.

the jaunt to los torres was a bit of hike, definitely more than we bargained for but it was more than worth it!! we were about 45 minutes from the top when we came across some newlyweds from DC. the wife was struggling a bit with the altitude and had low blood sugar so she was taking a break. a doctor who came up after the couple had given her a dulce (i.e. candy) to jumpstart her blood sugar and help her reach the top. we stayed while she felt a bit better, chatted them up and found out that they were on their honeymoon. once the sugar started kicking in, we all started our final climb to the top!

it certainly seemed like it was a neverending mound of rocks and boulders to hike over, but we finally reached a turn, then a small hill and had a full view of the torres and it was fantastic!! after taking an obnoxious amount of photos, climbing up and down the boulders to get different views and snagging just one more photo, we decided to make our way down.

at the very end, we started to chat with a nice aussie, who had been traveling for 9 months or so and was hiking the ‘W trek’ by herself. side note: the W trek is a popular 55km hike where trekkers hike up to three significant sites and hike down to camp or stay at refugios along the way, naturallty forming the shape of a ‘W’. (see trekking map below) 

since we were in our car, we had decided to do more of an “I” and a “U”: up to the torres and back down, sleep in our car at the base, drive over to the catamaran, take it across lago pehoé and over to a refugio or hostel and stay the night (bonus: with a hot shower!!). then we would hike up to francés or britanicó peak in one day, spend another night and hike up to glacier grey the second day before we caught the catamaran back.

W trek map.png

it certainly seemed like it was a neverending mound of rocks and boulders to hike over, but we finally reached a turn, then a small hill and had a full view of the torres and it was fantastic!! after taking an obnoxious amount of photos, climbing up and down the boulders to get different views and snagging just one more photo, we decided to make our way down.

at the very end, we started to chat with a nice aussie, who had been traveling for 9 months or so and was hiking the ‘W trek’ by herself. side note: the W trek is a popular 55km hike where trekkers hike up to three significant sites and hike down to camp or stay at refugios along the way, naturallty forming the shape of a ‘W’. (see trekking map below) 

since we were in our car, we had decided to do more of an “I” and a “U”: up to the torres and back down, sleep in our car at the base, drive over to the catamaran, take it across lago pehoé and over to a refugio or hostel and stay the night (bonus: with a hot shower!!). then we would hike up to francés or britanicó peak in one day, spend another night and hike up to glacier grey the second day before we caught the catamaran back.

we hobbled over to the refugio at the base that was open to check and see if we were able to snag a reservation at the refugio we wanted to stay in on the other side of the park. while in the lobby and café, we ended up running into the two 'hungover frat boys’ that had been on our flight from santiago and started chatting with them and ashli and jessica, two others from the states.

over a bottle of wine or two, we shared our experiences thus far. the guys, matt and wilson were far from fratty, just two friends who were a great traveling pair with a comedic sense of brotherhood between one other. the girls had grown up together; one lived in denver, the other in NYC and they also shared a love of traveling and the outdoors.

after conversations with the group, jared and i were very curious as to what went down on the guys last night out in santiago that left them so hungover on the plane. we finally pulled the infamous story out of them (and it was a good one!), but have been sworn to secrecy to not reveal their wild night out; we cannot break our circle of trust! ;)

we all turned in a bit early that night because we all had long days ahead of us. jared and i scrapped our plans to whip up a delicious stir fry meal with our leftover pork and decided to just eat it cold out of the tupperware with some bread. (no glamping here! ha.) and we headed to bed.