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Torres del Paine - Day 2

Written on: Monday February 18th, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile 

Author: Julie 

Hola! 

With our having done the Torres hike the previous day, we had a full day of free time. We stayed at the lodge till 10 AM, waiting for check-out time. We had to move our stuff from the old lodge into our new room in the new lodge. Unknowingly, when I grabbed all of my stuff, I mistakenly forgot Kevin?s running shorts which I had been using as sleep shorts and a t-shirt in the room. I returned a couple of hours after having moved rooms, but the cleaning staff couldn?t find them. I know they didn?t just walk off by themselves so someone had to take them. Oh well, I still had one t-shirt with me that I could sleep in. 

We didn?t want to sit around the lodge all day, although it would have been easy to do since the new building was really nice with a couple of sunrooms with stuffed pillows and hammocks, as well there was a hot tub that could be rented by the half hour, but we had come to the park to explore it?s wonders. We decided to do a section of the trail used by Circuit trekkers that take them to the backcountry. We put back on our hiking clothes and boots and set off for an afternoon of pleasurable walking. We also brought along our box-lunches that were included in our room and board. There was a huge ham-and-cheese sandwich, an apple, an orange, a cereal bar, a juice, a small chocolate bar and a bottle of water. It was more than enough food for the two of us and brought most of it back with us at the end. The only thing that bothered me was the inclusion of the water bottle. We were in an area of the world known for having some of the most pristine drinking water, descended from the glaciers, unpolluted and filtered by the mountains, we could drink from any of the streams and rivers without fear of being sick, so there was no need for the plastic bottle to be included. It was only causing more plastic waste, in a beautiful park, in a country that had limited recycling incentives. We made sure to bring them back with us and to put them in the proper recycling bin with hopes that it wouldn?t be bagged and thrown in with the rest of the waste. Travelling through South America, we?ve been forced to drink bottled water in most places to avoid becoming sick. Unfortunately, this has caused us grief over the number of water bottles that we?ve had to throw away in the past 8 months. We?ve tried to buy the largest bottles and recycle the smaller, easy to transport ones by re-filling them before going out but it?s not enough. Certainly not in a continent where a bus ride can be shocking when all you see is trenches and fields littered in plastic. It certainly explains why the Pope has recently released a new set of commandments including one saying not to pollute. We?re sure it?s directed to the 3rd world countries where the culture has small to none environmental conscience. We would think twice before throwing a plastic bottle on the ground but it is done everyday here. People are not exposed to the thinking of ?What happens to that bottle once I throw it away??.  

At about 2 PM, we left the lodge and headed east, along the start of the backcountry trail. It was mostly flat, running alongside old farming fences. From the trail, we could see a view of the Torres spires, but they were mostly obscured by the clouds. We were quite happy to have done the trek the day before, as the weather looked cold and windy in the higher elevations. We entered a small forest, probably all that remained from the old days before the forests were originally cleared for farming. We were a little surprised when we encountered a large horse with a loose rope tired around his neck quietly grazing. The rope look to have been ripped, so he probably had made a break for it from his owners fields. We approached him and he was quite relaxed so we were able to stroke him a bit before he wandered off to find the next patch of grass. We walked for a couple of hours before turning around. There wasn?t much to see and it was just nice to stretch our legs after all the uphill we had walked the day before. 

We returned with a couple of hours to spare before supper so we found a couple of hammocks and spent our time swinging in the waning light and reading our books. On our way to supper, we ran into Vince, a dutch guy we had met in Huacachina, Peru and again in Uyuni, Bolivia. We took a few minutes to catch up with him to know where he and his girlfriend Nora had been since we had last seen them. They had rented motorcycles and travelled for a while before coming to Patagonia. There?s just so much to do in South America. He said he was staying in the green tent at the nearby campsite and to drop by later on. Supper was a quiet affair this evening with a lot less people than the night before. There was still light outside so we decided to go for a quick walk and see if we could find them. In the evening, the nearby horse farm lets its horses out to graze the flat campsite field, beside the lodge, after a hard day of running up and day the trails delivering goods between campsites and lodges. There was a beautiful red sunset and all these horses grazing quietly with the sound of the river tinkling in the background. It was a beautiful moment. Unfortunately, there were so many green tents in the campground, we never managed to find our friends.