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Torres del Paine - Day 4

Written on: Wednesday February 20th, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Author: Julie


We had a good sleep last night despite the wind howling outside. It had subsided to a tolerable level by the early morning hours. We had a great breakfast of eggs, porridge, bread, tea and juice before heading out on the longest day of our trek. The plan for the day was to leave Refugio Cuernos, head up Valle Frances, back down again, and then hoof it all the way to Lodge Paine Grande. It would be a long nine hour day.

The first couple of hours were similar in terrain and degree of difficulty as yesterday, except with the wind not trying to throw us our feet. We soon crossed down into a valley, into a small forest and arrived at the Refugio Italiano. We knew that we would be retracing our steps out of the valley in a few hours so we dropped our bags beside dozens of others leaning against the rangers hut. Why carry it up and down when it?s not needed? It took us an hour to get to the first look-out, overlooking Shark?s Tooth Mountain to our left. We sat down and had our lunch while listening to the small glacier crack under the heat of the sun. The occasional small block would fall but nothing impressive enough to illicit oohs and aahs from those of us watching. A constant tinkling of running water could be heard, the ice slowly melting away and forming little streams of glacial water.

From the first look-out, the trail continued up to the cirque of peaks at the end of the valley. The walk took us higher and higher, through a long patch of forest with a clear river running through it, till we popped out to the flat area below the bowl filled with rocks that had tumbled down. The sun was warm and we were protected from the winds in this area. We spent a half hour there enjoying the warmth and the quiet. In the time we were there, we only saw two more people, heading to the basic campsite of Campamento Britannico higher up the valley.

It was 2 o?clock and we had two hours to get down the valley. We quickly descended and grabbed our bags to continue on and out of the valle Frances. The next two hours was a long slog for me. I was tired and my feet were starting to hurt, I would have needed a good dose of chocolate to revive my spirits. I hadn?t developed blisters but the bottoms of my feet were aching fiercely. Kevin offered to carry my camera bag which relieved the weight enough for me to continue on. We reached a section of the trial that was in a fragile area with section of boardwalks running for a few kilometres to prevent damage to the local ecosystem. Although the area was delicate, there were quite a few pack horses running up and down the trail, carrying supplies between the refugios, campsites and range huts. We crested a small hill and I was greeted with the sight of a lago Pehoe to the left and the lodge to the right at its shoreline. It was a very happy moment for me. It brought a much needed pep to my feet and we made good time crossing the flat plain beside the lake.

The lodge was a beautiful place located on the edge of Lago Pehoe. The two story building had been built a few years earlier and each room had a large lake-facing window with 3 bunks beds and storage bins for the stinky clothes. A few lounges were scattered on the two floored building with comfy seats and wood stoves. They were lit each night at 5 PM, a much appreciated area for those arriving cold and damp from a long day on the trail. Supper at the huge cafeteria style dining room was started with a hot tomato soup, then on to a large mound of potatoes topped with roast beef stuffed with sausage, drowned in brown gravy with a side of cucumber salad, finishing with orange jello dessert. Yes, we were definitely roughing it.