Torres del Paine National Park: Day 1 to 3

Every trail in the world keeps attracting visitors because of that one landmark that made its reputation in the first place. For all but us, the Torres Del Paine was worth every drop of sweat for the view of the actual “torres” (towers), those sharp edged peaks that truly deserve their place in every adventure movie. Think ‘Lords of the Rings’ kind of scenery. So of course, we decided to go off the beaten track instead.

The big hit in the Torres del Paine is the ‘W’ trail, basically going from the start of the purple line to the end of green one. Some people choose to walk both ways, some choose to pay an exorbitant price for a boat crossing the Lake Nordenskjöld (I know, so much for typical Chilean name) not to have to walk back and forth the exact same route. Usually done in 4 days, this option includes plenty to see but also plenty of people. Which is why we went for the backside instead, going from the start of the orange line to the end of the green one. Our big landmark awaiting? Only the world’s third biggest ice field. If you do get a peak at its edge from the Grey campsite on the ‘W’ track, the back route takes you to a special view point overlooking kilometres of ice. Mostly chosen by people trekking for 9 days around the entire ‘O’ trail, this back route promises what every good traveller wants: the gorgeous views without the people blocking it. And peps, THAT was worth every drop of sweat.

We knew we were off to an easy start. Well, not easy but the toughest point of our particular route, the John Gardner pass (which we had been dreading for days in advance) wasn’t until half way through. We basically had to smash an easy 50 kms before reaching not even the pass, but the campsite at its bottom. May I remind you we had never trekked a day in our life? At least, we were full on ready as you can read here.

I promised that I’ll tell stories as your friend, so what better way to hear about my experience there than peaking at excerpts of the travel diary I kept while on the trail? (I’ll spare you meteorologic details, deep thoughts and how antisocial we were being, you’re in just for the good stuff)

Day 1 – Entrance to Seron campsite

16kms. Estimated 4h30, smashed in 4 hours

“Went quite well for a first day, the backpacks are super heavy because of all the food we’re carrying but it’ll get lighter with the days. We walked mainly by lakes and rivers today, uphill a bit, through endless valleys a lot so at least it wasn’t too hard on the legs straight away. The views were amazing though, we had a good look from the distance at the towers everybody talks about, so at least we’ve seen them somehow and we saw emerald coloured lagoons as well! Thanks to that we almost didn’t feel the long walk, like our legs ached a bit but the panoramas made up for it. Except when we had to walk against the wind, I thought of every clothing advices I had heard before trekking but f*** it, I had both fleece AND windbreaker on for like 30 minutes.”

Tip: Set your tent straight when you get to campsite. You’ll be cold, lazy and tired but no excuses. Your body is still warm from the physical effort so don’t wait until it seriously cools down and every movement becomes torture.

First snowy peaks in the distance, a view breathtaking enough to keep us going for 20 more kms

Day 2 – Seron to Dickson campsite

19kms. Estimated 7hours, smashed in 6 hours

The landscapes were getting better and better honestly, looked a lot more like what we’d been expecting from the Patagonia we saw in documentaries and pictures . We saw our first snowy peaks and glaciers ! Glaciers everywhere ! I swear that was the excitement that kept me going after the hell of a freezing night I had. It’s amazing to see amazing things in the distance and head straight towards it, just wondering how it’s gonna look once closer. The glaciers were the best part, the kind of things that made us proper stop, take in the moment and just think about where in the world we actually were. We barely saw anyone all day as well, felt proper lost in the wild which is what we wanted to get out of it so just perfect”

Tip: Get your trekking playlist ready with upbeat tracks. Whenever I could see myself getting annoyed at walking, I’d put on a song I love and pace my steps to the beats of it, dancing around definitely helps trekking faster somehow

Even the colour scheme  at Dickson shows how dangerously closer we are getting to glaciers

Day 3: Dickson to Perros campsite

11 kms. Estimated time 4h30,  smashed in 3h30.

“Just over half of what we usually walk but it felt like forever and made it the toughest day so far. Most of it was in the forests so no open views at cool things to look forward to and no change of scenery in a long time. My bag felt twice heavier than yesterday as well, I think my body is starting to feel the backlash of the past two days’ efforts. But at the end of today at least something incredible and so unexpected awaited: another glacier but right there, not in the distance anymore. There was only a small lake separating us from it so I guess no open views can be worth it in that case. The colours were the best, it was a mix between super white and light turquoise blue, although it didn’t look half as good on pictures and we couldn’t stay for too long because the wind was so strong we had to use our little energy left not to get blown away. At least, it gives us a preview of what’s expecting us tomorrow with the big uphill hike to the pass”

Tip: Always keep your spirits up, the more you’re down and annoyed, the longer the walk will feel. Tell yourself it’s too late to turn back anyway so you might as well smash it and make it to your ‘bed’ as soon as you can. Having a travel buddy helps to get some conversation going and take your mind off the pain for a moment.

Surprise surprise, a glacier at the end of the day of never-ending forest trekking

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