We concluded our nine day trek through Torres del Paine National Park with an 6 am start to get up to the Towers of Paine before the crowds arrived. The hike was 12 miles round trip with 3,900’ of elevation gain. Once at the towers we had cold wind, mostly clear skies for some good pictures. We saw a condor soaring around the cirque, we saw social media influencers doing acrobatic yoga, we saw someone fall into the glacial lake from trying to pose like an influencer and most of all we capped off a great trip with a nice brisk hike. The trio self named the “base layer boys” lead the charge up with our Chilean guide Fernando and once back at the hostel we packed up and are now back in Puerto Natales for the night. A few hour drive to Punta Arenas tomorrow morning and this fun trip will be done. We laughed a lot, ate great food, took lots of pictures and have some sore legs and feet. Guess that’s the price you pay to be in such an amazing location. We are going to celebrate with one last pizza dinner before the group disperses tomorrow. Thanks for following along.
We finished our last day of hiking with the big packs. Last night was a windy and wet night down near Lago Nordenskjold. The Dones flexed, the tents shook and the trees thrashed about. For an area so infamous for stormy weather our team has lucked out. We hung out at the Refugio until the rain stopped and sunshine appeared. The winds would stay with us all day as we walked 14 km to Refugio Torre Central. The trail was a running creek at times and aside from some rocky bluffs to walk up and descend we cruised in just as the rain started back again. There is a lot of new snow up high and aside from watching some harriers play in the gusting wind the coolest views were the white caps and walls of wind blown spray moving like clouds across the lakes. Tomorrow concludes our 9 day trek of the “O” and “W” circuits. We’ll head out early to see the actual towers that gives this park it’s name and then head for Puerto Natales.
The Team got started from Refugio Paine Grande at 9:30. The weather was cool and windy for the first two hours as we hiked to Campamento Italiano at the base of the French Valley. We ditched packs and grabbed a light lunch and water, then headed up to the British viewpoint. The views of the Horns, Sharks Fin, and surrounding peaks were worth the side hike. A quick descent down to grab packs and a 30-minute walk to the French Domes wrapped up the day. The skies have been grey and the rain has held off until after getting to camp each day so fingers crossed for two more days of hiking.
Hi guys, I had sent a previous message but I don’t think it got through so I will try again. Anyway, this trip sounds like my kind of trip. I’m sure you all are having a great great time. I’m sure you all, by this time, would love a hot meal, A hot shower and a dry bed to sleep in. I’m sure, by this time, Katie will be having withdrawal symptoms from Trader Joe’s and Bloomingdale’s. See you all soon and don’t forget to smell the flowers.
Posted by: Marilyn Freedman on 2/19/2020 at 10:39 am
Hey guys…I’m following you on this blog site. Photos look great. Happy Birthday Michael! Bruce, I hope your foot feels better, and Katie and Matt, hang in there…. Dinner at Arlington Kebob awaits your return!
You’re not missing anything here. Sofar, the US seems to have contained the Coronavirus, Trump is still president, and with the stock market hitting new highs, you have enough money to sign up for another RMI expedition! Have fun.
Posted by: Joyce Freedman on 2/17/2020 at 8:04 pm
February 16, 2020
Posted by: Mike King
We enjoyed a rainy rest day at Refugio Grey. The wind and water on Lago Grey didn’t cooperate for a kayak tour but the time off our feet was appreciated. With only 7 km to Paine Grande we got a later start and walked through the 2011 forest fire scar that provided great views due to reduced vegetation. The trail took us up and down a section of rocky bluffs filled with foxglove and tall grass over 4.5 hours. The winds are usually strong in this section and today was no different. Arriving at Refugio Paine Grande we got glimpses of the main rock formations this area is famous for. High winds, snow and grey skies up high made from some good spectating from within the beautiful and modern hut. Three days remain and we still have a lot of trail to cover and mountains to see. Thanks for following along.
February 15, 2020
Posted by: Mike King
Yesterday was a day that the Team won’t forget for some time. We got a 5:30 am wake up to pack while rain showered down on our tents at Perros Camp. By the time we set off uphill at 7:10 the rain had tapered off but the muddy trail would remain for the next few hours. The group weaved its way through roots and rocks trying to stay out of the calf deep mud.
As we got above tree line the sun had started to illuminate the fresh snow covered peaks above. The clouds stayed high allowing great views of the days previous terrain and the many glaciers surrounding John Gartner Pass. The 1968’ of elevation to the pass consisted of rock trails and snow melt streams. Arriving in the pass at 3840’ the warm up was over and the day’s work was just beginning.
The first part of the descent from the pass was 2,560’ straight down. The trail, if you could call it that is best summed up as a cruel game of chutes and ladders. People use the roots, rocks, trees, ropes and black iron plumbing pipe as handrails. Picking your way down and being cautious to not trip or tumble. With tired legs and a bit of mental fatigue we pulled into Paso Camp.
From Paso Camp at 1280’ we hadmore chutes and ladders terrain that eventually dropped us to Refugio Grey at 500’. To get there we had three impressive suspension bridges that spanned 300’ deep canyons. Along the way we enjoyed spectacular views of the Grey glacier which is one of the arms making up the Southern Patagonia ice sheet. We didn’t all get to camp at the same time, but arrived safe nonetheless to a hot dinner, drinks, showers and a comfy bed.
Aside from sore feet, knees and a few blisters the Team is doing well and enjoying a rainy rest day at Refugio Grey. Boat repairs are keeping us from a Grey glacier tour but there is hope for a kayak tour later this afternoon if the wind dies down.
Apologies for the delay in dispatches, we had poor signal at our last camp and yesterday were busy experiencing this adventure and tough day to concern ourselves with the internet. A huge shout out to Fernando and Francisca our Chilean guides for their professionalism, local knowledge and camaraderie during this trip so far.
February 14, 2020
Posted by: Mike King
We got a casual start from Lago Dickson this morning around 11:15. The hike was about 5.5 hours and the Los Perros camp is in a colder and more humid area. So instead of rushing there we hung out this morning. The hike took us mostly through a dense forest and along side some beautiful glacial rivers with narrow canyons and a nice waterfall view at lunch. Shortly afterwards we began climbing a lateral moraine and got some nice views of the Perros glacier and surrounding peaks. There has not been much direct sunlight this trip and there also has not been much rain. The overcast skies have not made for the best pictures but the temperatures are good for hiking and everyone is enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Tomorrow we head up through John Gardner Pass, the highest point of the trek at 1200 meters.
February 12, 2020
Posted by: Mike King
Our 12 mile hike from Seron to Lago Dickson was an enjoyable day that consisted of rolling hills, tall grass and sporadic forests. We started paralleling the Paine River, “Paine” means blue in the native language. We were moving for about seven hours today, stopping often to take pictures and take in the views of glaciers and mountains that were covered with dark clouds from time to time.
Besides a few birds we didn’t see much wildlife. As we climbed a small hill between two knolls we got a good look at the Dickson Glacier that extends into Argentina and creates Lago Dickson, Rio Paine and Lago Paine. The camp is located on a large flat that has nice river access, large trees to act as a wind break and great mountain vistas.
We continue to eat well, have fun conversations with in our team and other hikers. Once at camp the charcuterie board and vino appeared and our team enjoyed some showers, time in the sun and kicking a soccer ball around. The dinners have been good, a salad, soup, meat and rice typically. Tomorrow we walk to Los Perros Camp. Life is pretty, pretty, pretty good out here.
February 11, 2020
Posted by: Mike King
Today we got a casual start with a two hour drive to the Torres del Paine National Park. On the way we saw 20+ guanacos, which is a wild cameloid, similar to a llama. As we got closer to the park, flamingos and rheas where sighted.
The weather was overcast but we got some views of the glaciers and rock towers that this area is known for. Our hike to Campamento Seron was 5.5 miles and consisted of nice trail and beautiful Patagonia scenery. The tall grasses, wind bent trees and milky emerald green rivers kept people taking photos and enjoying conversations. We are in camp for the night, music in the background, good food being prepared and a charcuterie board with a few bottles of Chilean red wine to kick this trip off right.
This is Mike, checking in for the Torres del Paine trekkers here in Punta Arenas. Everyone arrived after a long two days of travel. We got an early start to head to Isla Magdelana located in the Strait of Magellan to see a colony of Magellan penguins. The Strait of Magellan is protected from the weather of Cape Horn and one of the most important passages between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The hour and half boat ride was calm with nice views of the fractured land that makes up Southern Patagonia. Arriving to the island we had some ground rules laid out to not impact the penguins who are raising their near grown young. The young penguins are shedding their feathers in preparation for a northern migration along the coast of Argentina, Uruguay and even Southern Brazil.
After an hour of walking and taking in the mix of penguins, gulls and brown skua we loaded up to head towards a sea lion colony. From the idling boat we took in these animals that number around 2,000. The smell traveled across the water while the young ones played in the water and swam close to the boat out of curiosity. On our return to Punta Arenas we saw a few Peale’s dolphins swimming alongside the boats. The remainder of the day will be spent in transit to Puerto Natales where we will pack for the start of our Torres del Paine trek. Thanks for following along.
RMI Guide Mike King