Saturday, December 28, 2013

Our Honeymoon - Day 10 - Refugio Cuernos up the Valley Frances then out to Paine Grande

Today we ran out of luck with the weather on our trip.  From when we got up all the way till we reached our final campsite the mountains remained cloudy and it was raining off and on.  We ended up skipping the French Valley which ended up working out as we were exhausted.  We were able to relax at our final campsite at Paine Grande with a nice meal and pisco sours from the bar there.  Click the title to read on.... 

Today we awoke to pouring rain and wind, once again.  As usual for us in Patagonia I pushed our alarm back from 7am to 8am and we didn't actually get up until around 8:30, and it was still pouring out.  We had a huge day of hiking ahead of us so I busied myself with preparing the essentials (most expensive stuff) into the top of my pack which converted into waistpack for day hikes.  The plan was to head to Camp Italiano and drop our heavy overnight packs and head up the valley with the lighter waist pack.  It was tricky packing up the tent in the pouring rain but we managed.  We stopped quickly at the Refugio Cuernos and then hit the trail.  

After about an hour of hiking over a very muddy trail it became pretty apparent that the weather was not going to improve.  As we dropped down to the shore of the lake and then headed uphill towards Camp Italiano we made the call to just keep going as the French Valley was definitely not going to open up for views and the extra 6-8 miles, even with a daypack, was not going to be worth the effort without views.  We continued on through the clouds towards the Paine Grande Refugio.  

We soon found ourselves in the area of the 2011 fire that took out much of the park.  It was interesting seeing the burned trees with the summer flowers growing amongst them.  As we continued on we began to see breaks of sun but the valley Frances never seemed to clear itself of clouds.  Instead of taking photos of mountains we began to take photos of the various Patagonian flowers and birds that were all around us.  

When we got Paine Grand we quickly found a camp spot and set up our tent to dry out in the sun.  Within 10 minutes it began to rain again... oh well.  We climbed in and got our stuff organized and cleaned up a bit before heading into the massive lodge of Paine Grande.  The place was much bigger than the other refugios, probably because it was serviced by boats right on the water of Lake Pehoe.  We found our way upstairs to the bar where we ordered several rounds of pisco sours.  

We chatted it up with a family from Missoula, MT about where we all had been in Patagonia.  They gave us great news about seeing penguins at Ottaway in Punta Arenas on our way out in a few days.  They, like many others around us, were staying in rooms in the refugios, but we were happy in our tent in the "backyard" of the refugio happily eating our $8 MountainHouse meals instead of the $30 plates the refugio was charging for dinner.  

I set up the camera on a table upstairs at the bar and let it run at a shot every 5 seconds pointed back towards the Cuernos Peaks of Torres del Paine and let it run for about an hour to get a time lapse of the amazing clouds moving over the peaks in the distance.  Off and on it rained but I think I got a pretty good set of photos.  We ordered a beer each after the 3 pisco sours, all before we ate dinner, and I felt fine but upon returning to the the tent for dinner Emily promptly passed out drunk in the tent, unable to even finish her dinner I had made for her.  

I tried to get her up but she insisted on sleeping a little and kept passing our with the bag of food in her hand.  So... here I sit, at the bar, drinking a beer and updating our travel blog while she naps.  We have another hour before sunset so I'll give her a 45 minute nap then will return to the tent to force her awake to finish the dinner because we have a big day of kayaking out of the mountains tomorrow.  

Well, when I returned to the tent it took a bit to get Emily up to eat and drink water.  She was pretty happy sleeping but she needed energy for the next day so I was very "mean" and made her eat her Mountainhouse and drink water oz by oz.  Finally, she had enough, threatened to puke it up, and I let her go back to sleep while I stayed up to watch a movie before bed. 

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