Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Honeymoon - Day 9 - Campamento Torres to Mirador Torres to Refugio Torres

Today we had amazing views of the towers in the morning after climbing through fresh snow.  We then continued our trek with beautiful weather all day.  It was certainly a very long day and by the time we reached our second campsite we were exhausted.  Click the title to read on and see some of the most amazing photos from our trip.  

Today was another simply amazingly lucky day for us.  My original plan was to wake up at 4am and hike up to the Mirador at dawn but when I woke up it was raining and blowing hard and my hopes were dashed.  I set the alarm for 8am.  When I woke up.... still blowing and raining.  Wondering where the good weather was I set the alarm for 10am... as long as we could sleep and still make the hikes we needed to by dark.

Well... at 9:30am the resident park ranger was shaking our tent and telling us we could only stay "uno noche"... I tried in broken spanglish to explain we were sleeping in with hopes of better weather.  He responded that it didn't matter and the weather would continue.  So.. up we were.  We took our time getting packed up and were all ready to go around 10:30am.  It was still super cloudy with no views but the rain had stopped and I had hope.  

I had a feeling the weather would turn for the better and I suggested we drop our heavy overnight packs, take our rain gear and camera and head up to the Mirador regardless with our fingers crossed.  This was the right choice at the right time because halfway up the slippery, snow covered trail the clouds quickly rose and began breaking apart.  Soon we could see all the spires towering above us.  In a quick 45 minutes we were at the end of the lake with perfect views of all the towers and as the sun broke through the clouds I began snapping photos.  

We walked around the side of the lake for a distance through the snow and found a big rock out on the water for photos.  Us and several other couples took turns taking photos of each other sitting on the rock with the towers behind.  We heard that they had been clouded in for over two days and in the morning they were also not visible.  Sleeping in and being patient with the weather had paid off!  After many more photos we were off back down the trail to our bags.

We left Campamento Torres at 1pm with our heavy backpacks back down through the Ascencio Valley towards the valley south of Torres del Paine.  We quickly reached the end of the valley at around 3pm and took a "shortcut trail" towards Refugio Cuernos.  This trail connected with the main trail far below near the large lake we had to walk around.  We walked in front of a huge snow-covered mountain face with wildflowers all around us.   

It was great to finally be off the incredibly busy Mirador Torres trail in the Ascencio Valley although we were still often smelling horse crap along the trail because it was private land.  Based on maps we could tell that all the refugios were built upon the private land and horses could travel all the trails as well.  This is why the area has become so developed.  Greed supersedes natural beauty and environmental stewardship in this part of the park apparently.  

We were playing hopscotch with a group of three guys for nearly the entire 4 hour hike from the Valley Ascencio to the Refugio Cuernos.  At first it was really flat hiking but just before the refugio the trail steepened and became much more hilly.  Our bodies were exhausted after hauling the heavy packs for such a long ways and when we finally saw the refugio in the trees it was a huge relief.  We had passes from Dittmar for 2 campsites which thought might get us a numbered site or something... nope... we had to fight for whatever we could find which was really not that much because we had arrived around 7pm.  It seemed like people must camp out super early to get the nice spots or perhaps all the tour guides got them before anyone else.  

The first spot we found was far too small for our tent and horribly slanted but Emily quickly found another spot that we moved to which was far superior.  As she relaxed and cleaned up I found us clean water and cooked dinner (the norm when we camp).  We had some great views of new peaks as we approached the refugio but now as I write this at 11pm it is once again raining and blowing fierce Patagonian winds on us.  Thank goodness we have enough tent stakes as we might blow away, even under the trees.  

We have another big day of hiking tomorrow but thankfully much of it will be with daypacks.  We also finally finished our Lord of the Rings Marathon tonight as it got dark and started to rain.  We are both hoping for nice weather again tomorrow but the forecast wasn't as good for tomorrow as it was for today.  Fingers crossed...

No comments: