South America | Chile | Puerto Natales – Rain in Torres del Paine….a real Paine in the Arse
We have been sitting out the rains for three days now in Puerto Natales, hoping the rains will subside. Our first day here, it poured rain during the night, and early morning. The first day included some sun, and mild weather but CONAF published pictures of the main bridge to Hosteria los Torres under water on our first day.
Our second day brought beautiful weather and no rain during the night. We rented some bikes from a very helpful guy at Patagonia Adventures (loads of information folks!), rode bikes all the way past the small (and shut up tight) airport outside of town, to have lunch on the side of a dirt road leading to the Cueva del Milodon North of town. This is a cave formed when the glaciers receded thousands of years ago, and exposed some softer sand in the rock which the sea then washed away over thousands of years. A giant sloth and other animals made a home of it, and a giant sloth´s, or Milodon, skeleton ended up remaining there waiting for discovery until about 100 years ago. I realized we had forgotten a knife for our cheese, tomato, avocado and cucumber sandwiches, so we made due by peeling the tomato and avocado with our hands. Simple, but delicious!
After lunch a short ride got us to the cave, and then we walked through the small but interesting cave. We walked up to the lookout point and as the only people at the park at the time, enjoyed peace and solitude with the wind blowing strongly through the tree tops. The magnificent views across the fiord brought reminders of Alaska to Walter, and I had nothing in my past travels to compare to this experience. Wind blown rolling hills, with harsh, pointy mountains in the distance dominating the views behind us. We could see three glaciers in the distance, one more blue than the others. The wind stirred up some serious white caps on the fiord in the distance. Clouds, my favorite part, travled fast overhead, flat and dark on the bottoms, billowy and white on the tops.
After a lengthy break, we started riding again. Fortunately, as we rounded the second bend after going for about one hour into the strong winds we got our first sight of the Torres del Paine park…beautiful. Unfortunately, without asking for directions we had embarked down the wrong dirt road. Luckily the views were rewarding enough! Turning around, eating our last roll, we had the wind to our backs for a bit and I asked Walter to entertain me on a long walk uphill with a story so I could stop thinking about my tired back. After a bit, a long downhill ride brought us to another road (the right road), which we turned down and discovered the wind against our faces once again! We made a combined decision to ride on hoping the turn back towards town would come soon, putting the winds to our back.
The turn came in about five minutes and our perseverance paid off wonderfully. We could see the fiords closer than in the morning and rode alongside wild blueberry bushes the whole way back, passing by huge herds of LARGE cows. Taffy would have loved these cows! We saw a condor, hawk, seagulls, swans, and ducks on the way back to town.
Exhausted we pulled into town eight hours after starting, and went for showers and then dinner. We sat at dinner along the fiord with the wind literally howling into our restaurant, with me wondering, will the glass windows hold. The night did bring some rain, but it doesn´t appear to be too wet around here today.
We headed to the grocery after a lengthy chill-out at a local veggie coffee shop to buy our food for the next five days. We decided to go for it, and just try out the park even if most of it is flooded right now. Today could have included some kayaking up the fiord, but the strong winds prevented us from heading out this morning.
Tonight we will lay out all the food and the supplies, pack up and pray for no more rain!! Then tomorrow morning we will head to the Torres del Paine park, hear about the conditions from the park rangers, and decide which area to focus our hiking and camping.
And one final thought, What a pleasure it is to travel with someone you know, who is also so easy to get along with!