South America | Chile | Torres del Paine National Park – A rainy day on the trail
Glancing outside of our tent and hearing the rain and wind made it an easy decision to make breakfast in the tent and lay around for the better part of the morning.
Later, the rain did slow down to a faint drizzle. We loaded up with our rain gear, and headed for the hike up to the base of the towers, hoping the weather would clear for a quick sight of the majestic pink granite pillars standing tall in the clouds.
Hiking along the river we crossed two major landslides, and several swollen creeks. We climbed in altitude and noticed the rain turning into small pellets of ice, not exactly hail so it did not hurt too badly. After about a half an hour we entered a rainy forest, with the floor covered in a spongey mud of leaves, moss and dirt. It had a wonderful earthy smell mixed with the rain in the air.
At the end of the first hour, the trees cleared and we found ourselves at the bottom of a huge gravel scree going up steeply towards our destination. We started scrambling up the rocks and carefully watching out for the orange circles painted on the rocks marking our trail since the rain had now turned to fairly heavy snowfall. Forty-five minutes later we crawled over our last boulder to reach a peak, and a most unexpected site: a small glacial lake at the base of the towers, with them growing out of the water it seemed. The snow and the clouds actually did receed for long enough for us to take a few pictures, and enjoy the sight of the towers up close. I really felt like I could reach out and touch them across the small lake. Their size could not be put into perspective since the only other things at this height were the rocks we chose to rest on.
The wind, quickly becoming our friend because we had no other choice but to befriend this ever present nuisance, roared and the tempature dropped, so we headed down the trail. Ready for the warmth of the tent, I headed back to the campsite and Walter hiked on up to a climber´s only campsite to check it out. I missed a turn off on the trail and found myself knee deep in mud and muck right at the end of the trail before crossing the river to the campsite. I cleaned up, had another hot shower, and enjoyed a tea inside the refugio while reading my book. Walter returned after a couple of hours to report that not many people apparently hiked up to the other campsite and the snow had continued up at that height. It really made for a beautiful view even from our tent of snow covered mountains all around us.
After dinner we made our plans for the next day to head down the mountain, to a lake, and hiking to Refugio Cuernos. We knew it would be a longer day of hiking, but we would be getting closer to the Valle de Frances, which has other glaciers and towers, and passing by a beautiful lake.