In late December 2016, when we booked this trip, images of Torres del Paine were how I envisioned our time in Patagonia. As Kay began to map our trekking routes in early January for our time just a few weeks away, he wanted without a doubt to do the “O” trek.
However, when he went to book it, he realized it was point-blank impossible because we wouldn’t be able to secure camping permits, something recently introduced in autumn 2016 in the park. (Greeaat, just like our timing with the permits for the Inca trail in Peru… we are always missing out!)No fear, we can still do the “W” trek, a portion of the O trek. Only… as Kay went to book the sites, one of the key camping points was booked up, making the entire trek impossible for our time there. CRAP. But I NEEDED to see those towers… I mean, LOOK AT THEM.
Although we could not do any type of through trekking here, we could pay the pricey fee to camp at one of the sites at the base of Torres del Paine and then hike up in the morning. So after heading up from Ushuaia and spending a night in Puerto Natales, we got to the park and set up camp for just one night.The bonus of still doing a night camping was that we would have an early start for the summit and avoid the mass of crowds that come in with a tour bus around 10am and start their day hike then.And boy, was it a good idea. We only had one shot at this, so we prayed for good weather. Meanwhile, we put our one night of dinner together and enjoyed the atmosphere at the campsite, which was something like Disneyland with how many excited hikers were there camping out.
Also, with the towers just above the campsite, it was a great place to enjoy the view and get a taste of what we would hopefully see the next day if the weather was kind to us.In the morning, we had a quick breakfast and then set off with the sun still getting started. We could see the towers from the base, but would they still be visible by the time we got up there?After getting up around 5:30am and racing excitedly to the top with just our daypacks wearing us down, we were greeted with this fantastic view:The stuff Patagonia is made of.The weather was slightly tricky as the clouds were always rushing over the tops of the mountains, constantly hiding at least one of the towers.But what a sight to behold.I think we could have stayed here all day… but we had to turn around eventually and tear down our campsite before making the bus back to Puerto Natales in time.Kay was always waiting just a bit more to see if all three of the towers would be all the way visible… but the clouds pressing up and over from behind them were teasing us. Now? No… what about now? Ohh….This was probably the best we had below, before I told him we really should head back if we wanted to make it out of there on time.Sadly, it was time to leave. As we set off down the path, we were passed by about a million of the day hikers coming in off the buses. The further we walked down, the more the clouds covered the towers and it started lightly raining. By the time we got to the start, we looked back up at the towers and they were completely covered in rain and clouds. It looked terrible. Terrible for all those day trippers…Sometimes it pays getting up early y’all and being there when the day starts! And with Patagonia, you just plain need some luck on your side. I’m thankful that we were still able to see this view with just a day in the park!
Up next, we head back to Argentina to see the Perito Moreno glacier!