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Old 03-07-2013, 11:58 AM   #1351
Ulyses OP
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Torres del Paine: Day 2

Day 137 (March 2, 2013)
Refugio Grey to Campamento Italiano
Day's Hike: 11.6 Miles



The unfortunate part of this trip is that I wasn't able to bring all of the optimal gear. Back in the states I have thousands of dollars worth of climbing and hiking gear stashed away in rubbermade tubs. Unfortunately, taking a motorcycle limits the amount of things that you can bring and traveling through so many different climates means that you must try and bring the kind of gear that will work in multiple environments. This invariably leads to compromises. For instance, I decided to bring a 35 degree sleeping bag. When a bag is rated at 35 degrees, it means that it will allow you to survive at 35 degrees, but will only really be comfortable at around 45-50 degrees. For most of the trip this hasn't been an issue; however, Patagonia soon proved to be a different story.

After a relatively sleepless night spent trying to stay warm, Dylan and I struck camp and got back on the trail. The day's hike would lead us back to Paine Grande and then on to a supposedly closed campground called Campamento Italiano. A few miles down the trail, I stopped to get some shots of Glacier Grey as we departed.



If you did nothing else in this park, I would suggest making a quick day hike up to see this thing. It's damn impressive.

We covered the 11 kilometers back to Paine Grande fairly fast and decided to take a long lunch break. Our stop for the night, Campamento Italiano, was supposedly closed due to problems with the septic system; however, we had heard a rumor that if you showed up after 7:00 PM, the rangers would let you camp there as long as you promised to have your tent down by 7:00 AM the next morning. I should mention that wild camping or stealth camping is strictly prohibited in the park; therefore you are required to stay at developed campsites. This was also a little frustrating for me; however, with the amount of visitors in the park I can understand why this is necessary.

We waited till 5:00 PM and then departed Paine Grande, hoping to time our hiking just right and cover the next 7.6 kilometers right at the two hour mark.



With the sun at our back we were treated to some nice views of the towering spires that make up the Paine Massif and the small glacial lakes that surround them.





Along the trail we encountered a few girls who were quietly staring at a bush. I stopped to see what they were looking at and spotted this little baby owl:



Dylan tried to get a little closer to get a better picture and almost had his finger bitten off. This little guy was a fiesty devil.

We followed the owl girls into Campamento Italiano and arrived right at 7:00 PM. Dylan and I decided that the girls would make better negotiators in the attempt to sweet talk the rangers into letting us camp there and hung back while they did the talking.



Sure enough, the rangers allowed us to stay. We bedded down fairly quickly and got some sleep in preparation for the next day's hike into the Valle de Frances.

Ulyses screwed with this post 03-07-2013 at 07:07 PM
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:42 PM   #1352
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Torres del Paine: Day 3

Day 138 (March 3, 2013)
Campamento Italiano to Valle de Frances to Refugio Los Cuernos
Day's Hike: 12.8 Miles



Waking up a few minutes before sunrise, Dylan and I struck our tents, cooked a quick breakfast, then stashed our gear at the Ranger hut and began our hike up the Valle de Frances. We were immediately confronted by a vast series of hanging glaciers that covered a nearby peak.





As we were watching, several massive chunks of ice broke free and cascaded down the mountain in an avalanche of massive proportions. The view was incredible. The trail up the Valle de Frances was fairly steep and strewn with rocks. As we ascended the view were incredible; however, we were soon grateful that we had been able to leave our packs and all of our gear back at the camp.



After a couple of hours of hiking we made it to the top of the valley and the Mirador. We arrived just before the sun broke over the ridge behind us and were able to watch the sunrise and bathe the surrounding coliour in a wash of golden light.









We sat around in the sun for a few hours just soaking in the view and snacking on salami and snickers bars. Eventually we worked up the energy to get back underway and descend to retrieve our gear.



After stopping for a quick lunch in Campamento Italiano, we continued down the trail towards Refugio Los Cuernos. The day soon became unusually hot and when the trail descended down to the edge of Lake Nordernskjold, I decided to take a dip.



While it seemed a good idea in theory, jumping into a lake that is comprised solely of glacial runoff turned out to be a bad decision. After managing to submerge myself totally, my heart nearly stopped from the shock of the cold water and I came tearing back up onto the rocky beach cursing up a storm.



The remainder of the hike into Refugio Los Cuernos was fairly easy and we were treated to some nice views of the lake. We arrived at the refugio and set up our tents. All of the refugios charge a few for camping; Los Cuernos ended up being the most expensive at nearly $16! Still, I shouldn't complain too much as spending all of that money seriously lightened my wallet which in turn lightened my pack....

Ulyses screwed with this post 03-07-2013 at 07:08 PM
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:51 PM   #1353
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Type faster.
Yep
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Old 03-07-2013, 01:28 PM   #1354
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Torres del Paine: Day 4

Day 139 (March 4, 2013)
Refugio Los Cuernos to Campamento Los Torres
Day's Hike: 10 Miles



The fourth day of hiking was relatively easy and only served to get us into position for an early hike to the base of the Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) to watch the sun come up. Consequently, we got a late start. Clouds started moving in behind us and I wondered if our perfect weather window was about to end.



Fortunately, the good weather held and we escaped with only a few rain drops falling belatedly in the dust behind us. Halfway down the trail, I stopped to climb up on a big boulder and get a better view of the lake that we were skirting.



If you look closely, you'll notice that I'm wearing a pink shirt. Since I had neglected to pack some appropriate synthetic clothing fit for hiking, I had had to spend half a day in Puerto Notales hunting through used clothing stores trying to find something that would work. I ended up with a pink Umbro soccer jersey that said "McVeigh's Irish Pub" and a pair of Docker's Khaki pants that were 50% rayon and 50% cotton. Combined with my combat boots, this became a rather interesting get-up. I started referring to it as "business casual" hiking.

When I stopped for lunch, a bunch of Japanese guys came strolling by. They seemed to understand english fairly well, so I asked them if they could take a look at my camera for me and see if they could change the language. They were happy to help; however, after a few minutes of scrolling through the menus they informed me that my camera was a Japanese language only model.



WTF Sony? Why are you selling these things in Latin America?!

The trail soon left the park and passed through some private land. Horses were grazing nearby and I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures.



The trail soon began climbing back up towards the massif and before long we were following a river of glacial runoff through the trees.



We eventually crossed back off of the private land and into the park boundaries. A nice sign conveniently pointed this out for us:



We reached Campamento Torres soon after and set up camp. The plan for the following day was to wake up before sunrise, hike the final one kilometer to the Torres del Paine overlook and watch the sun come up, then hike back to Hotel Las Torres and catch a ride back into town. However, I started talking to a ranger named Leo that worked at Campamento Torres. I coiled a climbing rope for him and we spent a few minutes talking. Later that night, I was talking with Leo and a couple of girls that we had met along the trail. Leo offered to take us on a hike the following day into a section of the park that was closed to hikers.

This sounded like an awesome trip; however, Dylan and I had only packed enough food for five days. We decided to scrounge some extra food by begging fellow hikers and then wait to see how the weather was in the morning before committing to an extra day.

Ulyses screwed with this post 03-07-2013 at 07:09 PM
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:17 PM   #1355
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Originally Posted by Ulyses View Post
Day 136 (February 1, 2013)
Paine Grande to Refugio Grey
Day's Hike: 12 Miles

Damn, Bryce, this is so awesome that it caused you to back up a month in time!
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:25 PM   #1356
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...We followed the owl girls into Campamento Italiano and .... We bedded down fairly quickly and got some sleep in preparation for the next day's hike into the Valle de Frances.


Is there something you're not reporting?
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Let's ride!!! - No offense, but there've been a lot of people over time who were just as sure, yet got it wrong. - Una necedad, aunque la repitan millones de bocas, no deja de ser una necedad. - "you know that I could have me a million more friends and all I'd have to lose is my point of view" (Prine)
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:33 PM   #1357
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Is there something you're not reporting?
Yep. A serious hangover, combined with a lack of sleep and a desire to postpone my birthday for another month.

Thanks for catching that, I haven't been on my A game today. Too much celebration last night.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:45 PM   #1358
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Well first things first: Happy Birthday!
And what an amazing birthday it is to be.

I agree, it doesn't make any sense to sell a camera with only one language, neither from a manufacturing/stocking point of view nor from that of a user. Nonetheless, there are some absolutely incredible images you have captured with it. The one with Dylan sitting in the view of the mountain range is particularly telling.



I guess you can't get into hangin' with the girls in the ride report...
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Let's ride!!! - No offense, but there've been a lot of people over time who were just as sure, yet got it wrong. - Una necedad, aunque la repitan millones de bocas, no deja de ser una necedad. - "you know that I could have me a million more friends and all I'd have to lose is my point of view" (Prine)
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:41 PM   #1359
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Happy Birthday! Hope you had an awesome day!
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:02 PM   #1360
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Bryce.
What kind of tent are you using,seem to be perfect for you. Thank you. RO-MAN.
Hey man, sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I'm actually not sure who makes the tent that I'm using. It was issued to me by the Marine Corps right before I went to Afghanistan for the first time and then we were told that we could keep it. I'll try and look at some of the labels on it and see if I can find a maker or at least an NSN.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:03 PM   #1361
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Happy Birthday! Hope you had an awesome day!
Snap! Thanks man! I should clarify though, it's not actually my birthday yet; it's still six days out.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:41 PM   #1362
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Great pics! That one of your buddy was sick! The business casual hiking comment had me cracking up!!!!!!
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:40 PM   #1363
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Spectacular!!!
That is one place on earth I've always wanted to hike into & see.
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Old 03-08-2013, 05:41 AM   #1364
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Snap! Thanks man! I should clarify though, it's not actually my birthday yet; it's still six days out.

Just getting in front of the crowd Keep it going!
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Old 03-08-2013, 05:58 AM   #1365
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Torres del Paine: Day 5

Day 140 (March 5, 2013)
Campamento Italiano, Mirador de Las Torres, and Valle de Silencio
Day's Hike: 13.75 Miles



On what was supposed to be our last day, we woke up at 5:30 AM, packed a few things in our bags, and started hiking for the base of the Torres in order to catch the sunset. We made it to the Mirador about an hour before sunrise and unpacked our stove to cook breakfast while we waited for the sun to top the ridge.

When the sun finally broke, the view was fantastic.







We spent an hour just watching the sun paint the towers. Eventually we turned around and hiked back down to the campground. At this point we had a decision to make: stay an extra day and hike up to the valley of silence or pack up and head back to Puerto Notales.

Dylan's knee had been hurting him since day three and after we had descended from the Mirador, he decided to pack it up and head back. I decided to stick around for another hour or so and see how the weather turned out before committing to an extra day.



I sat around and cooked some of my newly donated food and waited for the weather to make up it's mind. Eventually things started looking good and my new Ranger friend Leo and the two girls I had met, Crystal and Christen, decided they were ready to go. We started hiking north up a valley that was closed to hiking without a climbing permit or a ranger escort towards a campsite known as Japonesa.





Since this area was closed to hiking, we had it all to ourselves. This was what I had been wanting ever since I got into the park: a beautiful alpine valley with no tourists.

Leo the Ranger took us up to a little cave that climbers used as a base camp when climbing the torres and we got inside and cooked a little lunch.





We continued up a high glacial carved valley above the tree line, following the path that climbers take to reach the base of the Torres.



We drank water straight from the hanging glaciers that lined the path.





We eventually reached the head of the valley and began scrambling up the talus towards the base of the towers.



Eventually the talus gave way to steeply inclined granite slabs. With some slight misgivings, I began climbing. Unfortunately, the wind started picking up and blowing rocks down on us. This combined with the fact that a small slip would send you sliding down the slabs for a couple hundred feet convinced us that we had gone far enough.



On the way down we found some snow fields and I went for a little standing glisade.



First turns of the season for me; man, I can't wait to get a little skiing in when I get back. Check out these sick lines ....



Coming down the valley we passed by glaciers that were buried underneath dirt and talus:



As we were hiking back down, some small squalls moved in and we started getting snowed on.



At around 7:00 PM we made it back to camp and cooked up a huge communal feast with our remaining food. We had found a few cloves of garlic lying on the trail on our way back down, and we cut it up and added it to our soups, pastas, toasted bread, and mashed potatoes. It was epic. There's something about hiking that makes me dream about food and savor every calorie.
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