After the fun of day 4 with all the wind and beautiful views of the lakes and the Torres del Paine, the big day finally arrived: no, not because it was the last day of hiking but because it was the day we were trekking up to the lagoon to see the peaks close and personal. But it would all depend on the weather as there could be rain or cloud coverage over the iconic conical (alliteration!) peaks. The morning light showed everything looked good – and majestic!
About an hour later, the light had changed and a rainbow appeared.
The Refugio Chileno
Trekking from the Refugio Chileno, where we had stayed overnight, back to our exit point at Hotel Las Torres would be about 9 kms. But before starting on that, we would go up to the Mirador Las Torres, about 4 kms away and mostly going up about 380 m to reach the lagoon at around 875 m above sea level. So, in total, this day would be 17 kms worth of distance covered.
I have not mentioned how the refugios work. They usually have rooms with several bunk beds (stacks of 2 or 3), shared bathroom facilities (with private showers), and communal dining (usually scheduled as not everyone fits at once). I am not saying they are super clean but they were generally better than expected. The meals were acceptable if not good and wine and beer were always available. I gained weight in this 5-day hike!
Getting to the Mirador Las Torres
Alright, back to the hike. The route up was not always a nice path, there were a couple of spots with makeshift wooden bridges to cross small streams. But that all added to the fun of the climb.
Of course, going up was more fun due to the expectation of arriving to the top mirador (viewing point), of getting as close to the Torres as possible. Returning to the Refugio Chileno, by comparison, was slightly less exciting but probably more tranquil.
So, while the weather had been iffy in the morning, it improved as the climb up happened. Sadly, we did have some cloud coverage at the top of the towers as you can see in the photos. We heard that they cleared up later – just the nature of the weather down in Patagonia: you never know! Though mildly disappointed, it was still a great feeling to make it up there.
And then leaving the Torres del Paine National Park…
Once we returned to the refugio, we did the usual (pit stop, eat something, etc.) and then picked up our stuff and started to make our way out of the park and our phenomenal 5-day hike of the W circuit of the Torres del Paine. The vistas continued to be breathtaking all the way until the end of the hike, pretty much.
I was on the front group and I ran into the Hotel Las Torres, where the bus was picking us up, to make a pit stop when I spotted the bar. And that’s when I remembered how, upon finishing descent from Mt. Kilimanjaro, one of my fellow trekkers, Len Stanmore, and I grabbed a beer (I wish I could have added “cold” as an adjective but it wasn’t…) to celebrate. So I ordered a beer for me and fellow trekker Paula who was there with me and we celebrated completing the W circuit in proper form!
With this, I end the series of the hike in the Torres del Paine National Park. It is as beautiful a landscape as there exists in this planet: the Chilean Patagonia. I have been blessed with seeing it once as more of a tourist (in 2010) and again, fulfilling a wish I had since 2010, of returning to trek the W circuit so I could see everything further up close than in 2010. I am lucky guy indeed.
Go back to day 4 of this Patagonia trek!
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