Finally, the long awaited day arrived: the day we would start our hike in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. I had visited the park in 2010 but did not hike that time (I wasn’t big on hiking then plus I had very limited time to explore the area). We left Puerto Natales early to cover the 2hr+ route to get to the port where we would take a catamaran to cross Lake Pehoe, a 30-minute ride or so. Before getting on the boat, we got a teaser on the beauty we would be getting ourselves into during our hike. The peaks or towers of the Torres del Paine stood before us in simple but great majesty. Do you agree??
This boat ride would take us to the Refugio Paine Grande, the starting point in our hike. Right at the departure “port,” we saw evidence of the fires that ravaged the area a few years ago. The trees were reminders of the fragility of the environment there (or anywhere, for that matter).The map below shows where we took the catamaran (A), where we landed at near Refugio Paine Grande (B), and where we were going to hike that day, Refugio Grey (C). The next day we would return to and stay at Refugio Paine Grande again.The ride was smooth and the views were awesome, especially because the day was so beautiful. By the time we got to the refugio, it was about lunch time so we had lunch at the refugio. The meal was simple but pretty tasty and, certainly, hefty enough to help us with the trek ahead. However, by the time I was done eating the lentils and rice dish, I was longing for a nap, not a hike
We got on our way to Refugio Grey around 2 PM. The landscape started a little on the bland side and then we moved through forest of burnt trees before stepping back into the beauty of life with purple, pink and yellow flowers as we bordered lakes. Approaching a high point overlooking Laguna Los Patos, we got our first taste of strong winds – and our first long break. The route is not overly signed but I did like the signs located along the way. At this point, we had covered 1/3 of the total hike for the day as the sign at Laguna Los Patos shows. We would encounter a couple more of these signs before reaching our destination.Soon after we could see the end of the lake facing the Grey glacier. In 2010 I had visited that edge of the lake and walked it, resigned to see the glacier from a distance. This time, I would get to walk on it!!
One of our vantage points, the Mirador Lago Grey, was close to the highest point on this trail sitting at around 250m over sea level. By virtue of its location and altitude, it offered phenomenal view of the glacier straight ahead. And it was WINDY up there!!!
Among the beautiful scenes I saw was this marsh or bog (not sure what it was, technically) which sat, across the lake, the Grey glacier. Out of a movie!Another neat spot was when we crossed the small but quite powerful Rio Olguin. We were getting close to the destination! And finally, we arrived, 4 hours and 15 minutes later! The Refugio Grey was very welcoming and a great place to rest and relax. The outdoor seating area hosted us as we sipped some wine after showering. Eventually we made it inside for a great meal (carne mechada and rice chased by chocolate mousse!) and camaraderie. Soon thereafter, I crashed, ready to let my body recover before our fun-filled Day 2!
——– Read more about the trek ———
Day 2 at Torres del Paine
Day 3 at Torres del Paine