344 Tierra del Fuego to Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine, Chile—Jan. 1-2, 2014
Woke up New Year's day in Punta Arenas ... on like 2 hours of sleep. Breakfast at estancia ... headed out but went further south a bit to check out some wrecked ships & as we were looking out noticed a bunch of dolphins next to the ship.
Headed towards Puerto Natales ... saw guanaco & rhea. Then on road to Torres del Paine saw gray fox & a hairy armadillo. Lots of birds & sheep of course. A few goats mixed in.
Then to the Torres del Paine ... quite spectacular, no sense in even trying to put it in words. Ever since reading a book (w/photos) about climbing in Torres del Paine some 20 years ago we've been itching to go.
Stayed on the Rio Serrano ... early next morning woke up & backtracked into the park to the trailhead for the Torres. Our car has a small tank & runs thru gas fast so kind of have to budget gas even though we filled up in nearest town so we have enough to get back ... did the Torres hike (most people that visit Torres del Paine actually don't see the towers ... the above mountains are in front of them ... not to mention the clouds) ... started out really windy & cold & sleet, but turned sort of to sun off & on, which was a nice surprise because they were forecasting rain/snow so we were expecting the worse. The weather here is really unpredictable & changes one moment to the next.
Hiked up the hill & into a valley along some river ... the tips of the Torres visible at times ... flurries here & there of light snow (mind you this is the equivalent to July for those in the northern hemisphere). By the time we got up it cleared up & we ate lunch & drank a bottle of water straight from the chalky aqua-blue lake ... tasted like eating snow. Again, beyond words.
Hiked back ... not too hard of a hike, 22 km total. Got back to the car & tried to see about a boat to the glacier but no go. Ended up doing another short hike up this short mountain called Condor vista or something like that ... & actually saw a condor from the top.
Jan 3, 2014—El Calafate, Argentina
Woke up in Torres del Paine, drove back to Puerto Natales. Needed to get some permission documentation for the car to take it across the border to Argentina, but of course the rental place fucked up & the documentation wasn't due to arrive (by bus!) from Puntas Arenas until later that day, even though the guy in Puntas Arenas promised it would be there. Had to haggle with them & went away to get coffee & a last meal with my uncle & nephew ... back to the rental place they finally determined they could scan the document & email it & print it (rocket science!). Took our uncle & nephew to the bus station & said our goodbyes (they were headed back to Puntas Arenas & Puerto Montt & back to San Martin del Los Andes where they live & where we were before this).
Back to being just the 2 of us ... j & i ... went thru the whole border crossing exchange again ... migration from Chile was fast & easy but huge line at immigration to Argentina as a bus or 2 was crossing. But by the time we got thru we were the last ones left except for some backpackers from NYC ... they were on a bus from Argentina to Chile but ends up one of them didn't have the proper paperwork so were removed from the bus & had to go back to Argentina. We offered to give them a ride to the nearest town & then when we got there the bus station was dark & ended up they were going back to Calafate anyway so we gave them a ride. Interesting guys. The drive to Calafate was pretty boring & homogenous. Rained the whole way. Saw a few rheas, otherwise only sheep.
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