After two nights of dodging Mylodons in Puerto Natales we headed to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Bruce Chatwin sums up our experience in the park with this truthful quote from In Patagonia, "There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass". Torres del Paine (Towers of Pain) is not for the faint hearted. In fact, I strongly suggest they rename the park to "Tierra de Paine" or Land of Pain. The wind blows sooooo hard at times you have to grab hold of a tree not to get swept away (70 MPH +). More than once we were awaken by our tent poles buckling in the wind and the tent threatening to dislodge itself from land with us in it. The thorns are long, sharp, and everywhere. Even the bushes that appear soft and pillow-like are covered in daggers. The grass is bone dry. One slip while cooking at camp could result in a catastrophe similar to earlier this year when a large portion of the park was burned due to human error. Moving forward, once you settle into the rigors of life in Southern Patagonia, you are rewarded with some of the most beautiful sights in all the world.
|Torres del Paine|
|Post 80 MPH gust|
|Mags fronted by Dickson Glacier|
We spent five days and four nights trekking and camping within Torres del Paine's geological spectacles. Granite spires thrust upwards towards the sky with an aggressiveness that strains the neck. Bright blue glaciers spill over mountain faces into vividly colored lakes. Glacial blue rivers run rapidly daring one to step foot into their near freezing waters. Mountain peaks expose themselves sporadically in-between heavy snows. Waterfalls gush from above. Rainbows fill the sky while the sun shines to your left and rain pelts you from the right. The fauna is equally amazing. We witnessed a pair of Magellanic Horned Owls in early morning solitude, dozens of Guanacos grazing freely, Pink Chilean Flamingos in glacial lakes filled with graceful Black Necked Swans, and more Birds of Prey hovering above us than we could count.
|Sunny break in-between hail storms|
|Lago Dickson stands before Dickson Glacier|
|Moment of solitude amongst the crowds|
All in all it was exhilarating. There is nothing like waking up and looking out of the tent onto the overwhelming Torres del Paine. We have vowed to visit again and have a list of folks that we'd like to bring along. Who's in?