Let´s see... how to describe the ´Torres Del Paine´ experience.
Eight nights, nine days.
One hundred thirty five hard fought kilometers.
A section of massive vertical structures towering 3000 meters above seal level.
We encountered all sorts of funky weather patterns during our outing, from blue-bird gorgeous days to tempestuous snow storms with ridiculous gusting winds.
It´s easy to sit here and type this in the comfort of a hostel, with a cold beer in hand and warm pizza in the belly and focus on the good things, but that would not quite do the experience justice.
Torres Del Paine is renowned for being an erratic and unpredictable trek. So in that sense I am glad that we encountered the good with the bad. We had a really enjoyable first half, with wonderful weather and grandiose views of the peaks and glaciers. Our only difficulty during these few days was having to carry so much food on our backs, a problem we were addressing just as quickly as we could stuff food into our mouths.
We had a tremendous encounter towards the end of one particularly arduous day as we were entering the back half of the trek. About six in the evening we were strolling a pampa (field) when we happened to spot a puma about 150 steps ahead of us on the trail (we counted this later). It spotted us at about the same time and within about ten seconds had disappeared into the grass and shrubs. Later we learned that a mother and two cubs were known to be living in the area. Still having a hard time deciding how to categorize the experience... not terrifying but with a knowledge that these cats are capable killers it took a while to fall asleep in the tent that night.
Two nights out from finishing the circuit the bad weather set in. Beautiful to see the peaks covered in the seasons first snow, but disheartening to know that the pass was now closed. As a final definitive hard stop to our progress we learned an avalanche had taken out the trail on the other side of the pass in an area that was already quite treacherous. An interesting insight into what kind of frustrations many expeditions must face.
As a final note to link back to the title - we still don´t have a clear understanding of what a ´paine´ is. Best theory we have heard yet is that it is a native word for ´blue´in reference to the many glaciers that plaster the slopes in the area.
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