Freely translated: “Towers of Pain”, but I will get to that part later on. On Tuesday 1 January in the afternoon I took the bus into Torres del Paine National Park, and the catamaran got me the last bit to the Paine Grande Lodge. Before long I decided that roughing it on this trip would refer to the hiking itself, not to dragging around and putting up a tent, or creating warm evening meals. The accommodation and evening meals were provided by the refugios.
It was a good thing I did not start the hiking on 1 January, because it was raining all day long. On Wednesday there were still some showers, but much less. From Paine Grande I hiked to refugio Grey for some coffee and lunch. Along the way there were some good views of glacier Grey. All in all a good introduction day to the park, ended by a nice hot shower and dinner in the lodge.
Thursday would be the longest day: all the way from Paine Grande to refugio Los Cuernos, including the side trip to the Frances Valley lookout. Luckily the weather cleared up and it was dry all day long. The views from the Frances Valley lookout were amazing: 360 degrees of mountains and turqoise blue lakes. But it was a tough day: hiking from 9.00 to 18.00 with only a few short breaks.
Friday I could still feel Thursday’s hike in my legs, but it would be the shortest day, so that helped a bit. Since there were no lookouts between refugio Los Cuernos and refugio El Chileno, it was not the most interesting hike. Weatherwise it was OK: clear blue skies, but very hard winds. I literally almost got blown off the trail, only by holding on to some brushes I managed to prevent it.
Today all made up for it though. I left at 6.30 and reached the Torres del Paine lookout at 8.10. This is one of those places with a very high probability of bad weather, like Milford Sound in New Zealand. But like Milford Sound I had the luck of being there on a day with clear blue skies. Because I left so early I also got the chance to enjoy in it peace, before all the dayhikers arrived. On the way back I kept singing the few lyrics that I know of the song “Perfect Day”. Beautiful view in the morning, only having to walk downhill to the bus, wind in my back, and saying “hola” to everybody walking uphill: it was a perfect day.