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Day 76 – Torres del Paine Day 6 – Six Days, One Shirt (The Torres of Torres del Paine)

December 25, 2010

Location: Torres del Paine, Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

Date: Saturday, December 25, 2010

To see the torres for which Torres del Paine National Park takes its name you’re supposed to get up at 4:00 a.m. and hike so you can see the towering rock spires at dawn. Yeah, right.

Now, I’d like to say I chose not to get up at 4 a.m. I can’t. The alarm went off, I said some words that rhyme with “yuck” and “not one bit,” and I went back to sleep. At 5 a.m., I crawled out of my bag, ate a camp stove warmed breakfast, and headed up the mountain.

On the way up, we ran into groups of people making their way down—the break-of-dawners. Beaten back by the cold, they told us that daybreak put no sunshine on the rocks themselves. All morning they’d been covered in fog. Looks like we didn’t miss a thing.

Scrambling over frozen, rocky mountainside, we arrived well after 6 a.m. As you can see, we got a whole lot better view than the folks who got up earlier and braved (more) sleeplessness and (even more) cold. We too, however, were driven off the mountain by frigid winds and sleet. In the time we were there, it looked like the torres might actually get swallowed up in cloud cover.

Which really means one thing: when it comes to Torres del Paine, it’s better to be lucky than good. Today, we were luckier than those who got up before we did.

We were, however, less lucky than those who slept in even more. By the time we made it back to base camp, the sky hadn’t clouded over like we thought it would; it cleared. The torres spent the rest of the day in blazing, bright sunlight. Go figure.

The hike down to the bus pick up back to Porto Natales afforded us even more luck. Today, the winds weren’t killer. In fact, the hikers walking up the hill didn’t look frightened at all. Too bad.

So, after six days slogging, redemption, more rain, cheating, and killer Patagonia wind all in one frickin’ shirt, what can I say?

I can say that when you get on the bus back to civilization with a bunch of hikers, it stinks. Literally. It smells like feet except the smell comes off people’s shirts.

I can also say that a hot shower feels awesome. That sunshine without wind seems like a miracle. That your pack is lighter because you ate away most of your poundage. And a soft bed feels like you’ve nuzzled into the bosom of Soteria herself.

It fact, it almost feels like Christmas.

GALLERY: Click here to see bonus pictures including more views of the torres of Torres del Paine.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sally permalink
    February 15, 2011 12:42 pm

    I am proud of you overcoming your genetics and environment by toughing out cold weather.

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