Monday, December 7, 2009

Pete versus Torres Del Paine

Courtesy of Pete Heck

Ever since arriving in Patagonia, I have wanted to see the Torres Del Paine (known as "TDP" or the "Towers"). For those who have never heard of the Towers, they are part of a mountain range in southern Patagonia completely independent of the Andes. They were formed 12 million years ago when magma penetrated Magellan's basin and the rock gradually forced its way upwards. If you look closely enough you can even see granite in the towers. On our kayak trip we missed seeing them because of cloudy conditions. With one day left in Chile, this is something I was not going to miss.

Unfortunately, Dalene wasn't able to join me. She had come down with some bug that still is leaving her feeling exhausted and having no energy to exert herself. As much she wanted to go with me, she made the wise decision not to. (Editors note: I'm super bummed I missed this. D)

Early Sunday morning I was on 2 hour bus ride into the park. Deciding to do this hike was not cheap: park fees - CLP 15, 000, bus ride - CLP 15,000, Shuttle service CLP 5,000, equated to approximately $75CAD for me to go for a really long walk (16km approx.) and enjoy some scenery. I hoped it would not disappoint.

It was a pretty intense hike. The first leg is a 3km uphill trek which I was able to do no problem thanks to Albert's psycho cycle training program in Sucre. I reached the first camp in just over 1 hour when the map said I would take 2, so I had a nice break for lunch. I continued on hiking through many ups and downs until I reached a sign post that told me I was on the final ascent - a half hour scramble over boulders to the top. Although the scenery on the way to the Towers was spectacular, I was getting excited for being so close to what I came for.

On the way to the Towers

When I reached the Mirador my reaction said it all: "Holy F*ck!!" as I stood in amazement. I had not realized that an Aussie family was standing right beside me (no kids, just a Mom and Dad visiting with their daughter who went to Uni in Santiago). I apologized. They had a laugh and told me they actually had said the same thing. It was truly breathtaking.

The Towers are the three pointed structures behind me.

Although my photos turned out really well, they are nowhere near the experience of witnessing it in person.
So for the next 45 minutes I found an empty rock, away from the bustle of tourists, took some snaps, and just sat and reflected. What a place to sit and think. Although many thoughts came and went through my head, the 2 main things that stood out were:

1. How glad I am that Dade and I are doing this - nothing can compare to everything we are doing and experiencing and;

2. How lucky I am and how much I love the person I am sharing all these experiences with (even though she happened to miss this particular outing!)

Not wanting to leave, but having to in order to catch the bus back, is finally what tore me apart from the Mirador at TDP. I started my descent back down. All in all, an amazing day. The beauty and magic the park possesses is inspiring. Sure it may have been the most expensive hike I have taken, but the experience and memories made it easily worth it.

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