ultramarinus – beyond the sea


We woke up at 2:45am, and could hear the sounds of drizzle and strong wind outside. Electricity was cut since midnight and we had to get ourselves prepared in the dark with our headlamp and flashlight discreetly without disturbing other hikers. After a “flash-light” breakfast, we put on our winter hats, gloves and jackets, had our hiking poles in hand, and packed our cameras and tripod in the backpack. Leaving the rest of the luggage at a locker, we left the refugio at 3:30am to embark on the final section of our W-trek up to Mirador (lookout) las Torres. The iconic granite towers of las Torres (Torres del Paine) are the symbol of the park, and hence the national park is named after them.
The past few days of hiking got us familiar with the trail conditions and signage, so even in the dark we could easily spot the right path in the woods, and cross the right streams without hesitation. Walking in the dark with only meters of visibility from our headlamp gave us a unique feeling: we were more focused on the trail while hearing became more sensitive than usual. Our eyes quickly got used to the dark only after minutes of hiking. The sky gradually brightened up at around 4:30am. At 5:00 when we reached the campsite closest to las Torres, we no longer needed our headlamps. The “Mirador” sign pointed towards a boulder path uphill. For the next hour or so, it would be the most difficult session of the W-trek. The sky was dull and our faces were cold. The rising sun beyond moving clouds formed a strip of orange glow along the horizon outside the valley. We both hoped that by the time we reached the top, there would be sunbreak to cast an orange glow on the famous granite towers. The chance was slim, but we didn’t lose our hope. Walking against the strong wind and rain on boulders for about 45 minutes, we could finally see the rock towers of las Torres and the glacier lake. After 4 days on the W-trek, we finally reached Mirador la Torres, our final destination. No magic moment, no orange glow on the peaks, but at least the towers were visible despite the mist. At the lookout, there were about 30 people scattered on the rocks. Some were sitting inside their sleeping bags while some were posting for photos in the wind. We set up our tripod and made a short timelapse.
After about 15 minutes, the weather got worse, rain had turned into snow and we could no longer see the towers. The wind had picked up its speed and we all had trouble keeping balance. One by one we found our way back down the boulder path carefully. On our way down, we encountered a few more people willing to brave the weather for the mirador. We were delighted of reaching Refugio Chileno safely at about 9:30am. We rested a bit, dried ourselves, and had a cup of warm water and a sandwich at the dining hall while watching all other people preparing rain gears and backpacks for their departure. At 10:30am, it was our turn to leave the refugio with all our belongings safely wrapped in rain covers.

* * *

Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought

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