ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Torres del Paine

DAY 65 (1 OF 3) – PAINE GRANDE TO ITALIANO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

When we planned our W-trek routing, we knew that today would be our longest and toughest.  The plan for today was to trek from Paine Grande to Camping Italiano at the entrance of the famous Valle Frances (French Valley).  At Italiano, we would leave our big backpacks at the guardhouse and hike up to the lookout near Camping Britanico.  Then we would return to Italiano to pick up our bags and continue the hike eastwards to Refugio Cuernos, our final destination of the day.  If everything went according to plan, the total walking time of today would be roughly 10 hours, with approximately 26 km in distance.
At 7:30am, we had a quick breakfast at Refugio Paine Grande, picked up our lunchboxes, and left the refugio right after.  The hike from Paine Grande to Camping Italiano at the entrance of the French Valley took us about 2.5 hours.  The wind was strong, but not as extreme as yesterday, thus we could still appreciate the morning scenery of the mountains.  By the time we crossed the spring bridge over Rio del Frances, Camping Italiano was already in sight.
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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

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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


DAY 64 (4 OF 4) – REFUGIO PAINE GRANDE, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

Located strategically at the ferry dock, and between Glacier Grey and the French Valley, plus the magnificent view of the most iconic mountains in the park, Refugio Paine Grande is a crucial accommodation hub for all trekkers in Torres del Paine.  Facilitated with 60 beds, a large dining hall, and a decent camp site,  Paine Grande is the most prominent among all the park refugios.
The dinner here was quite decent and filling.  After the meal, we spent quite some time photographing the mountains just in front of the main door of the refugio before darkness fell upon.
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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

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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


DAY 64 (3 OF 4) – PALETTE OF SPRING, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

Spring is a great time to visit Torres del Paine because of the colourful blossoms of wild flowers, orchids and Calafate berries. Most flowers are tiny here because of the strong wind and cold nights. We met some experienced trekkers who told us that there are 9 types of wild orchids in the park. We saw a few of them during our hike between Refugio Grey and Paine Grande.
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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

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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


DAY 64 (2 OF 4) – MIRADOR PEHOE, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

At Refugio Paine Grande, we were delighted to find a private room again; this time, it was a bunk bed in a tiny room.  After a quick shower and a brief rest, we were ready to go out again.  The super strong wind kept on banging on the window of our room, reminding us the brutal side of Patagonia despite its extreme beauty.  We decided to split again.  Angela would stay near Paine Grande to take pictures of Cuernos del Paine and return to the valley to photograph wild flowers, and Calvin would explore the trail along Lago Pehoe towards Administracion Conaf.
When we gathered back at Paine Grande again a few hours later, we both recounted our experience of the strong Patagonian wind.  Angela remembered how difficult it was to stabilize herself and the camera tripod.  The most impressive thing for her was the surreal-looking and ever-changing cloud formations.  Calvin remembered how unbelievably hard it was to balance himself at certain high points on the trail along Lago Pehoe.  Standing on the cliff above the lake, the scenery of Lago Pehoe and Cuernos del Paine was dangerously beautiful.  The notorious wind was so strong that lake water often got blown up the cliff and fell onto the trail like sudden rain showers.
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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

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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


DAY 64 (1 OF 4) – GREY TO PAINE GRANDE, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

Some people came to Glacier Grey as a long day hike (8 hours return) from Refugio Paine Grande, but we preferred to stay a night at Refugio Grey so that we could have more time at the lookouts at the glacier.  After some good rest and a simple breakfast, it was time for us to return to Refugio Paine Grande.  Glacier Grey was in shade in the morning, but the deep blue colour of the ice was still a beautiful sight.  As we approached Laguna los Pasos, we noticed the wind was significantly stronger than yesterday.  When we entered the valley near Refugio Paine Grande, the wind had really picked up and at certain spots it was so strong that we could hardly walk up straight.  From a distance, we could see high waves and water splashes on the surface of Lago Pehoe.  We were glad to arrive at the door of Refugio Paine Grande at about 1pm.
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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

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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


DAY 63 (3 OF 3) – GLACIER GREY, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

After dinner at about 8:30pm, there was still plenty of light outside.  We went out to the nearby lookout (15 minute walk from the refugio) for a closer look of Glacier Grey.  As part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Glacier Grey is regarded as one of the biggest highlight of Torres del Paine.  No one was around at the lookout.  We were glad to be alone for at least a moment to be embraced by the Patagonian wilderness.  We stopped at a beach where carved icebergs gathered.  Angela spent the time observing the moving clouds, distant mountains and wild flowers, while Calvin climbed up onto the ridge of a rock peninsula to get an unobstructed view of the glacier.  The wind was very strong and cold, but the majestic beauty of Glacier Grey was just irresistible. From the other side of the peninsula, we were excited to discover an ice arch just off from the main glacier.  On our way back, we made a detour down to another beach by Lago Grey to have a last look of the glacier and the ice arch from another angle.  What a fruitful evening!
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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

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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


DAY 63 (2 OF 3) – PAINE GRANDE TO GLACIER GREY, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

The catamaran docked near Refugio Paine Grande at 1pm.  From this point on, we had finally set foot on the W-trek.  We had four more hours of trekking ahead of us before reaching Refugio Grey, our accommodation of the night.  The 11-kilometer hike began with a pleasant walk through a valley.  At this time of the year, wild flowers including several orchids could be found everywhere.  Roughly an hour into the hike, we reached a lookout at a small glacier lagoon called Laguna los Pasos.  Half an hour later, we finally had the first glimpse of the blue floating ice on Lago Grey’s milky water.  Soon after, we were exhilarated to see the beautiful Glacier Grey from a distance.  From this point on, the glacier just got closer and closer from one lookout to another.  There was a fair bit of ascends and descends on the trail.  By the time we finally arrived at Refugio Grey, we were both tired and hungry.  Situated close to the front of Glacier Grey, Refugio Grey is a clean and simple mountain lodge with 60 beds in total.  The refugio wasn’t full, and we were delighted to find that we could have the room all by ourselves.
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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

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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