In preparation for our trip to Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, I had obviously seen numerous incredible pictures of the Towers (Las Torres). I had also seen many awe-inspiring pictures from my parents’ hike to the base of the towers year earlier, so at some level I felt like I knew what to expect. Our drive into the park the day before greatly heightened our excitement to see the Torres up close as well. As we arrived at our hotel the evening before, the Towers shot up just past the Horns imploring us to visit (not that we needed any further motivation). Logically, I’d have to admit that the wonders of nature possess a wild, stoic indifference to our human sensibilities; however, nature’s simple ability to nurture the human imagination and adventurous spirit is undeniable. There are certain mountains and wonders of the world that seem far too implausible for the human imagination to create; perhaps too disproportionate to have been created by a God or Gods. Whether one lives with religious persuasion or religious evasion; the more one explores the universe the more one is challenged to expand the boundaries of our spiritual or earthly existences.
Before I step into the start our hike to the base of the towers, I wanted to make sure to provide this brief reflection on my time in Torres del Paine National Park. The trip stirred emotions and feelings that would be unjust for me to have glossed over in my account. My future entries will delve deeper into this, so I suppose jumping into the hike now is best.
Going into our trip, we did not have a set agenda regarding which days we would go on which hikes. The evening before we reviewed the weather forecast and weighed our options as we watched the perpetual ripples torrent anxiously across Lago Pehoe. The weather in Patagonia is notoriously unpredictable and can shift with a unique suddenness. My knowledge is inadequate to provide a proper meteorological explanation; however, Patagonia’s extreme southern location and exposure to harsh winds off the nearby oceans is a major factor to be certain. Several days later, we experienced the inimitably chilling winds of the Strait of Magellan. We visited at the beginning of southern hemisphere summer, but still the term ‘wind chill’ was given new definition. Back to the day before on our; the forecast promised very strong winds in the afternoon, but seeing the base of Las Torres was a huge priority and desire for our trip. The warmth and calm of our beautiful hotel and soothing spirit of our Pisco Sours made the decision easier as well (I will discuss Pisco in more detail later, but for now I will simply define it as a delicious South American brandy fermented from black grapes). Alas, we decided to start our hike early and go for it! We were rewarded handsomely for this decision at every turn as our day progressed.
**Stats on our hike for the day: 11.8 miles, 2,700ft of vertical or 19km, 820m of vertical for the metrically inclined.**
P.S. Here is a video of our hike to the base of the towers! This is footage taken with our GoPro. I initially made this video for my family (and myself), so it may be a little longer than ideal. It was simply too painful or untruthful for me to edit our footage any further. I believe the picture summary of the day pretty well told of our hike, but check it out if you’re interested in more! Also, if you want a glimpse of the Patagonian winds I mentioned; jump to about 17:30 in the video for a good look. You can see the extreme bend of the trees in response to the areas wind patterns. The curvature of the GoPro lens exaggerates this slightly, but the way the branches adapt to survive in the wind is pretty cool.