Beginning the W hike I
As mentioned in the previous posting, I had taken a couple of weeks off from work to explore the Patagonian region in Chile and Argentina. It has been perhaps one of the best trips that I have ever made. From the tiny cobble-stoned streets filled with artwork in the bohemian quarters of Valparaiso to the grand majestic landscape of Torres del Paine to the big sky country that was Argentinian Patagonia, it has been one exciting, fast-paced ride.
One of the most strenuous and awesome part of the trip was the 4-day semi-backpack that I did in the notable Torres del Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine) called the 'W' hike. It is a land of beautiful snow-capped mountains and staggeringly gigantic granite towers, hanging glaciers and glaciated valleys, numerous teal colored lakes brimming with pure glacial meltwater and vast rivers of ice emanating from the even large Southern Patagonian Ice field.
It is, without any doubt, a strenuous hike. 4 continuous days of hiking, amidst periodically bad weather, carrying a total of 55lbs of gear (including camera and tripods) is no easy feat. But the rewards are boundless and the memories formed on this backpack are eternal treasures. It is not just the scenery, beautiful by itself, but the way you experience it, with a mixture of certain hardship, uncertainty and long-lasting bonds with transient friends that you meet. The heavy weight and adverse weather may weaken you physically, but the trials and tribulations strengthen you mentally. If there is one hike you want to do your entire life, this would be it.
Thankfully, none of the above thoughts were clouding my head as I set off for the hike on a beautiful late summer day in the Torres del Paine National Park. You get the view above from the bus as you enter the park. The ginormous towers stand steadfast, rising from the northern end of the Andean Cordillera, with a small pond in the foreground. Below is the Hotel Las Torres, where you officially begin the 'W' hike.
Torres del Paine National Park