Thursday, February 23, 2012

Torres Del Pain(e)

 13th to 16th Feb

As we headed to Torres del Paine the signs were ominous. The closer we got the colder it got in the unheated truck. I started with thermal long johns, pants, short sleeve thermals, shirt and jacket. I will call this defcon 5. Then at regular intervals we moved up the levels.
Defcon 4 - gloves went on
Defcon 3 - beanie went on
Defcon 2 - jumper went on under my jacket.

Our Tent
I could not get to defcon 1 (long sleeve thermals) until we got to the campsite, but once at that level I stayed in the same clothes for the next 4 days. I have not camped for at least 30 years, and that was in sunny Perth. So how did I get in this situation? Well Elizabeth did apparently tell the travel agent that I don't do camping but when going through the documents I found the camping component and pointed it out. Elizabeth held her breath worrying about my reaction but I said 'why not, the whole idea of this trip is to not say no', big mistake.




Mummy can we go back to Rio


With temps near 0 every night I had a sleeping bag inside a sleeping bag and dressed at defcon 1. It is highly unlikely I will ever camp again, and big tip, batteries don't like extreme cold. My phone would go flat by 2am and I did not know why but by the last night I had the idea to leave it in my pocket all night and it was still charged by morning. Camera batteries also seemed to die quicker, and by morning everybody's bladders are busting as nobody wants to go to the loo in the dark (the electric generators are turned off at midnight).

Happy Valentine´s Day after 4 hours and 9 km


Apart from that it was magic.
Day 2 was the towers walk, 9 km up a varied terrain including cliff edges, beautiful forests, rickety bridges and finally scrambling over big boulders and scree, the view is amazing as you are surrounded by snow topped mountains and with a lake perched between them. It was snowing up there while still fine down below. It took 4 hours up and the same back down. Once at the top and we perched ourselves under a boulder and ate our packed lunches drinking in the scenery. The day we did this? Valentine´s Day.

The Grey Glacier from our boat.
Day 3 was the Grey Glacier boat trip. Like most of the glaciers in Patagonia this glacier is shrinking and it was important to us to see it in its full glory before climate change reduces it further. It was huge, in 4 different sections and way over our heads. Each section had a different texture, from smooth, to jagged to looking like marshmallow, I even saw a bit break off and fall into the water.





Day 4 was pack up time but we whiled away the last 2 hours in this Shangri la with an early morning horse back ride through the forest with the snow capped mountains for our scenery. This is only the second time I have ridden a horse, the first time being with my kids when they were littlies. The horse I got then was called Rambo and he was definitely in charge. The horse I got here was gentle, if not a little timid and gave me a lovely ride, except for when I blew my nose and scraped a sign when he would do a little gallop as he got spooked. Straight after the ride we all hopped in the truck and set off to our next destination.