Torres del Paine - Day 1
We awoke early. It was a long night of little sleep. After lying in bed all night wondering what I'd forgotten, I was glad just get up and go.
On the bus to the park, the stress of the previous 24 hours gave way to calm excitement. If I'd forgotten anything, it was too late now. My goal of making it to this place, our reason for traveling so far south, was actually coming true. It seemed so long ago when I learned of Torres Del Paine, to finally be going there was almost surreal.
As we neared the park, the mountains we would be hiking in came into view. Even from far away the park was impressive. The enormous scale of the place, it appeared simultaneously daunting and inviting. Massive pieces of granite jutted up from the ground, fading from the green of trees at the base up into the jagged black and white peaks of rock and snow. After driving nearly the entire length of the park to the southernmost starting point our bus dropped us off and left. We ate our packed lunch by a beautiful blue lake, relishing our final hearty meal of the week. Little did we know that day would also be the last chance we'd have to enjoy sunshine until we left the park.
After walking about 100 yards down the gravel road, we found the start of our trail. We paused, and said a few word about the start of a great adventure, and our hike began.
At this point I don't think it had really sunk in that I was actually in Torres Del Paine. Hiking the beautiful grassy fields with blue, glacier fed lakes and the mountains before me, blue skies and little wind, it just seemed too good to be true.
Our good weather held out for about an hour. Then the rain came. The wind. The cold. Remembering our guide's advice, I did not immediately go for the rain gear. I pressed on through the cold, hiking as hard as I could to keep my body temperature up. If it had been just a few degrees warmer, I think it would have worked but on that day in November, hiking in the near freezing rain with nothing but a t-shirt and thin pants, I was cold.
After a while the sun did come out again, and just as we were told the sun and the wind had us dried off and warm in no time. Again I was greeted by the beautiful views of the mountains and lakes I'd be walking around for the next 8 days. It was as if Patagonia had thrown it's worst at me, tested me, and then shown me why it was all worth it.
The weather held out for the remainder of our hike that day. We arrived at our first campsite warm and dry, but we set up camp hastily knowing that the weather could turn at any moment.
I was very glad we did because not 30 seconds after getting the tent up it started to rain. After a big spaghetti dinner we all went to bed early, it had been a long day and we had another one ahead of us. We were all asleep before dark.