What Not to Wear in Torres del Paine
After just 4 days in Torres del Paine which is in Patagonia in Chile, I am so glad I am now in a warm and cosy hostel.
Torres del Paine is a national park that is full of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, weird animals that look like llamas and some of the purest water on the planet. You can just get on your hands and knees over a stream and suck up the water like a dog. It's pure and ice cold because it's being peed out by a glaciers.
I hiked more in 4 days than I have hiked in the past 3 years. We did the "W" which is a hike that takes you into two valleys between the mountains.
Before the trekking adventure began, we stayed at a hostel called Erratic Rock in Puerto Natales, Chile. Interesting fact: An erratic rock is a rock that is picked up by a glacier and is moved to a different environment. Everyday at 3PM, Erratic Rock hosts a "talk" about the park and some advice as to what to do and how to prepare.
The guy who gave the talk was Rustyn - a guy from Oregon with dreads. His talk was full of awesome advice. One of his suggestions for surviving Torres del Paine was to set aside a pair of clothes that you sacrifice each day to the elements. Whatever the weather throws at you, you just plow through it with these clothes.
That means if it starts to pour down rain, you let it rain all over you and you get completely soaked. He said the sun will soon come out and you'll be dry within the hour.
The idea is that you don't have to pull out a big rain jacket when it starts to rain and then leave it on after the rain stops in fear that it will soon rain again. Then you'd start to sweat a lot and get the inside of your jacket wet. And then you'd get your dry clothes wet when you're at your campsite.
Great idea! We started our journey on the "Q" which is a relatively flat trek with all the beautiful snow-capped mountains in plain sight the whole time.
I had on a thin t-shrit and my every-day thin pants. That's it. It was cold. But remembering the advice of Rustyn, "If you're cold, move faster." So I moved faster.
My body started to warm up. I was encouraged. Then it started to rain. And it was sooo cold. But I kept hiking fast to keep up my body temperature.
Then the rain started to turn into sleet. You didn't think I meant that cold did you? I looked down and noticed that I had some drool or snot on my shirt. Then I touched it - it was ice!
At this point, I'm thinking - "This goes against everything my mother ever taught me about being out in cold weather." I don't care how fast you walk and use your arms - if you're outside in sleet and all you're wearing is a t-shirt that's soaking wet, you're going to get hyporthermia.
Luckily for my health, the sun soon came out and dried us out in an instant. This time of year the big hole in our ozone layer happens to position itself over Patagonia, so I don't know if that played a factor in drying us out faster.
The next day I wore my rain jacket during the hike and I'm glad I did because we hiked up into the valley of the mountains. There was snow all over the place. And the sun never came out which means, I would have never dried out which could very well have killed me.
Apparently it's abnormally cold in Tores del Paine for this time of year.
To make a long story short (and don't worry - you'll see the full story in Video Podcast Episode #13), we hiked in a bunch more snow. We hiked about 17 miles on day 3. My knee started to hurt so badly that I could barely go downhill without saying a swear word with every other step. Now my knee feels better though - thanks for asking.
Speaking of video podcasts, I'm going to try my hardest to get Episode #11 launched tonight, but since I've been without computer access for the past 5 days or so, I've got a lot of work to do!