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13th March
written by Justin


Check out Part 1 here!

Having awakened in camp fully rested, we had a nice breakfast of (you guessed it) oatmeal. However, we had a stroke of genius – prepare it using some of the apple flavored drink powder that’s left over from our water bottles! It was surprisingly good , given that we were just throwing apple sugar on top. Being equipped with our apple juices, we set off for the magnificent Valle Frances, the middle leg of the “W”. This is a day hike of about 3 hours each way, up from the valley floor to a mirador in the center of a circle of mountains.

The Beginning of The Trail

Of course, there’s a reason that nobody takes their pack up to Campamento Britannico, which is on the way to the mirador. That picture shows the near-vertical climb that we had to scramble up in order to get there.

The View Back Down

Once we finished the initially really rocky section, we began to be treated to some really nice views of the lake at the bottom of the valley, and the glacial river running down its middle.

The View Of The Glaciers

Of course, what is a mountain in Torres del Paine if it is not covered in glaciers? We got some nice views of mountain glaciers, including some loud rumbling avalanches. We were worried, at first, that we might not get to see too much of the Valle Frances, because of the dense cloud cover that you can see in the glacier picture. We weren’t disappointed, however, because the clouds lifted just as we were entering the valley:

The Shark Fin Mountain

I’ll let the photos say the rest..

The Parting Clouds in Valle Frances

The View to the Right

The View to the Left

The View Ahead

The View Behind

Amazing! Of course we had to say goodby sometime.. and we walked back down to Campamento Italiano.

Near Campamento Italiano

We then made ourselves a dinner of rice with meat flavoring and tuna. Big surprise! But you know, after a day like that a hearty, salty, oily, delicious rice stew really starts to sound good. We were so hungry we both burned our tongues with the first bite, instead of prudently cooling it :)

After sleeping, we got up and made some oatmeal. Since our apple oatmeal was such a success, we decided to make Tang flavored oatmeal. Well, that’s not quite as good, but it still beats regular unflavored and unsweetened oatmeal. Then we broke camp and headed for the last refugio in our W, Refugio Pehoe. This was the easiest trek in the whole W, being a nice flat walk for only 2.5 hours. We arrived at a really well-furnished camp, complete with bathrooms AND TP, and set up our tent. Leaving our packs behind, we decided to make a day trip in the afternoon to Glaciar Grey, an enormous glacier at the edge of the Patagonian Ice Fields, aka “Campo del Hielo” – literally, countryside of ice. This was a really pleasant hike. We soon encountered a little lake along the way that seemed to be “hanging” at a higher elevation than nearby Lago Grey.

Laguna Los Patos

Later along in the hike, we started to get a glimpse of the enormous Lago Grey, and its floating icebergs!
Then, after about 2 hours of hiking we made it to the mirador. The view from afar of this glacier is just stunning! We found a little private spot on top of a hill adjacent to the lake, and just sat and took it all in for a while. We had a few bits of chocolate, and returned to camp with the satisfaction of knowing that we’d accomplished our original goal – to finish the W of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine!

Glaciar Grey!

We were feeling lazy after we got back to camp, so we bought a sausage and some bread from the store there and made that our dinner. It was really nice to relax after we had finished our trek. Unfortunately the relaxation was not for the whole night, since the wind decided to pick up after dark. We were both constantly awakened by gusts of wind that seemed to bring the tent halfway off the ground (of course it was safely staked down but you can’t really tell from the inside). So we were both glad that we didn’t have to do any hiking the next day. We just took a boat back to a bus stop that would take us home:

The Boat

After the boat, we had a little bit of a wait at the bus stop, and we got to see this bird screaming and soaring as it found a bit of food for itself:

The Bird

And we rewarded ourselves, once we got home, with a shower and a nice big STEAK! (sorry to our vegetarian readers)

The Steak

This was a great finish to an epic trek!
Don’t forget to check out our SmugMug Gallery at justinandhazel.smugmug.com! Lots more to see there!

1 Comment

  1. Nigel Ball

    For some reason I feel strangely hungry.

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