Torres. del. Paine. Amazing. If you travel to Patagonia, THIS is where you go. It is a national park that contains the “W” trail, which is a trek in the shape of a W. We decided that we didn’t have enough time to backpack the full W trek, so we instead hiked two of the three legs as day hikes. However, we would really like to go back someday to backpack because the facilities and backpack community here seemed really special.
On the first day in Torres we did the Towers trek. It was a 20 km hike through beautiful river valleys and forests, up to the towers that you see all over anything about Torres del Paine. As we neared the top of the trail, the terrain became very mountainous, rocky, and steep. The last 1 km was quite a scramble over very large boulders, gaining about 1000 ft. in elevation. I’d do it all over again, though, just for that view. Luckily, we have some pictures, because I can’t describe how beautiful it was. Look at the color of that lake!
We couldn’t resist a few geology photos on this hike. In this first photo, we are looking at the Towers (right side of photo) from the back side. On the back of the Towers, you can see the Cerro Tore formation, which is the dark rock on the top and bottom of the mountains and makes up the mountain on the left side of the photo as well. The Cerro Tore is a sedimentary turbidite formation, made up of sandstone, claystone, and conglomerates, and is Cretaceous in age (95-75 million years old). The Cerro Tore sediments were intruded by the Paine Granite (the grey rock in the middle), which is an igneous rock that was emplaced about 12.6 million years ago. The second photo shows a fault system within these same two units, and was taken at the top of the Towers trail.
The second leg of the W trail that we completed was the Grey’s Glacier hike. From our campsite, the trail head was only accessible by ferry, which was a lovely ride through glacial waterways. The hike was 22 km along the shores of glacial lakes, and was wonderfully flat relative to the towers, with a view of Grey’s glacier at the end.
During our time in Torres, we camped on a small farm outside the national park. This was one of the most picturesque campsites of our entire trip, in my opinion. Thanksgiving was the second night of our stay, and a proper American Thanksgiving dinner was requested from our travel companions on Didingo. Luckily, we were traveling with a chef, and though it wasn’t Mom’s cooking, this turned out to be one of the best Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had. We had a sheep from the farm we were camping on slaughtered and roasted over a fire, along with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, pumpkin soup, vegetable casserole, cranberry sauce, and homemade bread. YUM.
During our stay at the farm outside the national park, we stayed in a field surrounded by Lesser Upland or Magellan geese. The males are white with black bands while the females have gray heads and ruddy necks and banded lower bodies. These geese are similar to the North American Canadian goose in that they graze in fields, poop everywhere, and are considered pests by many.
The second bird we saw during our Towers hike was the Magellanic woodpecker. The woodpecker was a female, as noticed by the lack of a bright red head.