Parque Nacional Torres del Paine – Days 5, 6 and 7

Day 5 – Campamento Los Torres to Campamento Seron

While most people climbed to see the towers, I slept in. Then as they began to return, I headed out of camp. The trip back down the mountain is far easier than the walk up, plus I was fresher than yesterday. I stopped for a brief break at Chileno, then climbed the hill to where my trail yesterday met the main trail. I took a break before heading down, aiming for Hotel Los Torres at the bottom. With good poles, the trip down was easy and I passed many day walkers going the there way.

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The Hotel is extravagant, some calling it an eyesore, and there are a set of refugios not far from it for hikers to stay. I stopped for a coke, then headed on. From here on, I’m officially on the back of the park and there are less people. In fact, the only person I see until I reach camp is a man running – yes running – the other way early on. The trail led up a hill along a fence and through a forest of autumn colours on a 4WD track.

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It reminded me very much of walking in Australia. As I came down the hill an hour later in the hot beaming sunlight, I could see the beautiful yellow plains with Rio Paine weaving its blue green way through it. I could also see the shining roof of the camp building.

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I arrived on the plains and while it doesn’t look long, the walk just seemed to go on and on, mainly because there was little change in scenery and I was expectant of finding the camp after my long day of walking in the sun.

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Eventually I arrived at camp to find 5 other walkers already camping, today being their first day. It would seem that my little group of five is growing.

I set up camp and met my new travelling companions.

Day 6 – Campamento Seron to Refugio Dickson

The night was warm and I was woken at one point by a rabbit who must have mistaken my green tent for the grass in the moonlight; I heard it bounce off and go bounding away. Then later in the morning a puma was sighted in the field, but not by me. Gusts of warm wind began buffeting my tent as I began to get ready for the day, a vast difference to the cold winds of days past.

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The trail followed the river around initially on the plains, but quickly began rising into the hills and up the side of one particularly tall hill. At the top, the wind was gusting so heavily it was hard to walk, but we got a great view of Lago Paine with Rio Paine winding into the distance.
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Angry clouds rolled past the tall mountains at the other end of the valley, making odd shapes as they crossed the peaks, thankfully not heading towards us.
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We continued across the wind blasted hilltops before weaving our way along the side of the mountains at the edge of the plains. These mountains are the back of those we got close and personal with on the other side of the park. They look vastly different from here.

As we walked, the Patagonian Ice Field came into view at one end of the mountains, reminding me of my Antarctic trip not two weeks ago now. This was truly an unexpected and fantastic sight.

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We walked on and at the end of the plains we crossed a muddy valley and came to a sign that said ’45 minutes to camp’. After a rest, we continued, crossing beams of wood that had been placed to help us not get so mud soaked. We climbed a final hill and saw Refugio Dickson sitting at the end of a flat peninsula jutting into Lago Dickson, and a river wending past it.

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It was about here that the slight rain started. We crossed the hill and after a steep climb down, we made our way to the Refugio, where over a beer we stopped to wait out the rain. We then hurriedly erected our tents and went back to the refugio where the cook was hand making a meat and egg pie. It looked so delicious that I decided to sit in on the meal. It turned out to be an excellent decision.

Day 7 – Refugio Dickson to Campamento Los Perros

During the night it had been warm and I’d stripped off most my night clothes off. But at some point in the night there was a change and I got very cold, having to put everything on again and I still wasn’t warm. There was frost on the ground outside when I emerged. But along with the frost came blue skies and wispy white clouds.

Today’s an easy walk of only 9km and slightly up hill through a forest. Being short serves nicely as a warmup for tomorrow’s hard climb up and over Paso John Gardner.

We began walking around the hill that we’d climbed down last night in the rain and began the slow climb into the forest towards the most obvious pass through the mountains. At one point we came to a small rocky area which allowed us awesome views back to the ice field, then it was back into the trees. We climbed for most of the morning, vaguely following Rio Los Perros. The trail meandered through the forest before going around a large patch of the red moss I’d seen in Tierra del Fuego on the Paso de la Oveja hike.

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The trail then went down the hill to a bridge crossing a stream that fed into the river. After walking for a while we soon came to a waterfall…
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…where the Rio fed down into a narrow channel.

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We stopped for a look and a break before charging on. The forest flattened out and I somehow managed to leave my companion behind. An hour passed and before I knew it I’d crossed a pair of bridges and was out of the forest and climbing up a field of rock towards the Galcier Los Perros. After a stiff climb, zig zagging up the slope, I eventually arrived at the top and looked down across the glacier lake to the glacier itself.

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The view back down the valley where I’d come was just as impressive.

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From here it was another 20 min walk picking my way around the lake and across another rocky field before entering the forest to arrive at Campamento Los Perros.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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