The truly adventurous spirits come here and do the “circuit”. The W, or the O – where they spend 3-7 nights in the park hiking all the trails and sleeping in tents while weathering rain and extreme winds. I am adventurous – but I have nothing on most of the people I have met while staying in Puerto Natales. I spent a full day in the park, hiking an 8 hour trail before heading back to town. I did the first stretch of the W and chose a bright beautiful day to do it.
Puerto Natales is the closest town to Torres Del Paine. People stay here before and after their time at Paine. It takes an hour and a half by bus from here to the national park. The park is filled with Mountains, lakes and glaciers. It is best known for it’s iconic “towers” – Los Torres, the rocky cliffs which reach toward the sky.
Bright and early, 7:30 am, the bus leaves Puerto Natales for Torres Del Paine. I headed there solo, intending to walk to the trails and take photos and enjoy the beautiful scenery. On my bus ride there, I met Ella. Another solo traveler who I ended up spending the day with, and she helped make my adventure more special that I could have imagined! Ella is a sweet, free-spirited, quirky Australian making her way through South America for the next year of her life, and without a doubt my new Amiga.
We decided to do the 8 hour trek to Base De Los Torres – The base of the towers. We started off taking our time, leisurely strolling up the mountain and taking lots of pictures. Eventually, time occured to us – and we realized we had to make it to the finish and get back by the time our bus came at 7:30 pm. It would be our last way home for the night without hitchhiking. So we sped up as much as we could, and that was not an easy task.
For me, and probably for many, there comes a point in any difficult hike where I think “What the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this? This isn’t fun… this isn’t even close to fun… This is downright torture, I’d be crazy to put myself through anymore of this. My legs hurt, I’m tired, I’m hungry… But I’ve come this far….” Thankfully, I had Ella with me. Her positive outlook was encouraging. She also had to push herself to the finish line, but maybe with a few less complaints than me. Particularly on the way back – we needed to motivate each other to keep moving. One foot in front of the other.
Talking to her throughout the day was really special. She found the most adorable metaphors to relate both the beauty and hardships of our hike to other things in life. She was an excellent reminder that we should live in the moment and appreciate the here and now. Don’t worry too much about the future or cling too strongly to the past.
Thanks again Ella, I can’t wait until our paths cross again.