torres del paine, chile
the tourism capital of southern chile
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile is the place everyone has heard of, the place everyone goes to explore. Now it is the tourist capital of southern Chile, and in the high season overrun with tourists hiking both the W and the O Loop. Expect, if you're going in January - February, to hike behind lines of tourists, to camp in a field with 200 tents, to be pressured to spend more money than expected. It is a commercial experience now, and we've all bought in.
Travel Tip: Reserve your camping online at least three months before you arrive in Torres. If you do not have campsite reservations you will not be allowed in the park.
We took the bus into Torres del Paine, registered, and then opted to hike to the O Loop trailhead, because it was only four miles and saved us $7 each. Plus we got to see this view the whole time, which was pretty awesome. Reese Wells.
Ever seen a line of 200 people trying to enter Chile's most famous national park? Now you have! It's a total clustermug, and one that I'm not anxious to repeat, but we got in the system and then were able to continue hiking into the park. Reese Wells.
Ah, what a refuge we've found! Refugio Dickson, set at the backend of the Torres 'O Loop,' was not as comfortable as this picture suggests, but dang was it beautiful. Reese Wells.
A rare flat field on the backside of the Torres 'O Loop,' this picture doesn't capture the whipping wind raking across our chapped faces, but it does offer a nice look at the colors we walked within. Reese Wells.
Glacial moments in sharp visual contrast to a surprise wash of viridian, and a long legged blonde named Tyler strutting off a fierce 2 mph. Thinking of memories in colors, and how even a light green can be bright surrounded by the many grey shades of scree. Reese Wells.
A better look at the iceberg out in the middle of Lago Grey. This thing is huge. Apparently some kayakers caught footage of the calving incident. I'd like to see that. Reese Wells.
I was pretty pleased with how this panorama turned out, I think it casts a really good look at the size of the glacier, and the sharp line where the glacier ends. Reese Wells.
Where the glacier meets the water. I love the iceberg floating out in the lake - don't let the scale fool you, that iceberg is the size of a large house. Reese Wells.
Clouds opening up to cast another blue hue on the scene, Glaciar Grey a bumpy ice white. Reese Wells.
Coming off the west side of 'El Paso' we're met with a glacier spanning across the horizon, and then more. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to be surprised this way. Grateful for the clear skies to enjoy the view. Reese Wells.
One of my favorite mountains I've ever seen. I wonder what happened to produce such an aggressive face? We met two climbers attempting to climb this face the next morning - they'd have to start well before dawn, and pray for good weather that's so rare in this southern part of Patagonia. Reese Wells.
Taking the middle prong of the Torres 'W' was totally worth it. Check out this outrageous panorama! My favorite is the sharkfin mountain in the middle third of the pano. Reese Wells.
I think that this glacier, spilling out from behind Punta Bariloche, looks to have the coloring and consistency of an oreo milkshake. Mmm. Reese Wells.
Tyler checking out Punta Bariloche, the big boy to the left. We're going to hike up that cut in the mountains today and check out the Britanico Overlook. Reese Wells.
Tyler, seconds after we saw a big Patagonian fox slink away through the shrubbery. Ever heard a fox bark? It's a painful, fingernails-on-chalkboard sound. Reese Wells.
What an amazing setting for a camp. Though this picture doesn't do the size and density of the camp justice, I do want to call attention to all these tents, and the number of people we saw and met! Reese Wells.
This beautiful blue lake is that certain sort of cerulean that makes me think of fairies and dwarfs. But, hey, that's just me. Reese Wells.
Not designed for platforms, we had to get creative to pull this off. But it was a comfortable enough experience, and the guylines were pulled tight enough to endure a midnight windstorm. Thanks Hilleberg! Also, this is a crazy camping setup, right? Reese Wells.
There. Here it is. The picture that we've all been waiting for. To fill the Google Image dump with another media file containing the iconic Towers of Paine. There's nothing special about this photo, other than we were there. It's not even our favorite part of the park. It's beautiful, but there are gems not so full of the public eye contained elsewhere. Keep looking. Secrets abound in the shadows. Reese Wells.
This is the Truth
I want to tell you a truth. An exact and precise truth. Like what the rivers tell the lakes as they flood into the still waters, fresh melt coming from high peaks to mix with the larger whole.
I want to tell you the whole truth. The complete and unending truth. Like what the mountains tell the valleys when conversations about glaciers and time lost float up from below.
The truth, the exact and precise truth. The truth, the complete and unending truth, is that life is like love, flowing from mountain to valley to river to lake, from high to low and then out to sea, where the fullness of it all is measured not by how far we can see to the horizon, but by how deep the water may be below.