We hiked. Finally, we hiked. I know that everyone has different goals for adventure, and everyone has different metrics for what makes an adventure, but if we went to Torres del Paine and didn’t hike, I would have been disappointed.
The way in which they let us hike was brilliant, as it was in stages, so everyone could choose how much hiking they wanted. More people completed the ten miles than I expected–I was very proud of them. It wasn’t terribly easy.
The morning started out with a short protected hike in the woods. Patagonia being extremely windy, of course, it was nice to have the trees for cover. The hike was fairly flat, but with spongy, tree-rooty ground, that can cause problems. After that, we crossed a suspension bridge (maximum six people at a time), which was also surprisingly wobbly, and onto the glacial moraine (link for more info as to what a moraine is) in front of the Grey Glacier, and then to the peninsula.
Mary Joy made it to the moraine and then returned with several other travelers. The sky had gotten very grey at this point, and rain spattered occasionally.
I have some bad habits. I can admit this. One of those bad habits is that I like to go fast sometimes. Well, most times. Well…
I like to go fast on motorcycles, in cars, on foot. I love to run (except I have knee problems now, so I can’t), and so after a day of being in a bus, I needed to stretch my legs. So I stretched by going fast. Which may have been seen as anti-social, I don’t know, but I needed it. Like being hungry and not being able to eat. I needed to hoof it as hard as I could.
We took an extra trail back around the peninsula in front of Grey Glacier, and while most everyone else took the bus from a nearby parking lot back to the hotel, I walked the forest trail back with Jan and Marlene.
We met up in the lobby to grab brown bag lunches, and those of us who wanted more, hopped on the bus to go hike at another location, about an hour from the hotel.
We arrived closer to Cuernos del Paine, the blue horns, which are distinctive peaks in the massif. The hike was not particularly difficult, but the view was extraordinary. The Cuernos are interesting to look at because of the type of rock: the massif is largely granite, but the Cuernos have a granite band, while topped with dark sediment, giving a very distinctive look.
There were some people having a lovely picnic of wine and cheese, and others just sitting and admiring the view. We took pictures and goofed off, and as we were about to leave, we heard the thunderous sound of an avalanche. Apparently, native tribes did not live in this area, which has largely been attributed to this sound.
It was unnerving, and we were very far away from the site of the avalanche. I took out my binoculars and looked for the tell-tale puffs of snow. The weather began to change on us quickly, so we rounded everyone up and booked it out of there. I was wearing a very bright purple rain layer, and so I did my usual Speed Racer thing and was out in front. It began to rain hard. The wind kicked up, and the rain came in sideways, fast and sharp.
We had another few miles to go until the waterfall. Anne caught up with me at our one turn, and I took a second to look behind me at my fellow travelers. Everyone was doing fine.
We got to the waterfall, soaked, the rain still pelting us. I waited for everyone, standing in the rain, as my grandmother would have said, without the sense God gave a mule. Nicole ushered the last hikers to the overlook and looked at me. I started laughing.
I loved it. I loved the wind, the rain, the speed I took the trail. I loved the ten miles and the soaking wet. I loved that I would get back to a hotel and have chocolate chip cookies waiting for me (because I had purchased them at the convenience store where I did yoga the day before).
Nicole laughed too. And then?
The sun came out. We were drenched. A rainbow appeared. Jim and Paul loitered at the waterfall to take more pictures. Most of the rest of us went to the bus, where I mechanically stuffed the rest of my trail mix in my mouth with my chilled, blue-fingernailed hands.
Kristina took the opportunity to pick up trash that had blown into the parking lot, and Linda helped her.
My long johns that served as my wind layer were not drying. My pants dried quickly, as did my top, but my leggings were too waterlogged. I sat on my coat, my hands shoved in its sleeves, and we made our way back to the hotel.
Mary Joy had the room nice and toasty, as she lounged next to the massive picture window, in a very modern lounge chair, reading Maya’s Notebook, by Isabelle Allende, which takes place on Chiloe Island. She was the picture of leisure, and my teeth were chattering.
I promised to tell her all about the hike in a moment, but I needed to shower to get warm. That was when I finally realized why the floors were heated independently from the rest of the room. I pulled the towels off the racks that were only a foot off the ground, cranked the floor heat, and peeled my wet layers off, hanging them on the racks. Brilliant. This was not this hotel’s first rodeo.
My lips were blue, my fingernails purple, so I hopped in an incredibly hot shower. I don’t know how long I was in there, but probably longer than a conservationist would want me to be. I got out, and even though we only had an hour until dinner, I put on my pjs and slipped into bed.
My endorphins were soaking my system and I felt incredible. It was the best overall day.
Mary Joy snuck off to have an aperitif with Marlene before dinner, and I closed my eyes, sunlight streaming in the room, onto my bed, and I drifted off for just a few minutes, a very contented smile on my face.