Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hiking the O in Torres del Paine

The big destination of our trip was an eight day trek in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Like our time near Fitz Roy, the weather did not disappoint. We hike the O, which includes the much more popular W trek.

There is a lot to say about this trek and the eight days we spent on it, but for now I will just share some highlights. 

We hiked counter clockwise, starting at Laguna Amarga. The first two days were absolutely lovely - blankets of wildflowers and a well-maintained trail. As a bonus, we hardly saw anyone. Even though there were lots of people hiking the same itinerary, we all spread out during the day. 

The trek includes a pass infamous for high winds and being socked in. It did not disappoint. It was probably gusting up to 60mph when we passed through. And it was raining. But once you're in it there's really nothing to do but keep going to stay warm. Luckily once you cross the pass it's not far until you drop down into the trees and protection. 

Our view of glacier Grey descending the pass was perhaps not what it could have been, but the view from the lake the next day more than made up for it. The fascinating sedimentary geology was an extra bonus. 

The French Valley is a side trip off the O, but absolutely worth it. The view point at the top is breathtaking. The scale of the granite walls all around the valley is overwhelming. 

And of course, the Torres del Paine themselves. Well-worth the last 45 minutes of rock scrambling and hiking to get to them. The dramatic evening light silhouetting the Torres added a special touch. A perfect way to end the O. 

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