Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Walking Torres Del Paine: The W Trek, Day 3

Day 3: "The Easy Day": Refugio Los Cuernos to Hotel Las Torres.

11km in 3.5 hours

Leaving Refugio Los Cuernos this morning was a real treat, wet boots and socks aside.  The rain had gone and while still in sight of the cabins we crossed a footbridge over yet another stunning waterfall.  For the entire morning, bright, white peaks dominated the view on our left.  A dusting of fresh snow had coated the steep rock faces while the tops were shrouded in cloud.  To our right, ago Nordenskjold was ever present, with clear views to snow capped peaks far beyond.

Between waterfalls the silence was broken only by occasional birdsong or a brief Hola as we passed walkers heading in the opposite direction.  The trail continued to be well marked, with ever present red posts and painted dots leading the way.

At first, the trail was as yesterday, rocky and wet but it later became easier as it turned to drier, hard packed dirt.  There were a few undulations but no real climbing today and the last hour the trail opened up into a wide valley with Hotel Las Torres in view.  We passed the turn off for tomorrow's walk up to the towers.  It begins up a forbidding valley, enclosed by dark rocks and another rickety suspension bridge.

The curve of the land
Pointing the way
 This was definitely the easy day at only 3.5 hours.  All routes so far have taken comfortably less than the time stated on the official maps, even with frequent photo stops, although it was too cold to sit still for long to eat lunch.  If we had known how long day 4 would take, we could have pushed on up to the towers today, following a shortcut path up rather than walking all the way to Hotel Las Torres first.

Footbridge near Hotel Las Torres
The Refugio here was temporarily closed and guests were instead staying at the Hotel Las Torres - luxury for us having been camping or staying in hostels of late.  But expensive at 3,500 Chilean Pesos just for a coffee!  We paid 50,000 pesos each for a triple room, again including three meals, with a packed lunch.  Inside, the hotel was lovely with big, open lounge areas and sofas and rocking chairs overlooking the mountains.  It was chilly inside, except for the bedroom which had radiators.  We were rewarded with a view of chimanga caracaras flying past, and the largest red fox I have ever seen walked up to the window.

Chimanga caracaras
The fox

Day 2                                              Day 4

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