Monday, 8 March 2010

Torres Del Paine in the Arse

I booked into a cool hostel. Had one last dinner with the Germans, and said goodbye to them. At the hostel, I got down to business meeting all of the chaps there. Daniel, an American cyclist was heading north, as I was, so we decided to cycle together. We planned to leave at 6:30am the next morning but by 5pm, this loafer was still not ready. finally we left in the evening and cycled 40km past Cueva Del Milodones, got chased off by a moto-cop after trying to camp there, but soon found a nice spot with a river nearby and an improvised bench for cooking (curried rice).

40-60km into the next day ripio roads, great views, and hard climbs we were at the entrance to park Torres Del Paine and after some deliberation we decided to hide begind a bush, have lunch, then sleep until 11:30pm. All this was for a sneaky attempt to sneak into the exhorbitantly expensive national park for free. We crept through the entrance without our headlights on to avoid unwanted attention, avoided the CH15,000 fee and pushed our bikes along a road for an hour or so before finding a spot off the road (couldn´t actually see anything in the dark) and unpacking our sleeping bags, no tents. We were undiscovered the next morning. A black horse appeared out of the morning mist, alone, in the plains. Ominous. Found I had lost CH30,000 after the wind blew it from my pocket. Karma.

A beautiful ride through hilly ripio ended at Hosteleria Los Torres. We stashed our bikes and kit behind a nearby bush, and with packs on our back, began the 7km walk up the mountain to meet with Max, an Aussie cyclist, and Rebecca, Dan´s friend, at a free campsite. The campsite came into view just as the sun set, after a hike through stunning surrounds. We cooked dinner, met our friends and exchanged news.

On the cards for the next day was a return walk to ´Tres Torres´, which was certainly worth the difficult boulder scramble to get there. We Tres Torres in the morning sun, beautiful spires of granite rising from a glacial lake. Climbed back down, heading to the hotel, I mighty walk. Danny and I packed our bikes and left the park (no problem getting out) and camped in some wind-wracked spiky field. The rain had come to say hello too, so we both sat in the vestibule of my tent and failed at cooking a rice dinner.

At about midnight I heard the crack. A bad feeling. Minutes later half my tent had collapsed due to the rubbish weather. I decided to ride out the storm inside the busted tent until morning. I awoke when Danny screamed "Oh no!" after looking at my tent. Awoke in a bath of water. If it werent for my waterproof MacPac sleeping bag, surely I´d have had hypothermia. The sharp broken pole had torn a two foot wide gash in the rainfly. Had to choke back the anger at how this had happened to my ´wind-proof´ swiss tent, and laugh. The day continued badly, roaring wind and poor ripio. Hasty lunch in a bus shelter. Got to Cerro Castillo (south) and discovered it was rubbish. "Like Nevada" exclaimed Danny. After two coffees and three hours around a stove in a cafe (were fed by a stranger who took pity, his sons a mountaineer) we made the decision to take the bus to El Calafate.

Bike looking lovely after the abuse of Torres del Paine

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