Puerto Natales

10 Feb

I´m in Puerto Natales – Chile´s gateway to the mountains of the south, Torres del Paine. 

Ive got a few gaps to fill in the blog, from Puerto Madryn to El Chalten and El Calafate.  Ill have to do that once I get back from the trek.

The terrain will not be particularly rough, though four days in the mountains is no walk in the park.  The trails are clearly marked and there are even refugious on the mountains if you don´t feel like camping.  So why is Torress del Paine so extreme, attracting thousands of hikers every year?

A regional newspaper propiated the answer might be the weather.  Gorgeous sunshine one moment, torrential downpours the next.  And the wind the article wrote , is so strong that it can propell you up a mountain, only to send you falling when it dies down for a moment. 

Indeed, when I woke up this morning to look for a tent and sleeping bag to rent, I felt a bit of nervousness creeping up on me.  The clouds were an aggressive grey, the lake restless, and the wind made a simple walk to the store challenging. 

I spent 3 hours looking for an equipment rental store.  Apparently Chileans dont like to open shop early.  And when I finally found one, I was given the heaviest tent and sleepingbag they had on offer I think.  The sleepingbag barely fit into my pack at all, and the tent I knew right away would have to be carried on the outside.  Stuffing some canned food and pasta around the empty edges, I found myself with a pretty heavy pack and enough food to last a week.  Hey, I eat a lot.

Ive never done a multi-day trek this long, and Ive never camped by myself.  I feel like a nomad, about to embark on some kinda spiritual quest.  Though the reality is Ill probably connect with a group and get drunk in the campsite. 

Or maybe, with nothing to do but hike and think, Ill finally figure out what I want to do with my life by the time I come back down!

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