Day 1 in Torres Del Paine National Park
After a full day of traveling northwest from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, we finally arrived at the Torres Del Paine National Park at dinnertime. It was finally here, what we had in our minds prepared for-our 7 day hike at the park. There were two main hikes that people do at the Torres Del Paine park.
They either do the 10-12 day full circuit hike which basically covers the entire circumference of the park or they do the 5-8 day hike which encompasses the “W” circuit where the most well-known views are seen. Based on the amount of time we had allotted for this trip, we decided the “W” route would be the most plausible. So here we were, excited and nervous for what the next week had in store for us. What kind of weather we would encounter, how we would physically endure it all and not want to kill each other by the end of it all.
When we arrived at the park, we took a ferry to our first camp. The ferry ride was hands down the most beautiful ferry ride I’ve ever been on. The water was a piercing turquoise blue color and you could see the backside of the Andes mountain range in which the Torres Del Paine Park is named after. Carly and I took in the views with awe and snapped more pictures than were probably necessary but you can never take too many pictures right? The ferry was filled with about 100 other backpackers and their hiking gear which was also quite a sight, seeing all the gear piled up in the hull of the boat. It almost gave us a sense that we were all in this together. The variety of hikers was incredible. There were people from all over the world, some friends, some family, and some traveling solo. We spent most of our ferry ride on the viewing deck of the ferry socializing with other hikers and taking in the views. One thing was for sure, there was bound to be a language barrier throughout the trip. Maybe part of our preparation should have been to brush up on Spanish! That thought never crossed our minds haha.
While on the ferry we met a friendly brother and sister that were native to Chile and very
familiar with the park. They spoke English fairly well and informed us that it was supposed to storm (rain/snow) the entire 7 days we were there. That is when the panic set in. Did we pack enough warm clothes and rain gear? Would our tent survive the weather? Only time would tell….
When the ferry docked at our first campsite area, we started to scope out places to put up our tent. The tent was an ultra light 2-person tent that I’d borrowed from a friend for the trip. In all honesty, I don’t have a ton of experience tent camping so I made an effort to practice setting it up in my apartment prior to leaving. It seemed fairly easy at the time although I did have some concerns that the floor of the tent didn’t connect to the sides. That would be a red flag to most people right? Sleeping in a tent that is exposed to the outside allowing for bugs and spiders to sneak up on us (eeeek!) I didn’t spring this fact on Carly until we were inside the park and on the ferry headed to the campground. She had a nervous laugh when I brought it up but didn’t say much about it. Maybe her subconscious at the time thought that I didn’t know what I was talking about and must have made a mistake. So, here I was trying to set up the tent in an area with the best view of the campground and park. I put together the tent, like I had practiced and then reached for the rain cover but was having trouble figuring out how to attach it so I sheepishly approached Carly for her help. In that moment, Carly started giggling and then couldn’t control her laughter. Once she could utter a complete sentence, she explained to me that my “rain cover” was actually the tent and my “tent” was actually the “rain cover”. So it turns out there is a reason she is the survivalist of our duo and I handle the logistics. Haha. I couldn’t be more humiliated so after I suppressed my embarrassment at my lack of camping knowledge, I couldn’t help but laugh with her. This was sure to be a learning experience.
After our tent was set up and organized as best as possible, we took the rest of the daylight hours to admire the landscape, treat ourselves to a local Chilean beer and socialize with a few Chileans that we had met on the ferry ride. It had been a full day and we needed all the rest we could get before starting our 7-day hike in the morning.