Hi everyone. It’s been a few days since our last update, so we thought we’d let you know what we’ve been up too!
Friday 15th Dec
Today the team had a later start than normal; with the aim to climb Cerro Paine – a hill immediately behind our campsite we an equally impressive look out towards the Towers. Given we were unlucky with our attempts to see the towards the team headed out into the rain positive that the clouds would clear.
The route was shorter than the day before, but was straight up with few steams for water or flat sections, after the first 10 minutes. Not perturbed we pushed on to the Linga Forests and slowly made our way up the slippery, muddy tracks, arriving at the tree line after about an hour and a half.
Here we entered the more open scree slopes that lead to the summit. Helpfully at this point it stoped raining… and started snowing! Not put off the team carried on to the summit and enjoyed a quick bite to eat, before our guides Nico and Paulo made us to a sun dance, to help improve the forecast for the next few days!
That evening we descend on the refugio, spreading our all our damp kit and playing cards for a few hours.
Saturday 16th Dec
Today was our first day walking with our big expedition packs, with the aim of walking from the park entrance to Camp Francis – approximately 17km.
Today was the first day we woke up to sunny skies, so we were all positive that our sun dance had worked! Breaking camp we loaded our bags with enough supplies for the remaining 5 days on the trail.
The walking was over easier, flatter terrain today making going slightly easier, even though we were weighted down by the extra weight of all our kit.
The view kept changing along the way, with each new hill bringing a different view and new, even bluer lake! Along the way we saw loads of wildlife – including at one point six condors circling overhead!
The afternoon saw the weather become a bit more unsettled, with waterproofs being taken off then immediately put back on before a bags were placed back on backs – such is the way in Patagonia!
Finally reaching Francis after a lovely walk along the shores of Lake Nordenskjold! Francis was a bit unconventional, with the team pitching tents on wooden platforms, above the wooded forest.
Sunday 17th Dec
Today we were headed into the French Valley, however with the promise of strong winds and heavy rain in the afternoon we decided to make an early start to make the most of any possible views.
After 30 minutes of walking we made it as far as Campo Italiano ahead of the majority of the crowds. This campsite marks the start of the valley proper and the team slowly started to wind there way up through more Linga Forests. After an hour we reach the first view point in the valley and were instantly battered by the roaring wind!
Not put off by this we carried on up the valley, reaching the Britanico view point by 11:35. The views here were amazing and weather looked to be holding out so we spent over an hour here taking photos and enjoying the view!
The afternoon saw us arrive back before the rain and majority of other campers, so felling slightly smug with ourselves we headed for early showers (only to be greeted with freezing glacial waters – hot water goes on at 6!)
Monday 18th Dec
Today we had a nice short day – only 10km until Refugio Paine Grande – so we were treated to a bit of a lay in… bliss! After a quick breakfast, we packed up camp for the second time and retraced our steps to Campo Italiano.
From here we crossed the worlds most rickety bridge across the a river – strictly one persons at a time! We were now entering the part of the National Park which was badly effected by wild fires in 2010 – all started by one trekker trying to burn their used loo roll! The trails around here are much more open and expose to the wind, surrounded either side by the trunks of burnt trees.
We stopped for lunch just above Largo Skottsberg, enjoying amazing views towards to The Horns and Paine Grande. Our vantage point gave us good views of the wind rushing across the lake, whipping the surface into a frenzy.
From here it was only another 45 minutes until the campsite, so we had our tents up by 15:30. Refugio Paine Grande has a lovely cafe/bar so we’ve spent the afternoon playing cards and looking at views towards “The Horns”. Rich and Chris decided “treat” their feet, by going paddling in waters of Largo Pehoe – which if anyone is interested – is absolutely freezing!!!!
We’ve got two more days left on the Trek, before we head back to Punta Arenas on Thursday for the next phase of the expedition.