Monday, January 27, 2020

Chilean Patagonia: Day Four - Patagonia Ain't Easy

On day four of our Chilean Patagonia adventure the Wife and I went our separate ways.  The Wife would take a tour of the historic hotel and a half day bike ride to see caves with mylodon fossils.  I would do a full day hike on the Water Path Trek.

The mountains of Torres del Paine national park.
I met the group who were going for the trek in the concierge area. The people in the hotel were from all over the world including Lithuania and Slovenia.  We got on our bus and road the ninety minute drive to the trailhead in the Torres del Paine national park.

Guanaco.
The bus stopped several time along the way to see condors, guanacos (a cousin of the llama), rhea (an ostrich like flightless bird), grey fox (with a mouse in it's mouth), and vistas of the park's mountain ranges.

Rhea.
At the trailhead we followed the Water Path that passes lakes and streams.  It was a little chilly and the wind was strong but the sun warmed me up most of the time.  The hike was about 8 miles (12.9 km) long with around 1,435 ft (437.4 m) of elevation drop. Half way we stopped at a viewpoint that overlooked a lake with mountain vistas beyond.

As I ate my hotel provided bag lunch I sat on a log in the sun but exposed to the wind.  Looking down at the lake you could see the chop on the water.  I was also very tired.  Up to this point the trail was relatively flat and at an altitude lower than my backyard. I guess I've been too sedentary since i returned home from the Appalachian Trail ... or perhaps I was still recovering.  Most likely it was a bit of both.  At this point I decided that the kayak trip I'd planned for tomorrow was starting to look less desirable.  I decided to cancel the kayaking trip once it dawned on me that there were better places in this world to kayak ... like Belize, Bora Bora, or Bali.

The reward at the end of the hike.
The highlight of the hike was near the end.  We climbed up to a viewpoint with a spectacular view.  From there we hiked down what I would consider a strenuous - even dangerous - steep trail down over a thousand feet to our waiting bus.  I would normally consider an eight mile flat hike to be moderate as this hike was classified but the steep descent at the end should have upped the difficulty to hard.  We had a snack before we returned to the hotel.

If you turn your back on the vista in front of you, you often see another.
As I was waiting for the Wife to get back from her biking excursion I received texts from her.  She had fallen twice.  The bike ride (on mountain bikes) was way too hard for her and others in her group.  She texted that like hell she would be doing her hike the next day.  That sealed the deal for me.  I went to the excursion coordinators and canceled my kayak trip and the Wife's hike.  Sadly, age is catching up with both of us a bit faster than I expected.

Pictures can be found in my 2019-2020 Chilean Patagonia Google Photos album.

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