Today marks the first day of our trek of the O. Our bus left Puerto Natales bus station promptly at 7:30 am. The bus ride was about 2 hours long. Before the bus even get to the entrance of the park, I had a glimpse of the Torres. The excitement on our bus was palpable. I joined excitable tourists and started to snap pictures.
The bus made a mandatory stop at the park entrance and everyone got off the bus for registration. We were required to present 1. Passport; 2. Camping reservation; 3. CP 21,000 (approximately $35) per person. We also watched a short video regarding camping rules like fire regulations, leave no trace, etc. The process took about 30 minutes.
We got to the boat dock around 11. It turned out we were the first ones to line up for the catamaran. Lake Pehoe is a lake of glacial melt water. It wraps around the southwest end of the W trek and its aqua blue color is unreal.
We arrived to the dock at Refugio & Camp Paine Grande a little after noon. The campground was almost empty! We picked a spot near the hill to pitch our tent so that it’s somewhat sheltered from the wind. We were very excited and decided to have a few quick bites of our lunch and immediately set out on our day hike to Camp Grey.
From Camp Paine Grande, it’s 11 miles round trip to Camp Grey, so we had to hustle to return to our camp in daylight. The path was well marked. We had Cerro Paine Grande at our right hand side and Lago Grey on our left. Cerro Paine Grande like many mountains in this region was rocky and jagged while Lago Grey was glacial covered on the north end and large blue icebergs randomly dotted its surface. The lake was grey as its name suggested. The surface of this lake was tumultuous due to the extreme wind speed here.
There were two sections in this hike that were particularly windy. The first was at the duck ponds. We saw no ducks there. I suspect no ducks can survive the wind in these ponds. I snapped a picture of Tricia leaning into the wind and allowing the wind to carry her weight for a few seconds.
The second spot was about 1.5 miles from Camp Grey. Wind picked up sand and small granular rocks and relentlessly blew them into our faces. I was glad to have sunglasses to protect my eyes and hid my face in a raised elbow for shelter.
We got to Camp Grey a little after 3:30pm and turned around without lingering. We got back to Camp Paine Grande before 7. We were cold and hungry.
Camp Paine Grande probably had the best facility of all the campsites in Torres Del Paine. We had a sheltered area to cook and to eat. It had running water and a few half used fuel canisters left by previous hikers. Tricia and I were both able fit in a hot shower in the dorms the next morning, which was wonderful.
In the morning of our second day, I woke up early and watched the sunrise over Lago Pehoe. A curious little visitor came down from the hillside and took a stroll around our camp that morning. Keep on following our adventures as we make our way to Camp Italiano and Camp Britanico. Any questions? Feel free to leave me a comment below.