I tossed and turned for hours after waking up at 12:30 am. For some reason, Tricia was also not able to sleep that night. By 3:30 am, she told me that she had decided that we should go up to the mirador to watch sunrise. And at 4 am, we were off on our adventure.
The night sky was full of stars and I don’t recall seeing the moon. We both wore our headlamps which seemed to send a beam of light straight into heaven when we look up. It was super cool. Our trail quickly led us into a thick patch of woods, and it was pitch black around us except for the beam of white LED light projecting from our foreheads. I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t scared. In fact, Tricia pushed me to lead the way because I think she got a little spooked by the forest too. To make this adventure even more creepy was the trail marking. Bright strokes of red paint brushed onto tree trunks marked the direction for us to follow. Shining our headlamps on these red paint marks made them appear bloody, like a trail of bloody handprints guiding us to the ultimate site of human sacrifice. It was eerily quiet on this trail– no birds, no streams and no winds. I could only hear my footsteps crushing decaying leaves and branches and Tricia’s steps behind me. Our headlamps were constantly surveying the surrounding, searching for the next bloody handprint on tree trunks. We were moving through the forest quickly.
Fortunately, the trail in the forest gave way to bare rocks above the treeline. We arrived to the Torres Campsite a little after 5 am. Almost everyone at this campsite was going to see the sunrise that morning. We could hear people talking and dozens of headlamps moving about like a cluster of huge fireflies. I was finally able to breath a sigh of relief knowing that we were safe from the predator lurking behind the bloody handprints. Before 6 am, Tricia and I found ourselves standing in front of a glacial lake and the four fingers of Las Torres. It was beautiful.
We picked a good vantage point, slightly sheltered from howling winds. Tricia pulled out her sleeping bag for warmth and I set up my camera. And we waited for the sun to come up. The sky got brighter and brighter as we waited. Just as Tricia seemed ready to start purring in her warm sleeping bag, the clouds around the Torres started to show a hint of color. A faintly red hue started to appear on the rock face of the Torres. Behind us, we could see an intense light appearing just above the ridges. The sun was about to appear.
I told Tricia to get out of the sleeping bag to get ready for a kissing shot. She reluctantly extracted herself from her warm cocoon. Within a minute, the light became so intense that all the fingers appeared orange and red. Then as quickly as it appeared, the color faded on the rock faces and the sun was above the ridges behind us.
We got back Chileno a little after 8 am, had our pre-paid breakfast and went back to our tent for a nap. By the time we woke up again, it was already noon. The morning’s adventure seemed so surreal in my memory. The photos on my camera were my only evidence to confirm that we didn’t spend the entire morning in our sleeping bags.
I really wanted to a resting day, but all of our campsites were pre-booked for specific days. We had to keep going. Seron was our next stop which was 12 km away. Despite my nap after the mirador, I could feel that my body was exhausted. This was the longest trekking trip I had done in my life.
Chileno to Seron was mostly descending and flat, but the trail was not well marked, especially around Hotel Las Torres. As soon as we left the W trail onto the O, the weather changed. Clouds gathered low in the sky and the temperature dropped. The winds continued to howl like everywhere else in Patagonia. The 12 km was a drag. At one point, we did not follow the trail carefully and found ourselves in front of a stream without a bridge. We inspected up and down along the water looking for our lost trail without success. Eventually, we took off our boots and walked across.
We arrived to Seron at 6pm. It started to rain right before we got to the campsite. Everything was wet, much like my spirit. Tricia, who was somehow still riding a high despite being sleep deprived, led the way setting up the tent and preparing dinner. There were already about a dozen people at the campsite under the shelter. The clientele at Seron seemed more hardcore and outdoorsy than our previous campsites. They also seemed to be familiarly Pacific Northwest-ishly aloof. I was too exhausted to make any effort to interact with people who did not seem to be interested in talking to me, but Tricia quickly made friends with two young Europeans with an accent I couldn’t quite pinpoint. They turned out to be two fellow outdoor enthusiasts, Jorge and Arthur, from Maastricht, Tricia’s self-claimed namesake Dutch city. It felt warming to have friends in this damp wilderness.
Watching the sunrise at mirador of Las Torres was definitely the climax of this trip in my mind. If you ask Tricia, the entire hike was a highlight in her life. Our trekking adventure kept on going from Seron, but we were about to be hit with some serious bad news. Stay tuned for my next chapter: Day 5: Decisions at Dickson.