Saturday, February 18, 2017

Day 1 On The W: To Refugio Chilno

One can hike the W west to east or east to west. Most common, it seems, is the former. Last year, Chile began a reservation system whereby one cannot undertake multi-day treks without reservations at either hotel, refuges, or campgrounds. We might have preferred the west to east option (but, in retrospect, not), but we simply couldn't get reservations and had to go with the east to west option. As it happened, we would not have seen the Torres had we done the west to east, since the weather closed down the last couple days we were in the park. Vicki wanted to maximize our chances of seeing the Torres, so she scheduled us for three nights in the area, at the beginning of the trek, one at Refugio Chileno and the second and third at Camping Torres, down in the valley. It worked out quite well.
On the bus ride from Puerto Natales, scanning the horizon for

The Torres in sight...but not very encouraging weather

A herd of guanaco on the way

The line for buying the admission ticket into the park, declaring
your intentions, watching the dos and don'ts video

And so we hoist our packs and begin the march up to Refugio

The view still not encouraging (you can see the summits of
the Torres from the valley at the east end)

Signage in the park, though battered by the elements, was
generally fine

A bit of the trail

Rio Torres

Weather improving a bit as we marched

And so we arrived at the Refugio Chileno (someone else's photo);
enjoyable place; best food we saw on the trip

Our "suite" was pretty much like this; we arrived early enough
to claim 1st and 2nd level bunks; our room had a 4th level
bunk, perhaps 10 feet off the ground, originally assigned to a
late-arriving codger like me; a gallant young Chilean lass gave
him her lower level bunk

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