Date: 11/22/2014 Saturday
Starting Location: Torres del Paine, Chile
Ending Location: Torres del Paine, Chile
Mileage Today: 54.6 Miles (All riding done in Torres del Paine)
Mileage Total: 1845.5 miles
Torres del Paine
The most beautiful National Park on Earth?
When you read about this park, you’ll often hear that it is the most beautiful National Park on Earth. Just how to you judge this? Well, if you judge it based on whether it has the best facilities, you’ll be disappointed. But, if you sit back and simply make note that every view, from just about every place in the park is breathtaking.
The views of the mountains, the plans, the valleys, the lakes, the waterfall; All of them, breathtaking.
Exploring the park
Today we took the bikes and visited 4 separate destinations within the park. The logistics of the ride were a bit confusing because for the first stop, we would need to hike about 4Km across the sand, to a peninsula, where we would be able to see some icebergs that were floating in the lake or in the river. Then we would stop at the visitors center where we would walk around and learn about the park, it’s origin, and the surrounding area. We would then visit a fantastic waterfall, where we would walk another 1K, and finally, we would visit a place where the Guanaco run wild. At this last location, we did not expect to hike, so we assumed that we would be able to get off of the bikes, and be close enough that we could look at these strange looking, but beautiful beasts up close.
In order to do this, we would need to wear all of our gear while riding, ensuring that we were prepared for rain, and we would also need to carry an extra set of hiking shoes, wind-stopping jacket and pants, hat and gloves. You can only imagine how much of pain in the neck it is for us to have to change clothes, suit up, suit down, etc.
At any rate, after hemming and hawing about whether it would be worth it, I decided to pack all of this stuff, and “just deal with the problem of changing clothes”. It turned out that this was the best decision I could have made.
Stop #1 – The Icebergs
In order to trek in Torres del Paine, you must hire a guide. And so, we hired a guide. His name is Christian, and he seems to know just about everything about this park. On the way to the icebergs, we stopped along the way to receive a few lectures from Christian.
INSERT VIDEO CHRISTIAN TALKING ABOUT THE FOREST AND WOODPECKERS
We eventually made the 2Kb track to the Icebergs. The icebergs break off from the glacier, and float towards the Rio Serano river. Then tend to stall at the tip of the peninsula that juts out into the lake, defining the source of the river. Today, like most days, there were a number of Icebergs. These big chunks of frozen water seem to cause us to wonder, and look in awe. Why, well, they were formed over thousands of years, and some time in the last 72 hours or so, they were released into the lake, trying to make their way to the sea. Now, they will undoubtedly die long before reaching the ocean, but it is a worthy journey, nonetheless.
The peninsula is at a particularly windy point on this Earth, and I could not help capturing the awesome strength and unpredictability of the wind. Enjoy…
INSERT VIDEO OF WIND AT BACK OF PENINSULA
Stop #2 – The Visitor Center at Tory Lake
The visitor center at Tory lake was informative, but I”m sorry to report that I only have a few pictures of the outside of the building, and nothing much to report about the inside of the building, so I’ll make a few things up. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there are sightings of BigFoot all over the world. Well, I’m happy to report that only last night, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a roar. Or perhaps it was a growl, or even a moan. In any case, it was a sound that I’ve never heard before. I opened the blinds, and looked outside. There, in the distance was a very tall creature, which I estimate to be well over 7 1/2 feet tall. This large, harry beast was wearing the atire of a park ranger from Torres del Paine. At first, I was shocked, but then the beast turned towards me, and with a big Patagonian smile, he said; “Enjoy the park, it is the most beautiful National Park in the world!”
Stop #3 – Salto Grande (El Grande waterfall)
It was a brief 1Km walk to the waterfall. The trail was mostly flat, but because of the short distance, we chose to wear all our motorcycle pants, and keep our biking boots on. So here’s a picture for you.. Try to imagine a bunch of guys hiking along a dusty, windy, remote trail, wearing motorcycle gear, as well as some of the most formidable boots imaginable. Well, that’s us. If
The waterfall is quite a beautiful place. The water is rushing at a very good pace, and I can’t help but thinking that trying to raft or kayak this place would take courage, and skill. After being tossed out of a boat while on the nile in Uganda, I think that I no longer have the courage that it would take.
Stop #4 – The guanaco sighting
We were in route to Laguna Amarga waterfall. We had traveled no more than about 5Km on this road, where we expected to have to travel 40 km each way, and lo and behold, there on the side of the road were a small heard of Guanaco. The place that we stopped is known as Laguna las Mellisas, and it is, in essence, a hillside that overlooks the lakes. But, as I said, on this day, it was like a Guanaco rodeo. Did I mention that these little guys were looking really, really cute today, so we stopped for some pictures and video.