After breakfast and after we made our packed lunch for the day we headed out on the mini bus to start the first leg of the W-Trek.
The W Trek is a famous hike made up of three legs which enter the small but spectacular mountain group called the Cordillera del Paine. This outcrop of mountains next to the Andes is made up of snow capped mountains and gigantic granite towers shaped by the forces of glacial ice.
The W Trek is the most popular of the hikes in the area but you can also do the Full Circuit which takes you all the way around the mountains but takes a little longer, usually 5 days instead of 3.
The first leg we were doing was into the Valle de Frances (Frenchman’s Valley). We were first driven to one of the lakes where we took a boat to the other side. The weather wasn’t great and there were big waves and spray being created by the wind. The boat was extremely choppy and went up and down covering the whole vessel in water at several points. We were given teas and coffees and we had trouble keeping the fluid in the cup.
I was glad when we got off, any longer and I don’t think my stomach would like me anymore.
We dropped our evening clothes off at the hostel we were staying in that night and set off.
The walk was fairly easy going at first with nice scenery of the lakes and mountains. Further along, it got steeper. We walked through woodland and over mountain rivers.
The sorroundings were amazing but the weather got worse and worse.
The winds were high and by the time we arrived at the Italian Camp which was our target for the day, we were battling high winds, rain and even hail. At one point we saw and heard a huge avalanche on the otherside of the mountain.
On a good day we would have cotinued to the end of the trail known as the British Camp where you enter an amazing lookout point above an amphitheatre. However, it was far too wet and Eduardo decided we should head back. Besides, it was far too cloudy for us to see any of the amazing views.
The walk down was hard since we were getting wetter and wetter. When we eventually got back to the hostel we were absolutely soaking wet and cold!! Even our companions from up North were misreably soggy. After our 7 hour hike, all we wanted to do was get dry and get warm!
The hostel was nice but in terms of getting our clothes dry, not very practical. Luckily, Jackie and Bill managed to find a stairwell, which had a fireplace (that was already taken by some other wet hikers) and a hot chimney pipe. We hung all our wet gear on the bannisters and hugged some of our clothes around the hot pipe in an attempt to get stuff dry by the next day’s hike.
The hostel we packed with people and campers. We ate a nice meal in the canteen and sat in the bar chatting away amongst our group and with another Catalan couple we met.
We then retreated into our 3 bunk bed dormitory where we all slept til morning. Poor Eduardo the guide had to camp outside in the wet. The next day he admitted that it was the wettest he had ever been in his 4 years working in the park.