1.28.2008

Chicago Ain´t Got Nothin´ on Laguna Nordenskjold!

I am going to write another weight loss book – the premise is this - carry around a 40 pound backpack for 10 days and only eat oatmeal, tuna and packaged soup. Oh, and don´t shower. I think that helps too.

We just got finished with a 9 day hike in Parque National Torres del Paine. We competed the ¨circuit¨, which goes around several different peaks, including Paine Grande (aka Major Paine), Paine Sud, Paine Nord and Paine Central.

Some Stats:
Number of cans of tuna eaten: 13
Number of bugs eaten: 8
Number of bugs snorted: 6
Number of miles hiked: 100
Number of days without a shower: 9
Longest hike in one day: 20 miles
Longest hill: 3 hours STRAIGHT UP

A quick rundown of our trip is as follows.

Day 1: The Day We Had Cheese
This was our first day, so we were able to carry cheese for a little while and eat it on the trail along the way. Oh, cheese, how I miss you so! We hiked about 6 hours and set up camp about halfway up the mountain. The camp is nice; the bathrooms are semi clean, no TP, but that is what was expected.

Day 2: The Day That Was Easy
We purposefully made an easy day for today, as CK´s knee was bothering him and we also had decided to take the whole trail slow so as to enjoy every minute of it. We hiked up to a Mirador (lookout) which afforded us a beautiful view of the three aformetioned peaks (all but Grande). Then we took another easy hike before playing Hearts and making my favorite dinner, packaged soup.

Day 3: The Day S Got La Guardia/ The Day We Almost Got Blown Away
S woke up very sick and so after leaving him at the guard station, we kept on. Today we had scheduled 10 hours of hiking. The way they set up the camps is kind of weird. You have one camp 3 hours away and one 10 hours away. So you can either hike 3 hrs or 10. We chose 10. The hike was not too bad until we got to Lake Nordenskjold. Then the wind picked up. It was so strong it was blowing us over. Literally. I fell and scraped up my knee and CK fell over backwards into the bushes. It was brutal. It was also our last 2 hours and so we were tired already. We finally made it into camp around 730 pm and fell almost immediately to sleep. Since we are still so far south, it still stays light at least until 10, so it is a little hard to get to sleep, but with an eyeshade and some earplugs and a hard days hike, anything is possible.

Day 4: The Day I Stuck My Feet in a Glacier
We ONLY hiked 7 hours today. When we got to camp, I felt so dirty, so I went to the river and had a VERY cold bird bath. It is refreshing, as Dad would say. Invigorating as well.

Day 5: The Day We Walked Uphill Both Ways
Another 10 hour day and the last hour and a half was totally uphill. No break. Every time we thought we had gotten to the top of the hill, we were wrong, it was only more uphill again. There were a lot of bugs in camp, so we took defensive action and hid out in the tent. Unfortunately, we have to eat, so we had to brave the swarm for a little while.

Day 6: The Spa Day
Today we only hiked 3 hours. It was mostly uphill. We decided to save the rest for the next day, as it was a 6 hour hike from 250 M to 1250 M, so we knew it was going to be a difficult one. We took a spa day today, washed our socks and selves as much as we could, cooked a hot lunch (oh, bliss, top ramen) and relaxed in preparation for the hard day ahead.

Day 7: The Day Our Knees Hated Us
6 hours, 12 K, steep, steep uphill for 2.5 hrs, then steep, steep downhill for 3 hours. In some places there was no trail, only rocks. We had to blaze our own path. It was really hard on the knees! However, we got to the tallest point of the hike, Paso John Gardner, which is 1250 M, and afforded really beautiful views of Glacier Grey, which we had been hiking along side of for the past few days.

Day 8: The Day We Joined a Bug Colony
The bugs are getting really bad. I have bites everywhere. Our hike today was fairly flat, but very, very long. We hiked 30 km today and by the time we got to camp (11 hrs later) we were so tired and annoyed with bugs and ready to just relax. We ate the rest of our food – we had a Thanksgiving feast – 3 different kinds of soup! Then instead of battling mosquitos, we went to bed.

Day 9: The Day My Dogs Barked
Oh my feet. Thank goodness, they have not hurt before, but today they hurt! Luckily we only had a 4.5 hour hike to the end of the trail and let me tell you, when I saw the end, I was soooo happy. The hike has been fun, but I really can´t wait to take off my boots and stinky socks and get into a shower. My pants can stand up on their own. Actually my hair probably can too!

We are now in Puerto Natales, waiting for our flight to Puerto Montt, which is tomorrow (hopefully!) From there we will visit the island of Chiloe and then the Lake District of Chile.

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