torres del paine in three parts: las torres

The “W” trek is stunning.  It is a slap in the face of beauty.  It is astonishing in its size and color.  And even in downpouring  rain, the land seems to call to you.

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The last day of our adventure began with rain and ended with even more rain.  The start of the hike from ecocamp is exposed and high up in the valley, the deep ravine dropping sharply to the side, rocks threatening to slide down from above.  As we hiked the 11 km to the base of the famous granite towers that are iconic to the park, we were sheltered by a fair bit of cover in ancient beech forests.

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The last kilometer is the toughest, a steep ascent to the infamous green lagoon and the view of the three sheer rock faces slicing the sky wide open.  We saw none of that after we scrambled up large boulders into what looked more like Mordor than real life.

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A wall of clouds, completely opaque and unmoving sat low across the towers, revealing a snow covered base and the green, still water, but hiding the majesty from view.  And while it is hard not to be disappointed, this moment, sitting on a rock staring into the flat grey-white of the clouds unleashing a blizzard on the rocks, was about more than a view.  This was about gratitude and personal achievement.

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The fact that after so long I had done it, I had hiked to Las Torres with no physical upset, really not much of a struggle.  For those who are aware, I’ve long struggled with my low blood pressure and have had trouble with intense physical exercise in the past.  So to have set this goal and achieved it so young, I was filled with such an immense thankfulness to those that helped me get here.  You know who you are and what you have done for me; thank you.

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The long trail back to ecocamp was flooded in parts, bridges washed away in the swollen streams, roads wiped out completely.  We forge our way home soaked down to the bone in the cool Patagonian air.  And as I chatted away with my guide, exhilarated with the accomplishment and the moment, I opened my arms to the sky and let the rain hit my skin with nothing but joy in my heart.  It really is so great to be alive.

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