Other in the woods:
A blood curdling scream ripped through the woods. Mike and kerry woke up instantly. It was 8:30 at night but they had been fast asleep. They were a little concerned, as the wind whipped around their tent at a frightening speed, the trees bowing and swaying with each gust. They were scared if one of them got up, the tent may blow away! They gave each other a look as they realized who may have made the sound… “All the gear, no idea” was the correct phrase to sum up the quiet, sweet man, that they had seen setting up his tent the previous evening. “I mean, the man had three pairs of boots for christs sake!” Kerry exclaimed after they had retired for the evening. When asked why, Other had replied, “Well for different rains of course, you need one pair each for mild, medium, and moderate rains, the man in the shop told me,” with a look on his face that said he was slightly suprised they had asked the question. “Well, I guess I’ll get up and check he’s ok,” said Mike, “it’s the right thing to do, I guess.” Mike got up and ripped open the tent, and forced himself to step out. Stanleys tent, believe it or not, was completely in the air, blowing like a sail in the wind, with the only thing holding it from blowing right into the sky being a guy rope tying it to one of the nearby trees. Mike thought to himself as to where exactly the poor guy was, as he certainly wasn’t in his tent any more! Until he saw a dim light coming from the porch of one of the nearby maintainence sheds. Mike strolled to take a closer look, and found, to his mixture of amusement and pity, a quivering and sobbing sleeping bag covering Stanley Other (he had got the thing zipped right up over his head). “Are you OK?!” Exclaimed Mike. “Yes fine thank you,” came the reply “Fine. A little cold amd scared, but fine, thank you, I just though it was safer here, out of the wind.” Said stanley with quivering lips. “Oh for christs sake” sighed Mike. “Come and stay I our tent then… you damned idiot. I’m sure you’ll feel safer if we’re all together.”
Stanley sighed as he lay next to the North American couple in their wind blasted tent. He had prepared so well for the trip, and spent a lot of time doing research. The only thing he had forgotten to bring was experience.
Trekking in the Torres Del Paine: What to Take:
The most important thing is of course experience. If you can take somebody who has done it a few times before they may be alarmingly relaxed, but they will most certainly be a valuable asset, and you can put down this and ask them instead.
Good boots – As there is such a wide variety of surfaces in the park, a good sturdy pair of waterproof all terrain boots is absolutely essential. Make sure you do some walking in them first, so they get used to your feet and you don´t get blisters on the long climbs.
Layers – As there is a wide variety of different temperatures in the park, and you will probably work up some what of a sweat from hiking, it will be most comfortable for you to have a few layers that you can peel off or put on, whilst walking, as your body temperature varies.
Sleeping bag and tent – depending on the time of year you go, you may or may not need a tent and sleeping bag for freezing weather conditions. However, if this is going to be your main source of accommodation, you will benefit from buying the best you can afford of both. Things to consider when looking is weight, ease of which it can be put up, wind resistance and waterproofing. Alternatively, you can always rent rather than buy, this is easy to do as there are a great deal of rental shops in and around Puerto Natales. The Erratic Rock comes reccommended, as it has a helpful American owner, and they are flexible if you decide to stay in the park for longer or shorter than planned.
Waterproofs – Full body waterproofs and a waterproof pack cover are essential with the conditions in the the park if you want to stay in any sort of comfort.
Cash – Take a decent wad of cash for emergenices, in case you run out of food and need a hot meal, or decide you want to stay in one of the refugios for the night. Take note with some of the refugios costing in excess of 30,000 pesos for the night (approx $50), these are not cheap, and neither are the meals or snacks if you don´t take them with you.
Cooking equipment – A stove, pot and spoon to make meals with, and a water bottle to collect and store water. It is absolutely essential that you have cooking equipment with you to make hot meals – more on this later.
A primer on the virtues of tents and refugios:
There are a great number of campsites across the park, some of which charge a fee, and some of which do not. The fee campsites are expectedly very expensive – most charge a fee of approximately $10-$14 per person per night just to set up your tent. However this
is still less than a third of what you will be paying to stay in a refugio, and the campsites are open all year round – with a number more than there are refugios! If you go to the park at high season, it is likely that all the refugios will be open, but it is still a good measure to take a tent with you. Finding yourself exhausted or injured and next to a camp site with the nearest refugios a 2 hour trek away is not as unlikely as you think – having a tent with you will safeguard against this.
A refugio is a basic lodging with a shared dorm room and a fire. Many of the refugios rent sleeping bags and sell food and snacks at a bumped up price. These are dotted around the W circuit. They range from clean dorm rooms with made beds to basic rooms with matresses. However with no centrally updated website about which are open and closed, and some of the locals giving out unreliable information as to which are open and closed, and which you need to book first, it is best to take camping gear with you to avoid getting stuck.
After hiking up a mountain the most basic hot meal will take like manor flown down from heaven by the angel Gabriel and handed to you on a silver cushion. Many people opt to take only cold snacks for meals – do not fall into this trap! A small stove with gas and a small tin pot weigh very little and you will relish in the ability to be able to make a hot meal after a days trekking. The below should give you a decent check list of food to cover you for your time there.
Snacks for bonking out – non perishible energy boosts in small portions – one packet per person per day should be enough. Ideas for this include – hard boiled sweets, jelly babies, sugar coated nuts, chocolate, M&Ms, snickers bars, nougat and kendel mint cake. These are essential for a small energy boost when taking a break whilst hiking.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner – Any meals you make after a days hike will taste great, but make sure you don´t buy stuff which takes too long to cook. You will need to make your meals approximately 1.5 times bigger than normal. Non perishables such as pasta, super noodles, tinned beans and tuna, tinned fruit and cereal work well, however as it is cold in the park for much of the year, perishables such as ham and cheese should keep for the first day or two.
Squash for making water more interesting and energy – In Chilean super markets you can get small packets of squash powder, called ´Zumos´. These are a good way of making water taste more interesting and getting some much needed sugar in your diet.
Other things to take:
A Good Map – A good map with clear markings of the location of free and pay campsites and refugios will be useful. A basic free map is available from the tourist office in Puerto Natales if you can´t find anything else.
Company – Not essential however going with company will help you keep going, and share the carrying of heavy items such as a stove and tent.
First Aid Kit – A basic first aid kit containing bandages and plasters, immodium, antiseptic and painkillers.
What do recommend taking for hiking in Torres Del Paine?
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