W Circuit: Back to Paine Grande Refuge

  • Total Distance: 62 miles (100 kms)
  • Starting Point: Las Torres Refugio (Torre Norte)
  • End Point: Grey Refuge
  • Highest Point: Mirador Britanico, 2510 ft
  • Accomodations: Campsites, Refugios (hostels)

<- Day 4

We had a great night’s sleep, with a relief of success of finishing our five-day journey across the Torres del Paine National Park. We were ready to ditch our backpacks and hiking boots for a few days. The next three days would be relaxing and fun.

Our boat to Grey Lake was scheduled at 10.30 in the morning, which would take us very close to the blue giant. We got ready a little early so that we could take a final walk to the Grey Glacier viewpoint prior to heading out to the boat launch area. 

When we got to the Grey beach to take the boat, we were informed that the boat was canceled due to high winds. This was a moment of panic since after the glacier, the boat was also supposed to take us to Porteria Grey, where we would have our driver waiting for us who would take us back to Natales. We had to leave the national park today since we didn’t have accommodation in the park anymore. 

Our only option left was to walk back to the Paine Grande Refuge and take a catamaran across the Pehoe Lake and somehow re-arrange our driver to pick us up at Pudeto. The only catch was that the last catamaran was scheduled to leave at 5 pm, which we must catch. It was close to 11 am by the time we figured these things out. It was 4-5 hours hike back to Paine Grande. The problem was also that all the trekkers who were trapped at the Grey Refuge would walk back to Paine Grande to get out and we weren’t sure if catamaran would have enough spots to accommodate everyone. We now had no choice but to race the time. 

Sandip, Dharmesh and I decided to split off from the group so that we could walk fast to reach the Paine Grande to secure our spots in the catamaran. We literally started running the trail now. The wind, as forecasted kept increasing as the day went by, it got so high to the point that walking straight started becoming an issue. High winds made it much much harder to walk. This sure was the notorious Patagonian wind that the region was known for! 

We finally made it back to yesterday’s spot in three hours. We inquired about catamaran and sent a few emails to Leslie to update her with our current situation and to rearrange the pickup point. Finally, with a peace of mind, we grabbed some beer and waited for the rest of the group to arrive.

We were able to stand in line to catch 5 pm’s boat so that we could get out, what a relief that was! They also added another catamaran at 6 to get remaining folks. 

We got out on the balcony of our boat to see the final views of the unique Paine towers and the landscape of the national park. 

It was about 45 minutes boat ride, our driver was waiting for us at Pudeto. It was another hour and a half drive back to Puerto Natales. We made plenty of stops to catch more last glimpses of the park. 

Back in Natales after a long day, we walked to the pier again prior to having dinner. This, officially was the end of our W-Trek. 

Wait, one more fun thing left before we would head back to San Fransisco- that’s right, visit Magellanic Penguins and say hello! 

Day 6,7 ->

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