Remember how last week I mentioned that this week was my spring break? Yeah, well now my break has come to an endÂ and I can finally tell you about it!
Like I mentioned in my last blog, this year I decided I would spend my break unplugged, away from civilization, and into the wild! Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic with the last part, but I did spend four days trekking the W trail in Torres del Paine National Park. This was a new experience for me. I had never gone camping before this week, I had never been backpacking, nor had I gone without a shower for this long–I really didn’t think I’d make it, but here I am!
The main reasons I wanted to do this was for the ~views~, the time with friends, and also to challenge myself to be away from social media for a bit. I guess I just wanted to see how I would act in a setting that I’m unfamiliar with. After all, isn’t that what studying abroad is for?
At first, the entire experience didn’t feel real to me. A couple of my friends and I had planned this for about a month prior to our departure, yet even on the plane from Santiago to Punta Arenas, I couldn’t seem to comprehend exactly what I was getting myself into. It really wasn’t even until we began our first hike of the trail that I could believe what we were doing.
There were three main hikes that we did on our backpacking trip. On the third day, we traveled from one campsite to another and that was it. There was still lovely views; however, it wasn’tÂ much of a hike, so I’ll only be talking about the remaining three days of the backpacking trip.
The first hike we did was the one to Glacier Grey. Thankfully, this guy wasn’t a difficult hike because it was only our first day in and we didn’t want to be extremely sore the second day of our trek. Other than being a pretty smooth hike, the view was amazing. Not only the view of the glacier but the view up to the glacier as well. There was an abundance of plants surrounding us as we hiked towards the glacier.
One of my favorite parts was when we were surrounded by white trees that were very interesting–they looked like they were taken from a horror story or something fantastic. They weren’t very tall, but taller than everyone who was hiking and they had spidery branches sticking out of the top third of the tree. I wish I would’ve gotten a picture of them, but I just didn’t think to do it in the moment. That might’ve not been as exciting to you as Glacier Grey anyway though, so I think it’s okay because I did get a picture of that guy! Here he is behind me:
It looks a little far off in the distance and that’s because it was. The mirador, or viewpoint, was kind of distant from the glacier, but it still gave us a good view.
On the second day of our trek, the view of the day was Nordenskjold Lake and an abundance of trees. Something I began to notice on this day was the ubiquity of streams in Torres del Paine. I loved this about the park because they were water-refill stations, as you can drink the water straight from the streams without filtering the water first! Isn’t that amazing? Anyway, this day’s hike was definitely more challenging, but so worth it. From the top of the mountain, I could see the milky-turquois lake sitting right next to the vibrant trees. You can also see ice melting and becoming part of the stream that runs down the side of the mountain. It was a really incredible view.
On the fourth day of the trek, we hiked the most famous hikes of them all: Las Torres del Paine! This was 100% the most challenging day of the entire trek which was terrible because this was the only day I really felt sore, but also it was amazing at the same time because of the view.
This day, we woke up at 2:45 am to get ready to go on this hike. We left the campsite at 3 am because we wanted to watch the sunrise at the Torres. It was pitch black outside and all we could see was what our flashlights allowed during the four-hour hike up to the Torres. Was it worth it? Yes. Also, at first I wasn’t stoked about having to wake up so early to see the Torres because 1. it was cold and 2. it was pitch black outside, but I think this was much better than going in broad daylight. The reason being that I couldn’t really see where I was going, so I couldn’t subconsciously form mental barriers on my way up and also, I realized that sweating in the cold is a lot more comfortable than sweating in the heat.
…and that was my spring break! I really had one of the best times of my life. It was a challenging experience having to be disconnected from all the things I am accustomed to, but I think it was a great time in that I got to rest and reflect on a lot of things while being in a lovely environment. I acknowledge that I am very privileged to have been on this trip and I am very grateful for having been able to experience it.