This was going to be somewhat of a rest day as we would just make a day trip from Campamento Las Guardas higher up along the glacier. We walked in and out of the woods on the steep slopes above the glacier. Great views were as omnipresent as the wind. We crossed a few gullies that required caution to negotiate and turned around when we reached yet another nice viewpoint (500m) above the glacier. From there, the trail continues to Campo del Paso, a campground, and higher up to Paso John Garner, John Garner Pass. We were back at the camp early and spent much of the evening shooting photographs on rocky slopes above the glacier. The cold wind coming off the glacier, drizzle and the approaching evening made for a very Patagonian atmosphere.
|Glaciar Grey||Radka and Zdenek above the glaciar||Glaciar Grey||Exposed trees||Zdenek||Beetles in action|
|Radka||Ravine||Evening above the glaciar||Glacial blues||Evening above the glaciar||Unreal calm|
|Evening above the glaciar||Trees in the wind|
We stopped for some snacks at a store down at the lake, and then continued back to Lago Pehoe. The skies were grey most of the time, and we caught a few showers along the way. We reached Lago Pehoe early in the afternoon, and the sign 'No boat today' said it all. We either had to spend a night and hope the boat, which could take us to the other end of the lake, would run the next day, or walk out to the the nearest road. As the showers turned into steady rain, we decided to walk. So we marched on for over three hours, first along the lake and later through a pampa south of it, to Campamento Las Carretas (36m), a small campground above Rio Grey. The campground featured another gross toilet, but the evening views made up for that.
|Waterfall||Waterfall||Rainbow||Boat||Lago Pehoe||Radana and Zdenek in Pampa Hermandad|
|Paine Grande||Evening Paine range||Pink world||Rio Grey||Paine at dusk||Paine at dusk|
In the morning, we set out for Posada Rio Serrano, where the park's administration is located. The sky cleared up and it was a pleasant two hour walk in a flat pampa. One had to appreciate the flatness since much of the parks trails we walked would go up and down all the time. We unexpectedly met Karel, Martina and Premek there. After we parted ways at Campamento Britannico, they went to Lago Pingo. They were going to leave the park today, while we would stay one more day. Together we hitched a ride on a bus bound for Puerto Natales to Refugio Pudeto at the north end of Lago Pehoe. It was a short walk from there to 'Salto Grande', a waterfall on a short river that flows from Lago Nordenskjold to Lago Pehoe.
The waterfall was quite impressive because of the sheer amount of water in the river. We followed the river to Lago Nordenskjold and to a lookout above the lake. Cuernos and Paine Grande dominated the mountainous skyline behind the lake. From Refugio Pudeto, Zdenek, Radana, Radka and I headed to a campground on the eastern shore of Lago Pehoe. It looked like an hour by walking on the road, but we got lucky and got a ride on a pickup truck. This was another paid campground and being accessible by car, it was quite busy. We camped next to a friendly Chilean family from Punta Arenas, who treated us to some cookies, but striking a conversation proved to be difficult as my Spanish was not quite up to it.
I still had a bit of unfinished bussiness in the park. I wanted to get some shots of the entire range in good light, so I was not quite happy when clouds rolled in in the evening. The clouds brought rain with them. It was a steady downpour that Radka and I resisted in our waterproofs for a while before turning in.
|Riders||Soaring||Owl||Owl||Lago Pehoe||Salto Grande|
|Salto Grande rainbow||Our group||Paine||Sendero Mirador Nordenskjold||Lago Nordenskjold||Cloud shadows|
|Lago Nordenskjold and Cuernos||Lago Pehoe from Salto Grande|
I woke up at the sound of Radana's alarm watch. I stuck my head out of the tent and it would appear my prayers had been answered. The sky was clear. I woke Radka and Zdenek up and rushed to the lake. It was a beautiful sunrise and we humbly enjoyed the view from a small hill above the lake. Zdenek left after a while. Later, Radka ran out film and left. I stayed a little longer until the clouds covered most of the sky since I could not quite part with the view. Back at the tent, I had a feeling of fulfillment. It was a great trek in a terrific scenery capped off by this beautiful morning. It was as good as I expected, and better than that.
Later that morning, we went to Salto Chico. I did not really care to see it too much, but I still accompanied Radka. It turned out to be a bit of a letdown, as the waterfall is more like a series of rapids. I guess it is called small for a reason. On top of that, there was a small concrete installation to draw electricity from the stream there for Hotel Explora, an expensive looking hotel, that one of our guide books called an eyesore. It may be not be that architecturally, but it sure seemed out of place in this land.
Early in the afternoon, we were picked up by a bus for which we bought tickets in Puerto Natales. I slept much of the way back, and I kind of slept with my eyes open on the bus between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales later. The visual overload of the morning was still too fresh in my mind.
Upon returning to Punta Arenas, all seven of us had dinner to celebrate the trip. The restaurant El Mercado was a good choice and we enjoyed their seafood and Chilean wine and beer. The local Austral lager was a popular choice.
|Dawn Paine||Lago Pehoe||Sunrise||Sunrise Paine||Cuernos||Cuerno Principal|
|Torres||Lago Pehoe||Torres||Polarized Paine range||Straight Paine range||Last look|
Trails are easy to follow and some sections are quite busy. You are not likely to be alone for long anywhere on established trails.
As I carried a GPS, I marked the location of numerous campsites and other points along our route. Here is my page with a list of the waypoints, their descriptions, a Garmin PCX file, and a little map.
Here is a list of campgrounds we visited and my impressions of them:
Weather is changable and wind is the norm. It looked like it snows in the higher elevation throughout the summer.
Supplies: It is possible to buy basic groceries at some of the campgrounds ('Camping Pehoe', 'Camping Grey'). Prices are quite a bit higher than outside of the park, but not outrageous. Bread rolls seemed to be in short supply in all of the stores and a good timing was needed to buy them. You can also complement you diet with abundant calafate berries found in many parts of the park.
Photographic opportunities: This is a nature photographer paradise. There is few places in the world that can match the scenery, so enjoy it. Bring an alarm watch so you do not have to borrow it from others.