Travel Story: 'Almost' visiting Torres del Paine | Chile | Adventure
Hooray you sexy readers! How are you? Are you ready for one of those good ol' adventure stories? Hop on board.
Mesmerized by a photo I recently saw and glad that it brough some great memories of past adventures experienced by myself, I've decided to shake out the dust and dig into the pages of my travel diary to find material to compose one of those good o'l adventure story tellings.
This post tells an adventure story passed in Torres del Paine National Park (Chile) and is part of a bigger journey that I've released in parts on this blog or plan to tell you one day in totality. The whole collection of previous/future posts do not follow an order of events, but It's written in a way that you can read as parts of a book. Hope you enjoy.
This happened when I was hitchhiking Argentina and Chile in summer 2017. Carrying only the essentials and little money for the journey. I had left Buenos Aires in early January with the main goal to reach Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the americas. Plan was plain an simple: Work if needed, camp, hitchhike all the way, have loads of fun and let my desire guide the way.
I wrote on my travel diary.
I'm sitting at the entrance in Torres del Paine, without money, without a registration.The doubt lays between sneaking in without paying or going away. This is killing me.
January 14th, 2017. I found myself sitting there and seeing backpackers from all over the world carrying their expensive lightweight equipment out of big touristic buses at the entrance; the fees were exorbitantly high for a guy like me, that had been travelling for the past weeks without money, sleeping in my tent in the wilderness and contemplating freedom in its almost utopic way. At the same time, I had the knowledge of why fees were important in such a place and I respected that. However, that would be my only opportunity to witness the beauties of those trails, possibly in years to come. Will I let money get in the way? Should I give up on the moment and let an uncertain future guide my decisions? - I thought. Fuck it! Let's do it - I said to myself.
And so my mission to sneak inside Torres del Paine began. In front of me the car park, buses coming in packed with tourists, that was the no go zone. To the right a bridge crossing one of the rivers that led to the first camping site and a hotel 10 kilometers ahead. I was unsure if I'd need to pass any type of control near the bridge. What if I could go around? To the left a huge mountain marked with Guanaco (a type of Llama) paths that would allow a passage over the guardameria. Or I could try crossing the river away from everyone and find my own trail to the campsite, an option that would be dangerous and freezing.
With the river out of question, and still afraid of some sort of ticket control, I decided to go for the mountain, a steep climb to face with all the equipment and a not so hidden option to follow in plain daylight. But... at the time it sounded cool and I didn't think much about it. I walked, and climbed, and dragged my backpack; I walked past Guanacos and Maras; small stones rolled down the mountain rising a small dust on the dry soil. I'm sure some people must have seen me and questioned, What the heck is that guy doing? Why is he climbing up this random mountain instead of entering the park?
Well... I don't know either. Even though the views from the top were absolutely brilliant, I had just realised that even going over the entrance and descending ahead of it wouldn't solve my problem. From the top I could see the whole structure, there were no other bridges ahead to cross the river... only if I had a map...what a dumb idea to come up here. Why do I do this? - I thought. It was clear that I had waisted time and energy, disappointment was the word.
In situations like this you cannot let bad thoughts and emotions take control over your mind, or else you get stuck and you no longer are able to adapt your plans. Be mad, shout if needed, but in the end sit back, drink some water and re-access what you can do. That's what I did. I just sat there looking at the Torres, trying to think of a way to get closer, trying to think how I'd cross the goddamn entrance. I could've given up and hitchhike out of there, or I could build confidence to blend in and simply walk amidst the other backpackers. What would you do? Panic and walk away or fulfill your dream?
Cutting story short to avoid details of a not so legal activity, so I don't inspire others to do the same. I made my way inside. Adrenaline was kicking in and a feeling of freedom took control, I was finally walking towards my objective. I didn't plan to do the full circuit, as that would take 8 days of walking, thus increasing my chances of getting caught. But I was for sure going to see the Towers, and that made me happy and excited.
I walked up and down the valleys, amazed by the beauty of that place, the crystal clear waters of a strong flowing river generated from glaciars. The smell of a humid forest mixed with the dry soil of Patagônia. Altitude was getting higher and higher, my back was getting sore and my legs less strong as the kilometers passed by.
At that time my hopes were deposited on the free base camp near the towers, where I planed to camp that second night to rest and continue up to the towers. What a relief when I reached it! The place seemed full of tents, easier to blend in and disappear. Until...
- Oi, amigo! Do you have the permission? - A guy asked
I froze, oh shit, here we go down the drain - I thought. I had to do something, I had to come up with an answear immediately, or at least an excuse to explain being there without the goddamn permission.
- Ammmn, I don't... but I'm comming from Laguna Amarga just to see the towers, sleep, and go back tomorrow... I'm not doing the circuit. - I said.
- If you don't have the permission ou can't stay I'm afraid... you can go up the towers, but you won't be able to sleep here. - He said
- Ok... so if I cook here and go up there and back, is it fine? - I asked
- As I said, you can do that. It'll take you one hour to walk up there and the weather is supposed to change. If you still want to do it, it's sompletely on your own risk. - He said.
I promptly unpacked to cook and rush up the tower, a light rain had just started and I'd only have a few hours to contemplate the towers before walking the 4-5 hours back to the entrance. The light raing soon turned into a proper rain when the guy came back.
- Amigo, no more going up! Trail is closed due to heavy winds and an accident... you are no longer allowed to go up. - He said.
Fuck. I couldn't believe that in a spam of an hour all my efforts had gone down the drain. I'd no longer see the towers up close. I couldn't believe it. I was feeling so disappointed that I didn't think much, body and mind entered an automatic mode. I packed my stuff and under the rain started walking, non stop, no thinking, just walking. The five hours it took me to get there passed faster on the way back. Rain was stronger then ever and my full body soaked to the bone. The situation was so miserable that by night I reached a paid camping site with hot showers, I placed my tent under the rain and light of my headlamp without even thinking if they'd charge me or not. I took a hot shower and burried myself inside my cozy sleeping bag to a full 12 hours of sleep. And so, the other day I left.
- One day... I'll find a way and I'll have the money to visit this damn place. I won't be defeated - I thought.
That's how I ended up "almost" visiting Torres del Paine. After that I've lived many adventures in all sorts of different places. But I've never had the chance to go there again. At that moment I tried, I gave my best with what I had, I don't regret it. I'll never regret living the moment, instead of living an uncertain future, of not knowing how it would be, had I never tried.
Did you like reading this story? Would you risk the moment for an unknown future? Share on the comments!
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~Love ya all
Disclaimer: The author of this post is a convict broke backpacker, who has travelled more than 10.000 km hitchhiking and more than 3.000 km cycling. Following him may cause severe problems of wanderlust and inquietud. You've been warned.
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