I have been avoiding this post since I finished doing “The W” way back in early February because since then I honestly had no clue how I was going to write about it. You know sometimes you experience things and you just don’t know how to share them with others? It’s an experience so profound that it changes you in a way you never thought something could. This was one of those experiences for me. The funny thing is that I had the tittle of the post, but no clue what I was going to write. From the start I knew I wanted to share what it was really like to hike “The W”, because after a lot of searching online I didn’t find much. After thinking long and hard about it I figured the best thing way to share what it’s really like on the trail was for me to share my journal entries directly as they are. I spent each night in my tent or in the kitchen or somewhere writing my thoughts and feelings of each day in my journal. After reading my journal entries, something I never do after I am done writing them I felt that this is what really captures what it’s really like to hike “The W” and am sharing them here.
This is a piece of me… my thoughts, my feelings… the good, the bad and all in between that come with disconnecting from the online world and doing a 75km+ (47 miles) hike on a trail that makes the shape of a W through the span of 5 day through Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the world.
Woke up at 6:15am again drenched in sweat. I love my hostel, but hate down comforters. I used to own one, but got rid of it for the same reason… makes me sweat too much. Anyway I showered, brushed my teeth and had breakfast. Love that my hostel offers great breakfast for free & at 6am. Anyway I then walked to the bus station, which is a 10 minute walk from the hostel. As I was walking I remembered that I left my ham and cheese in the fridge. I was so pissed, but was already halfway to the bus station and didn’t want to turn around. So that meant no sandwich lunches for me on my 1st two days off the hike. It’s okay though; I figured I would do with what I have. So then I arrived at the bus station and wow tons and tons of people. It was funny because on the way to the bus station you see a lot of backpackers walking. It’s like we are zombies in a sleepy little town. The bus took off and I was nervous, but passed out like usual. When I woke up we had arrived at the entrance of the park. We paid the C$18,000 ($30) fee to get into the park and then I had paid $10 to have a van drop me off 7km into the park. Had I known I would have probably just walked it, but then I arrived? I couldn’t believe it, but I wasn’t alone it was so many people doing it. I asked someone to take my photo. I wanted a before and after photo….lol.
—Here I am at the start… oh was I in for a ride.—
So I had fixed my walking sticks that I bought and was ready to go. Within a few minutes I had to stop and take off my jacket. It was too hot already. I met a Chilean couple and we talked a bit. The usual… What do you do? Where are you from? Where all are you traveling? Then I had to carry on because they were moving a bit slow. The hike to El Chileno was on the map a 5.5km hike. That’s all I needed to do today so knew it was going to be an easy day, an hour into the hike though I was tired. It was a steady climb up, but I finally made it to the top and it was majority downhill after that.
—My tent was made & ready each time I arrived at camp. Worth the splurge.—
Before I knew it in less than 2 hours I arrived at camp. I couldn’t believe how fast I arrived. I asked in the camp when I could check in and they let me know I could now. So they gave me my tent number and I came up here. I’m on platform 20. My tent was already made and my sleeping bag in there too. It was actually nice to arrive and have everything ready. I did a little EEEEeeeee dance. I was hungry so ate a few snacks, and then took a nap. After my nap I woke up and went down the camp and as soon as I walked in I bumped into Brandon a guy from Kentucky. I’ve been bumping into him since I arrived in Santiago. It’s crazy how everyone is kind of doing the same thing. So I met him in Santiago, bumped into him in Pucon then El Chalten and now here. It’s like everyone though is on the same damn path either up or down Patagonia. We spent the afternoon chatting. He’s been out here for 6 days. He did the Q. Well is doing the Q. and yeah he just left and now I’m sitting here in my tent as I wrote this. Today was honestly an easy day. According to my FitBit I walked 7.5miles so far. That’s nothing; tomorrow is going to be the real test when I have to walk almost 26km (16.25 miles). That’s going to be crazy, but have to do it. I’m actually now feeling better and more confident in myself. Seriously the last few weeks I’ve hiked more then I have in my life or so it feels like it so know they prepared me for this. For now I’m going to chill a bit and then have dinner. After that go to sleep because I have to be up at 3am and hike to the base of Torres del Paine. Oh and the scenery I almost forgot to mention its beautiful. So many trees, and rivers and streams. The weather has been crazy too, was sunny during my hike and is now windy and sprinkling and cloudy. Of course up here it can change drastically at any moment. So yeah. Okay well for now this it. Will be back later. XOXO
Where to even begin. Today I had tears roll down my eyes twice. The 1st was of joy and the 2nd was of missing him and wishing he were with me. Today was the toughest day so far, but also just so damn beautiful.
I woke up at 2:45am and didn’t snooze. I had gone to sleep at 8pm the night before and was excited for the day ahead. I had packed my daypack the night before so just changed and rolled out to go hike to see the sunrise over Torres del Paine. I was actually scared because I was alone. It wasn’t like when I did the sunrise at Fitz Roy because there it was 5 of us. I was determined to see it and wanted to leave early because even though it was only a 4km hike I knew it may take me longer. So I walked and bumped into a couple about to head out too so asked for directions because I was lost. I went the wrong way and ended up just tagging along with them. They had headlamps and knew where they were going. We chatted. They were from Santiago. So many Chilenos here. It’s actually quite shocking because I feel like I never meet a lot of people from the country I’m in doing things I’m doing. Anyway we chatted on our way until we faded apart. I was already at the last kilometer and that was the toughest part, it was the hike up to the Torres. My flashlight worked on and off. That sucked a bit, but thankfully the full moon was out to help guide me. The higher I got the colder it got. It was crazy cold and the higher I got the more I realized how many others were doing it. Everyone’s headlamp or flashlight looked like a fairy floating through the dark night sky. It was actually quite magical. After over 45 minutes I made it to the top and all I could see was portion of the towers and at that only silhouettes of them. I had no clue what to expect. I found the perfect spot and set up my tripod to get the shots. It took forever and I was freezing. Seriously my feet were freezing and my hands were going numb.
—Before the sun shined on them and waiting in the freezing cold.—
The sun was finally out and I was taking photos, but it wasn’t as magical as the sunrise at Fitz Roy. I was waiting for the towers to turn colors and nothing. It had been an hour already and seriously my hands were so cold. As I waited it was also snowing. YES SNOWING. FUCKING CRAZY! So I had given up and had settled for my few shots. I started walking back towards the way out when I turned around to say goodbye to the towers and I saw the sunlight hit the towers. I got excited and hurried back. It wasn’t colorful, but to see the sunrise go onto the towers and turn them brighter and brighter and the outline of the clouds too. I was freezing, but kept snapping away. Finally I knew I had to go, so I said, “goodbye” and made my way back.
—I’m in the dark but the sun finally shined on the towers.—
I was back before 9am and really wanted to take a nap, but knew I had to carry on or I would never make it to my next camp. According to the map I had 17km to get to the camp and had already done 8km. So I got back made myself a peanut butter sandwich and ate a few cookies and hit the road. When I left I used the bathroom and bumped into Brandon again. He too was heading down so we went together. He was on his last day and was going to leave. He did the Q an had been in the park 8 days. Freaking crazy and before we knew it was time to split up because I was taking the shortcut to Refugio Cuernos. I’m sure I’m going to see him in Ushuaia because he’s heading down there. As I write this I’m in the cooking area and 4 Chileans are cooking their food talking about what they’re doing tomorrow and how they’re exhausted and still have lots to go. Anyway I said bye to Brandon and carried on. As I was walking I still couldn’t believe what I was doing. The scenery was just so beautiful. In the distance the clouds rolled over what looked like chocolate and violet colored hills. It was endless clouds and endless hills along with my endless thoughts just rolling. I was all by myself…
Sorry I’m back as I was writing in my journal I turned around and bumped into Sandy. She’s a girl I met in my hostel. She’s so freaking beautiful and nice. She is from France. We clicked the moment we met. She is also doing the W, but in the other direction and is a day ahead of me. When she saw me she excelled so loudly and we both just hugged each other and looked at each other and said we are doing this. She told me how she the 1st day and wanted to give up, but didn’t and that she is just barely making it out alive. She told me her story and I told her mine. I kept telling her she’s brave, because she’s doing the real deal. She’s carrying food, tent, sleeping bag the whole deal. As where I’m well arriving to each camp and my tent and sleeping bag are ready and buying dinner each night. Anyway I told her they had hot water and she jumped with joy. She did her thing and it was time for me to have dinner so now I’m back in my tent. So anyway back to where I was.
—Put my camera on the tripod. I wanted to capture this moment. Still replays in my mind.—
So I was all by myself and the scenery was just crazy and as I walking I just felt so free and screamed, “IM FREE” and tears of joy rolled down my face. It was a heavy emotion of freedom and breathing fresh air and not worrying about anything, but my walk to the next camp. I was so happy and kept walking along and happy thoughts kept crossing my mind and then thoughts of everything I’ve done in my life and then thoughts of when I wasn’t free, because of my incident of drinking and driving and remember how depressed I was then and what a mess my life was. Again I felt so happy at how far I have come. I’m so proud of myself. Hours past and I couldn’t believe I was still walking. I had been walking forever. Then my thoughts turned nuts and of what I miss most in life and as I was seeing the blue lake and the yellow/green hills and I just wished he was here with me. I hate that not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and then just like that tears of hurt rolled down my cheeks and I wanted to scream to the mountains behind me with anger and frustration, but didn’t. I know I could be there right now if I wanted to, but I want to do this trip and will do this trip. I will be back in Egypt before I know it.
So then I knew it was time to listen to music because my mind was driving me crazy. I don’t like listening to music on hikes because honestly I like hearing the sounds Mother Nature provides and also because outlets are scarce here and well want to save my batter for photos because I am addicted to Instagram. So finally after 4 hours I made it to camp. They had my tent ready and I was good to go. I wanted to take a nap, but knew I needed to charge things and took my journal with me and well that is when I bumped into Sandy. So I just finished dinner and well am honestly exhausted. My legs hurt a lot, but that’s about it. Tonight when I change into my shorts to sleep I will stretch and yeah I’m going to bed early because tomorrow is another long day for me. Like crazy long day and shit just realized I lost my bottle of water. Son of a bitch, I’m not going to pay crazy amount of money for a bottle or anything. I guess from now on I will have to drink at every river I pass. I fucking love doing that anyway. I’m exhausted. It’s only 8:11pm but I’m ready to pass out. What’s crazy is that the sun will not go down for another two hours. The days are long.
—Crossing a bridge on Day 2.—
I can barely hold my pen. My hands hurt from holding the walking sticks all fucking day. It’s so bad I don’t even want to masturbate tonight.
I’m laying here in my tent and just want to cry. Today was so fucking hard. The souls of my feet are in pain. I’m so lucky I don’t have blisters like others, but still I can barely stand up anymore. I walked 25km again today… AGAIN! It was hell after yesterday. You know how much 25km is? THAT’S 5 fucking 5ks… FIVE! Who does this shit? All morning I was saying in my head what I was going to do today – Cuernos to Italiano to Britanico to Italiano to Paine Grande. Yeah 25 fucking kilometers running through my mind. This morning I had put my alarm for 7am so could be out and on the road by 8am. That didn’t happen. My legs were so soar I needed more sleep and did for an extra hour. When I realized it was 8am I freaked out and hurried up. I ate my peanut butter sandwich did my bag and hit the road. Getting to my next stop was a breeze. Don’t know how I did it so quick, but did.
—Everyone dumps their backpack here and takes a small daypack up. It’s a relief!!!—
At Italiano I left my backpack there so I could hike up to Britanico. A 5.5hm hike up (and 5.5km back) to a viewpoint. Halfway up I was over it. Yes it was stunning views, but never fucking ending. It was boulder after boulder; hill after hill just up and up and the trail was marked with orange dots. Along the way was cursing them in my mind and am glad it’s not my favorite color because I fucking hate orange now. I wanted to give up, but right when I was just going to stop to catch my breath (omg that’s the name of a Kelly song jajaja) and rest a guy said 5 more minutes and you are there. He was coming down. That made me smile and I hurried up and made it to the top. Ahhhh it was worth it. The view was fucking stunning. I was in the middle surrounded by mountains everywhere and one of them is the back side of Torres del Paine.
—Looking at the back side of Torres del Paine.—
I stayed there almost 45mins even though I knew I shouldn’t because I had a 2 hour walk down and then carry on to Paine Grande. But it was too beautiful and wanted to soak it in. Sadly had to make my way down. Made it back and got my bag. It was the last leg of my treck that day and I thought I was fine, but I wasn’t. At this point I only had 7.5km to go, but my feet didn’t want to do it. I kept stopping and questioning everything.
WHY THE FUCK DO WE HAVE MOUNTAINS?
WHY THE FUCK DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELEVES?
I wanted to give up and one point I did. I just threw my shit down and sat my ass down.
—The lowest point of my 5 day hike. I asked someone to take a photo because needed it documented.—
Everyone just passed me and looked at me like poor guy, but I GAVE ZERO FUCKS. I was eating my cookies and was done for the day. Seriously I was just going to stay there the rest of my life because WHO INVENTED THIS W ANYWAY?
Then two girls walked by and said “OMG… YOU”RE HOUSTON TX!” I was like “WHAT?” – “Yeah yesterday you showered too.” I was like “WTF?” and she said “you met our friend at the sunrise at the Torres and then yesterday you bumped into us while you were on your way to shower and we still had a long as hike to Italiano.” I was like wow I would have never known. She said, “me either but that bright pink shirt can’t be forgotten. It’s the brightest thing out here.” I laughed. She said come on we’re almost there, like 45 minutes to go. I said no fucking way and got up and carried on with them. We took photos during our walk…
—They forced me to smile because I was still in the dumps.—
Sarah is from Ireland and the other girl is from Poland. The whole walk back we were talking about men and we agreed that Argentinean men are beautiful creatures from another world and Chilenos not so cute. We want to know what happened. Then we kept walking and we were nowhere near the camp. It took us forever and then I said the camp doesn’t exist and it reminded me of Mean Girls so I said “The limit doesn’t exist” and they knew exactly what I was talking about. Ahhh I love how universal Mean Girls is and then out of the blue from a distance we could see the camp. I got so excited. It was also almost 6pm and my goal was to arrive at 6pm. I hurried up and got here at 5:58pm!!!! I was so fucking happy. I checked in and they gave me my tent. I threw my self into the tent and took of my shoes off. My feet were throbbing. I made myself go to the bathroom to wash my hands and then I had dinner. Tonight I didn’t pay for dinner. Thought I’d save my $20 and have some tuna on my pita bread and my hot sauce. It tasted it so damn good. I was starving. Now that it’s been 2 hours since I arrived I can say it was a beautiful walk and that what I am doing is amazing, but shit it’s just exhausting.. This is intense. Now though I’m going to shower and then go have drinks with people I met. If I come back and don’t pass out I’ll write some more.
Day 3 continued:
—Party in my tent… OMG was hilarious.—
I’m buzzing. Yeah I knew this would happen. It’s crazy how I bumped into so many people I met on my 1st day here. Anyway it started with a liter of wine and some honey Jack Daniels and then they kicked us out of the kitchen area and we all left. I went to my tent and saw that my neighbors were still up (3 girls from Santiago). It’s crazy how the only Latinos I have met are Chilenos and all from Santiago. Anyway they were awake and I asked them to wake up and that I had a small bottle of Rum and they came to my tent. All 4 of us were in my tent and we laughed and kept drinking my rum. Anyway tonight was all about friends so we drank on.
MY LIFE HAS BEEN CONSUMED BY THE W!
On the trail it’s all we talk about day and night.
Where you going?
What day are you on?
Are you doing the W, the O, the Q?
It’s crazy how disconnected we are from the rest of the world. Today as I was walking I actually thought of the outside world. I hadn’t at all since I started. I mean I thought about my friends and family and hope everything is fine. I also thought of Kelly Clarkson because she was releasing the video to her song on the day I let to start this and can’t wait to watch it. Even though the Heartbeat Song isn’t that great. Anyway so I had intentions of waking up at 8am to be hiking by 10am but that didn’t happen. I woke up slightly hung-over from the drinking I did the night before. OMG it was so much fun. Had to of been at least 20 Chilenos and I cracking jokes until 1am when they kicked us out and sent us all to bed.
—You can’t see the rain, but it’s raining.—
When I woke up it was raining hard and I seriously thought “Fuck it’s going to rain all day” and it didn’t. It was almost 11am and I had to get going. Finally it stopped raining and at 11:30am I took off. I had 11km to hike and I thought it was nothing. Crazy how now I see 11km and think “OH THAT IS NOTHING”. After doing 25km two days in a row of course it’s nothing, but fuck the hike was tough. A lot of ups and downs and since it was gray skies the views weren’t that nice. I kept looking at the trail and carrying on. I was on a mission to get to the Refugio, but towards the end seriously slowed down. I just couldn’t but kept going I didn’t stop.
My body is torn.
My neck hurts, my back hurts, my hands hurt, me feet are fucking exhausted. Seriously they hate me for doing this to them and my legs too, but I just keep going. I knew it was my last night here and that I’m almost done. That’s what kept me going. During the walk I just thought of the outside world, because the trail turned into a dark place for me and was taking it’s toll on me. The crazy thing is I haven’t craved WiFi like I thought I would. It’s actually even more liberating to not worry about my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and everything else. It’s another type of freedom. It’s a nice detox. I must do this more often. So finally 3.5 hours later I arrived at Refugio Grey. I checked in and had my lunch, tuna with pita bread and hot sauce. Then took a nap. When I woke up I bumped into people I have kept bumping into the entire time so decided to go to the Mirador Grey together to see the glacier. It was a short 15-minute walk. The view was nice. It’s a huge glacier. Not as big as Perrito Moreno Glacier, but still big.
—This was the end of the circuit for me Glacier Grey.—
It felt nice because that was it. We finished The W. Like the circuit is done. Now just sleep and retrace my path back to Paine Grande to catch the catamaran and bus to Puerto Natales. Now as I sit here in my tent I’m so tired I need to shower, but I’m not. I did last night and well honestly just don’t want to deal with it all so am not. It’s almost dinnertime. I bought dinner for tonight because yeah I’m starving for a good meal. So I’ll be back. Oh and I’m going to meet my friend for a card game after. So will do that. Just got back from dinner. OMG it was so good. It was lentil soup, a big piece of boneless chicken with rice and cheese and then a nice strawberry desert. Seriously was so good and just what I needed I sat at a table with 4 Canadians 2 Swiss and a Chileno. Had some great conversations and just laughed. Then I went and was going sit down with my friends, but bumped into a Brazilian couple that used my bed in the hostel to pack their things. They are doing to the O and are on day 5. Freaking crazy! Then went to the dinner room and saw my Chilean Family. I had been having dinner with them every night. They like adopted me. They’re doing The W too, but staying in beds in the Refugio’s and buying all meals and everything. We always had great conversations. Tonight I learned that one of the sons does Street Art and he puts stickers all over. His tag is SPAM and he gave me a sticker. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to them. I know I won’t see them again. It was a family of 5 the mom, dad, daughter and 2 sons. They were so nice. And after that I looked for my friends to play cards, but didn’t find them. Was kind of glad because I was exhausted and need to sleep. I’m ready to sleep now. It’s only 9:30pm, but want to be walking before 8am tomorrow. I just hope it’s not raining in the morning because I have to go regardless because I want to take the 12:30pm boat to catch the early bus back to Puerto Natales. Can’t believe this is almost over. Like just one more sleep and then 11km back and that’s it. Fucking crazy. Now I can’t stop smiling, but okay Good Night. XOXO
EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeee!!! I DID IT!!!!!!
Can’t fucking believe it. I’m currently lying on a bed. A FUCKING BED!!! Do you know how nice it feels after 4 nights in sleeping bags on the hard ground? Oh it’s amazing! I’m also showered and clean and feel fresh. So lets go back to the beginning of the day. Somehow I woke up at 6:45am and felt fine. Like I felt normal. I couldn’t believe it so woke up had a little peanut butter sandwich (I was so tired of them by then) with banana chips and packed everything up. I was ready and already hiking at 7:30am. My plan was to leave by 8am rain or shine so was nice to leave early. I was going to take my time. That was my plan, but some how I hiked the 11km back to Paine Grande in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The walk back some how seemed like a breeze. Maybe my legs are used to it now and it also helped that my backpack was a lot lighter now because almost all my food was gone. Along the walk I was jamming to my girl Kelly Clarkson. Maybe that helped too….lol. I saved the best for last jaja. Along the walk though the wind was insane. Seriously so strong and so cold I kept wondering where in the world does wind come from? Like seriously who is doing it? The good thing too was that I didn’t have to walk against it. I was walking with it. So that too may have helped me. My mind was just so happy because I was almost done and couldn’t believe it. Kept retracing everything I had done and it’s insane.
Before I knew it I was back at Paine Grande and wanted to scream I did it. Instead I did a mini “E” of excitement for myself. I was done. I went to find my neighbors the ones that I shared my rum with and they were packing up too. They were done too and did it. We planned to meet in the kitchen. When we were there I bumped into Andrew too he had finished too and we all sat there together and then I remembered I still had a bit of rum left so brought it out to celebrate. We each took a gulp. Yeah @ 11am drinking. Then it was time to wait in line for the catamaran.
—As we waited in line for the catamaran we all took this photo.—
It was so freaking cold but we were so excited. We were almost done like for real. The boat arrived at 12:30pm and we took off. It was so many people who got off the boat 1st and we all looked at them with eyes of “Oh you don’t know what lies ahead. ” They all looked so clean and excited. Where as the rest of us looked torn, beat, exhausted and dirty, many people even limping.
Oh Torres del Paine you’re more like the “trail of pain”, literally.
So by the way back to land we slowly drifted away from the park and I felt like I had survived the hunger games and was being rescued. We got on the bus and made it back to Puerto Natales before 5pm. I had one more hike to do to the hostel. Was back and it was back to reality for me. I unpacked and reorganized everything and showered. As I lay here the wind is blowing so hard outside and I imagine that I’m still out there. Making my way out there in the wilderness.
Honestly at the moment I don’t know how to explain what the last 5 days have been and were to me and mean to me. Yes I wrote every day and documented some details, but I don’t know if I can ever put those 5 days into words to truly show what it was for me. I feel so much pride for myself right now. I accomplished this. I did it, on my own and succeeded. I feel like I deserve a medal…. Shit it’s no joke over 80km in 5 days… that’s insane, but yeah I fucking did it and now it’s just a memory in my life one that I will be proud of forever. I’ll try to come back in a few days to write a few more thoughts on this because it’s a lot to soak in. Now time to rest a bit before I go out with friends I made on the trail to celebrate our accomplishment with beer and pizza. Best way to celebrate jaja.
So that’s it, all my journal entires from my time hiking “The W” in Torres del Paine National Park. That’s what it is really like to hike “The W”. Plus you got a glimpse of how I write in my journal. I think I am going to be sharing more of my journal on a few post to come.
Looking back at this though I just smile and think, “I did it.” You honestly don’t know what an achievement it is until you do it and can share that feeling with others who have done it too. I look back at those 5 days and honestly look at them as some of the best days of my life. I’ve done many things in my life, but this was a first. Never had I camped out in the wild for 4 nights and hiked for 5 days days through a national park. When I first heard about this I had told myself I was going to do it, but as it got closer was going to back out, but in the end knew I had to do it or I would regret it. This was way out of my comfort zone, but isn’t that what travel is about? Travel is about doing things that are out of your comfort zone to learn new things about yourself. After I finished this hike I learned that I really do enjoy hiking. I had already been hiking a lot on my way down Patagonia but this was what sealed the deal for my love of hiking. I had never been so immersed in something like this or pushed myself to these extremes and to actually accomplish it was a feeling like no other.
This was just one of those experiences for me that I will never forget and even though I had no clue how to share it with y’all I hope that my journal entires give you a glimpse of what it’s like to hike the famous “W” in Torres del Paine National Park.