Here at last is the heart of Patagonia:
One of the surprising benefits of staying at Awasi was actually the distance from the park, which tended to be hung with clouds that sat over it, as well as more crowded. From the short distance, we were able to hike in places like the Baguales, completely devoid of tourists, as well. But as our trip neared closer, we did make a few jaunts into the actual national park of Torres Del Paine, stopping at lookouts like Lago Nordenskjord to capture that thick blue of the glacial lakes.
From there, we hiked the Mirador Condores (translated "Condor Lookout") hike in the early evening.
We ascended faster than normal as there was a group of 30 or so Chilean high school students on our tails, so I was huffing and puffing, as the walk went nearly straight up at points.
We quickly gained altitude as well as gusts. The wind was so strong at the top that I feared for the camera gear,
but as you can see, it was clearly happy taking shots like these.
Diego, our fearless guide, joined me in my Patagonian hobby of sitting on the side of the mountain-top with less wind.
Meanwhile, Walker shot these photos in all directions from the top, the winds sucking around him, and the un-pictured teens bantering around.
This beauty is nearly unrivaled in our travels.
The way back down took us through the bone-white remnants of a forest fire,
and the hike circled back to our views from earlier. Diego had gone back to bring the car around for us, and at one point, I completely forgot which way he'd said to go, and we had to backtrack back up to get on the trail.
So clearly, I was not a happy hiker then. We did see a condor sweep right over us, but it was too windy and quickly to capture on camera.
You can see me way ahead, booking it back to the car. I was cold!
The temperature dipped quickly and I was a bit anxious to find the car, as we'd already taken one wrong turn.
These photos make me laugh because I look very determined. But it could also be that the winds were so strong, I struggled to hold my footing.
Diego arranged the hike for scenic views on both ends of the hike, so we came down into the center of the park.
When we found Diego at the end, he was waiting with a large cheese board on the truck's trunk. I took a bit and warmed up inside ;). Thank you, Walker, for reminding me of my temperature woes while traveling.
Driving home, we stopped along the road to look at the peaks in the evening clear, sharp and austere.
You can see the blue shining off the glacier hanging high on the cliffs.
The light stayed late, and we drove back to the lodge at 9:30pm
with all the colors folding into the land for the night.