We were embraced by beaming sunshine when we eventually woke up at 10AM. I was tired. The “Horns of Paine”,
with only a small section of glacier on a gully yesterday were now completely snow-capped. Our original plan
was to take the 12PM catamaran across Lake Pehoe to start our hike, but with all our wet gear still out
on a 20-ft clothes line desperately trying to soak up some heat, that option was pretty much out.
The next boat was 6:30PM. We toyed around with the idea of cycling all the way to Las Torres, 30K away,
and doing the "W" the other way around, but in the end, we decided to stick to our plan. (Hey, we are in Chile.)
It was a beautiful ride next to the lake with some pretty loose sections and lots of ups and downs. We made it to the
boat house at 2:30PM. After quite some dictionary-flipping and the help of a fluent Spanish/English speaking hiker,
the boat crew finally understood us and said we could put our bikes in their storage shed next to the dock.
With quite a couple of hours to spare, we unloaded our packs and took a more leisure and civilized ride to a nearby waterfall,
Salto Grande. I almost forgot what it was like to ride without overloaded panniers.
Salto Grande was only a short ride away. I really liked it, especially with Paine horns in the background.
I walked and Brian cycled the narrow trail from there toward a lookout until it was time for us to turn-back.
The crew invited us to their cabin after they saw us out eating sandwiches in the cold wind. They offered us coffee
and bread. One of the crew pointed to the barometer on the wall and told me the weather would be nice the day after.
I showed him the barometer on my watch. It had the same reading!
6:30PM, we secured in a shed near the docks our bikes and gear we wouldn't need for trekking and boarded the catamaran. There were only a handful
of other passengers. Once off, we got hot tea/coffee and Brian shared some of our chocolate with the crew too.
(Good PR gig, Brian)
The boat ride took about 20 minutes and it was almost dark when we got to the other shore. A group of shivering and
hungry-looking hikers were there standing and waiting in the wind to get out of the woods.
After a brief chat with a couple of Aussie trekkers at the trail head, we pressed on towards Glacier Grey. The track
is well marked and very well, if not too much, traveled. We passed a few people coming back towards the camp then we
pretty much had the trail to our own. The wind kicked in here and there as we traversed between valleys and ridges.
An hour later, it was too dark to go without a headlamp. Every so often, we could hear rivers or waterfalls roaring
close by. When we were on top of the ridge line, I could see something white to our left - I wanted to believe they
3.5 hours later, we came to the campground. After a short descent down through the woods, we were surprised to come to
a sandy beach with some 20-30 tents in the close vicinity. We quietly set ours up, had the last avocado and cheese
sandwich, and soon fell asleep like two rocks.