Chile: Torres del Paine

Region:  Southern Chile
Length: 62 miles, or less

The Torres del Paine National Park is located in Chilean Patagonia, between the massif of the Los Andes Mountain Range and the Patagonian steppes.  As the Lonely Planet says: "The Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) are spectacular granite pillars that dominate the landscape of what may be South America's finest National Park. Trails meander through emerald forests, alongside and over roaring rivers, past radiant blue glaciers, azure lakes and up to jaw-dropping lookouts. You can hike into the vast openness of the steppe, heading to less-visited lakes and glaciers. Unpredictable at best, weather systems can sheath the peaks in veils of clouds that hold for hours, if not days. 

The two most common treks are the complete Paine Circuit 62 miles (100 km; 9 days)— or the abbreviated "W" (4-5 days).

I did the W circuit, solo, and enjoyed suspiciously blue skies and gorgeous weather for the first four days.  On the fifth day, the heavens opened, the winds swept down, and by the time I finished forging new rivers and limped into the ranger station at the edge of the park, my rainpants were a collection of shredded ribbons, loosely attached at the waistband.  It was quite dramatic.


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