The light from our headlamps swung back and forth, sweeping the forest floor and the canopy above for obstacles. We'd been up since 3:50 am, and after being treated to an impressive display of stars overhead, we were now blanketed by the forest. The trail gained elevation quickly and we spoke little as we climbed higher to the treeline. We passed a few tents set up illegally next to the river, likely victims of the overfilled campsite and nowhere else to turn for shelter. No one was going to turn around when they were so close to the trek's climax.
Remembering how sluggish we'd been when summitting Peak Boby for sunrise (Madagascar), we paused at the edge of the boulders to have a quick bite of chorizo and nuts, giving us the necessary fuel to power onwards. There was the faintest light in the sky when we began the steep climb to the Mirador's summit. Above us, the Torres, well, towered, filling the sky with their faint silhouette.
The beginnings of a sunrise broke above the horizon just as we scrambled to level ground. We reached our destination on time, and hiked down the hill to find a rock at the small lake's shore. Our unobstructed view of the Torres above us proved astonishing as the first light of the day crept down them, giving them a reddish glow. We sent a silent thanks to Diane for suggesting that we take a sleeping bag with us to shelter ourselves from the wind. But our main thanks was to the weather gods for giving us a day without cloud cover.
The atmosphere in the filled basin was joyous, us all sharing a common struggle and reward. We lingered longer than most, likely because of our extra layers of warm clothing, but finally turned back, our descent slowed by many peeks over our shoulders to see if they still looked as impressive. We made breakfast and packed up our tent, heaved our packs onto our backs and began our walk out.
We again were well ahead of schedule, the motivation to get home driving us onwards. We passed a gaucho (South American cowboy) leading a train of horses, and many hikers trying to get to the Torres as a day hike. We made the most of our extra time by pausing at the crest of the last hill and enjoying the view down into the valley below us. Our knees were screaming when we finally reached flat ground. We'd managed to complete 48km in 48 hours time.
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