Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 223: Cerro Torre

After hiking 27 km the day before, we figured we'd best wake up and go for a 29 km hike today! The Laguna Torre trail wound its way along a river, through hillside meadows, and forests, showing the first signs of fall. It felt very much like a stroll through Nose Hill or Weaselhead for those familiar with Calgary parks. An early highlight was the best (read most stereotypical) viewing either of us have ever had of a woodpecker, as he hammered away at the bark.

After an hour we reached the Mirador, offering our first full view of Cerro Torre. The trail then dove into a flat valley and we moseyed along enjoying near continuous views up the mountains. Though hungry, we persevered and made it to the lake before eating our packed lunch of canned lentils with vegetables. Glacier Grande at the base of the tower provided icebergs to drift along the shore, though its 'glacial milk' suspended minerals in the water so fine they do not settle. Together with a light wind, they obscured the water of a reflection.

Having received limited information on the hikes, we knew that another 3 km would bring us to another Mirador, but we were not entirely sure what we would get to see or how difficult it would be to get there. A short climb to the ridge led to a long slog up the ridgeline, the toil of the hike offset by the constant panoramic views. We reached the unimpressive end of the trail when we happened upon the sign that to us said 'Congratulations! You're now in danger!' (from falling rocks).

We paused briefly to eat a second lunch looking down on the glacier and staring up in awe at the vertical cliff face of Torre before starting back down. Although we were exhausted, we made excellent time cutting an hour off the time estimate of our map. The evening ended much like the one before, with a delicious meal, a quick shower, and a collapse on the bed.

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