The Holy Bible–AKA, Lonely Planet’s Trekking Patagonia–says to hike Torres del Paine’s “W,” and like faithful sheep, we follow our shepherd. Which, here, means attending the word-of-mouth gospel from Erratic Rock, their 3 PM info sessions on Chile’s most famous national park a must.
So, here we are, mostly North Americans and a few Frenchies, crowded in a space that most definitely feels like it was made by a dude from Portland–because, well, it was–being lead into how to prep for our 5- or 6-day circuit into the park by faithful Chilean guide dude who looks like a Tony but is probably more along the lines of a Jorge.
Yeh, guys, you follow?
For an hour, this free info session lead by Puerto Natales’ coolest hostel walks us through the campamentos and refugios and turning the “W” into a “Q” and gear and food and a whole lot of other info that makes me wonder just how gnarly or not trekking to see the most anticipated mountain of my life is really going to look like.
Tony promises us a week of bluebird temps, boasting to a roomful of eager beavers that we are the chosen ones, sure to experience the best weather ever, and that, “nah, ye won’t need rain pants. Forget ’em.”
I don’t have a pair to forget, but Graham does, unbeknownst to me, for even in the moment, I find our “yeh” master guide utterly nuts to offer such advice to a roomful of novices, because if there’s one thing hanging out with the Browns drills in my head, it’s the six P’s of life–Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
And, going pants-less in Patagonia is most definitely a no-no.
But, it’s not all smoke and mirrors, for Tony breaks down the 67 kilometer / 42 mile circuit into manageable tidbits going counter-traffic, west to east with the climax at the end, and for those of us used to true blue “wild” camping (seriously, did you realize that’s what you were doing when you pitched your tent somewhere random in a forest?), it’s soon clear that we are not in Yellowstone anymore, Boo Boo.
So, it’s off we go to find Tony’s elusive dried fruit and nuts and more vendor because, in case y’all forgot, lefts point us one way only–not right–and we stumble into the wrong one only to find out it’s the only one, vendor lady happy to have us empty her supply of instant oatmeal, nuts, dried kiwis, mango, banana, apple, pear, cherry tomato, GORP, and more, all for the bonus rate of $CP 23,000, or fifty bucks.
And, while it seems like a butt-load of fruit and nuts and grains, it’s really not THAT much food for six days of hoofing it, especially not with a beast of a man, and truth be told, I’m a little nervous of being underprepared and starving, even after our equally expensive run to the grocery store for essentials like hot chocolate, Snickers–seriously, we find a stash of minis hidden by the check out aisle, a pot of gold as far as Graham is concerned–tortellini, sausage, and more because, whisper, I’ve actually never backpacked for this long of a single stint in my life.
Catch me, yeh?
And, we are in a foreign store in a foreign country with foreign gear and foreign camping, and our to-to gourmet camping meals seriously dead-end after factoring in the whole, do-you-really-want-to-carry-a-week’s-worth-of-apples-and-carrots-on-your-back?
Didn’t think so.
When in Rome, right, so here we go: brown sugar, move over, ‘cuz this week, we’re gonna sweeten our oatmeal with some dulce de leche marmalade out of a mega squeeze packet.
… Because, there is no brown sugar and jam doesn’t come in jars.
So, what do we actually purchase? Here goes our list of more-than-enough goodies for six days of trekking, five days of camping:
750 grams oatmeal
200 grams raisins
Dulce de leche
200 grams each: kiwis, pineapple, peach, banana
800 grams mixed nuts
4 cans tuna
36 granola bars
Milka bar, extra large
Almond chocolate bars
Chocolate chip cookies
Spaghetti + bolognese sauce
Mushroom tortellini + tomato sauce
Carne ravioli + tomato sauce
Quinoa + dried cherry tomatoes
Total food cost: $CP 53,000 / $112