We leave Paine Grande just short of 4 PM, happy and content to have seen the mountain majesties and to have shot the bull with Frederic from Montreal, a pretty cool Canadian dude off for two months during his construction gigs, who is at camp for the night, for he plans to press onward in the early morn.
We, however, do not, and it is high time to wrap up the day’s hiking. Nothing like a 7 km jaunt to round out a day of walking, and contrary to this morning, I am blazing hot.
Damn, this sunshine is toasty, and were it not for the preceding day of hell, I almost wish for it to go away to play some other day.
For now, we head to Camp Italiano, Torres del Paine’s worst-kept secret, for this camp is theoretically closed. That is, unless you roll in after the ranger closes up shop at 7 PM, so we are told, and that is exactly what we–and everyone else–plan to do.
Every step sends us closer to these beautiful peaks, the path relatively flat given how high these mountains shoot up, because if there’s one nice thing about hiking in these parts, it’s that elevation gain is negligible but the views are stellar, for granite peaks grow out of the ground thousands of feet high.
Of course, we cross paths with the ranger, great for us because it means the coast is clear, only, it’s not because we fumble and lie and clearly head to whence he came, our muddled responses a weak screen for our deception.
The river sounds its rumble, indicating we must be getting close, and as seems to be the case, we traverse our third sketchy bridge of the trek, this one slightly swaying in the breeze, one person at a time as we fingers-cross our way across.
And, just like that, we make it home free.