Virtuoso Life - September/October 2017 - 154
Hiking in Torres del
Paine National Park.
V I RT U O S O L I F E
60s and just a hint of breeze - unheard of here. We
devoured picnic lunches in a shady glen, then continued up through beech forest while a turquoise
river tumbled far below. The final push was the
hardest, a slog over big boulders, and as the trail
steepened, it grew surprisingly crowded. Patagonia
is one of the most sparsely populated regions on the
planet, but on this sunny Saturday it was as if everyone for miles around had had the same idea.
I was mopping sweat from my brow and grumbling about the trail traffic when we rounded a final
outcrop. Suddenly I understood why I had come. My
"Wow. Just ... wow," said the woman behind me.
Patagonia's most iconic peaks, the three "Torres," loomed over an aquamarine lagoon, each granite spire framed by cobalt-blue sky. A friend of mine
back home confessed she'd hiked the same trail two
days in a row, just hoping to catch a glimpse of these
peaks between clouds. But today, here they were,
every vertical foot visible - as were about 300 other
hikers sprawled at the base.
These people from all over the world had flown
thousands of miles and driven hours across the pampas and hiked all this way. Why? To see something as
real as rock. To see something wondrous that they
would then, for the rest of their lives, have seen.
TWO DAYS LATER, A DRIVER FROM EXPLORA PATAGONIA lodge ferried us
farther into the park. We bounced over gravel roads,
gazing out the window at one vivid-blue lake after
another, walls of sheer granite knifing up behind.
Although Explora is the oldest of the three lodges we
visited, it's also the most legendary - and the only
high-end lodge inside the national park. Del Sol's
first property, it has a clean, Scandinavian look and
sits like a white ship on the shores of Lake Pehoé,
surrounded by an amphitheater of craggy peaks.