Travel | Backpacking in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

Last January, Austin and I visited Torres del Paine in Chile, with the goal of completing the ‘O’ circuit of the park. We ended up spending the vast majority of our 9 day trek battling rain, snow, and hurricane force winds (that will literally knock you over—as we learned the hard way, on multiple occasions). This wasn’t terribly unusual, given that Patagonia is known for having some of the most volatile weather on earth, even at the height of summer. Even so, I had hoped that we might have more than a day or two of pleasant weather—but it wasn’t to be. I was able to snap a few photos during the rare moments that were free of rain and howling winds, though not nearly as many as you would expect from a 9 day trek!

This was also the first backpacking trip we’ve been on where we used every single piece of gear and clothing we brought with us. Austin and I are not the types to ever head into the wilderness unprepared, but in this case, I was particularly grateful for the hours of careful packing and planning that we put into preparing for this trek.* We met other trekkers along the trail and in the campsites who were not so well prepared, and after days and days of wind, rain, snow, and mud up to our knees, we saw more than a few people throw in the towel and leave the park. We stuck with it, and were finally graced with a beautiful calm day—on our last day in the park.

After leaving Torres del Paine, we rented a car in Punta Arenas and took the ferry over to Tierra del Fuego to see a small colony of King Penguins. It was the perfect way to spend our third wedding anniversary!

*Our REI Arete tent deserves special mention here. I couldn’t believe that any tent could stand up to the winds we experienced in Torres del Paine. But this one did—admirably. We watched many other tents succumb, but we slept securely each night.