A Big Steppe

We found a sheltered spot and waited for another two hours, hoping that we might get another glimpse but it was not to be!  We could not complain, however, as we had been rewarded for our early start by getting there in just the nick of time.  It was time to descend back down to the campsite.  As we neared the aforementioned rope across the path, we noticed a large group of hikers gesturing up at us and a pair of park wardens.  Clearly, the wardens were stopping people from ascending and these hikers were somewhat disgruntled at the sight of two hikers coming down from their desired destination.  We walked past slightly smugly, but also safe in the knowledge that we had not hopped any barriers or disregarded any notices!  As the weather cleared that afternoon, we were treated to a better view of the surrounding mountains…
The next morning we awoke to a beautiful clear sunrise, the towers now clearly visible to all around…
Readying ourselves to set off, I pumped up my tyres, only to find that the cut in my tubeless tyre didn’t particularly like the increase in pressure and so I sent Ryan on ahead, whilst I set about repairing it.  In this case, I was able to take the tyre off, clean the area up and apply a tube patch to the interior.
With the tyre mended and re-mounted, by midday I was finally able to get on the road and start heading out of the park.  The route, however, would take me along the front of the Torres del Paine range and I’d been blessed with a great day for it – I lost count of the number of times that I had to stop and marvel at it, especially once I began to cycle away, where turning my back on this natural wonder almost seemed like a profound transgression.
I caught up with Ryan just as we exited the park and then bade him farewell, since he was planning to wild camp somewhere, whereas I wanted to try and push on to Puerto Natales – the lure of a bed was too strong!  It was a full-gas effort to cover the 120km, given that I’d lost much of the morning to a relatively lethargically-paced pack-up and then had to fix the tyre.  Just before sunset, I rolled into Puerto Natales and set about the usual rigmarole of finding a hospedaje.  Eventually, I found a warm and homely place to pass a few days and was able to sink into a bed for the first time in almost 3 weeks!


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