Arriving in Puerta Natales, the wind was just silly (I felt fully vindicated in baling on the ride from Punta Arenas; I´d have never made it!), so I donned my hiking boots (finally, it´s been worth lugging them with me these past months!) and headed into Torres del Paine national park for four days of hiking.
It seems you use very different muscles for hiking than cycling... being a little overzealous on the first day (probably to prove to myself that I wasn´t a wimp for taking buses, why am I so stupid?!), I was practically lame the next couple of days, hobbling around the mountains like an 80-year old. It was embarrassing!
The park was stunning - forests, massive turquoise lakes, some with glaciers tumbling down into them, and huge rocky "towers" - the Torres that the park is named after. Breaktakingly beautiful and unbelievably windy! At times it was impossible to do anything but go (stumble, trying to lift my useless legs over the rocks and tree-roots always trying to trip me up...) with the wind, at speed! But the weather, despite not being particularly good (ok, generally pretty terrible), actually added to the whole thing. Along with the wind, one minute it was raining so hard you couldn´t look up, the next it was sunny, and then it was snowing! It made it really interesting and fun!
Some nice lakes - the second one has chunks of really blue ice floating in it that have broken off the glacier further north.
A couple of the glaciers - and an indication of the weather!
On the final morning, I got up and hiked up to a view point of the towers for sunrise. 5.30am alarms, how I love them! Losing the path, I ended up struggling for an hour across a snow-covered boulder field in the dark, but coming to the top and seeing the sun hitting the Torres made it all worth while! It was beautiful and peaceful up there, and within ten minutes, the clouds had come in, obscuring the view, so I was really lucky.