My stomach in knots, I stored the last of our things in the locker provided by the youth hostel. We were supposed to come back to pick them up in a few days, before hitchhiking our way upwards through Patagonia.
It was early, way too early for two people struggling with jetlag. We'd landed in Buenos Aires three days ago, a short touchdown before our five-months trip really started. We had made our way down to Puerto Natales, and gotten our backpacks ready for ten days of hiking in Torres del Paine on the Q circuit.
Getting on the bus to the national park did nothing to quiet to anxiety. I sat silently, my hands clammy and cold, reading long exposure tutorials to pass the time. The truth was, I'd stupidly never hiked more than 10K in one go before we set out on these world-famous trails. We had of course half-heartedly said we would 'get in shape' before the trip, but we'd decided to enjoy Christmas instead: sucking it up would have to do.
The sun flickered on the horizon, wiping sleep and mist from its eyes. The day warmed up, shimmering in the early morning light.
We perfunctorily grabbed our passes and watched the safety videos, then made our way to the start of the trail. The hike ahead of us ran over 22K, with reasonably steep terrain changes.
Decked out in our full gear, we hiked up our bags and started walking.
Falling into step with each other, we soon find a cruising rhythm, and the first few miles flew by. I quickly realised that browsing tracks would get me out of the zone, so I decided to entirely rely on three tracks to keep me going. Bonobo, Nicolas Jaar and Djuma Soundsystem on repeat, the tempo building up, we picked up the pace as a storm rolled in.
We'd heard enough stories about the whimsical Patagonian weather to look for shelter when the rain started getting heavy. By then, we were completely soaked despite the full waterproofs, miserably beaten up by powerful gusts of wind. We ran until we reached a tiny wooden shed, where films and camera were examined for water damage.
Frustrated and powerless, we stood still, entirely depending on the weather conditions to carry on. We still had several high passes to cross in the mountains, and a tent to pitch before sunset.
Then, as suddenly as it started, the wind died down and sunshine pierced the cloud cover. Regaining hope, we set out to make up our delay.
I was determined to use the remaining 15 shots on my roll of T-Max before switching to colour for most of the trip. Luckily, the now glorious weather made for a gorgeous backdrop against the ragged peaks of Torres del Paine.
The rest of the hike was quite uneventful, withstanding a few moans and cries of despair. We made it to camp before sunset, just as a gigantic rainbow appeared above the waters of Lago Pehoe. We soon plopped down next to our camping spot. Relieved, I rejoiced at the thought of a restful night ... Until I remembered the 15K waiting for us the next day.