Morning in the Serón campsite dawned beautifully.
Which was encouraging and refreshing, as this would be our longest distance day. 11 miles to our next campsite!
The first few miles hugged the river, Rio Paine, so we enjoyed some level trail through the tall grass. Not a bad way to spend a morning. Not at all.
Our trail curved Northwest and began to incline, up to a high mirador (what they call scenic viewpoints in Spanish) with some gusty winds and incredible sights over a turquoise lake to more mountains in the distance.
Spectacularly lucky that we got to do this leg of the trip on such a gorgeous day. And then….a gift from the sky spirits! CONDORS.
As we were resting at the top of the mirador, there they were – floating on the warm thermals like it took no effort at all. Enormous wingspan, unmistakable black and white backs, with the distinctive white “collars” against the rest of their black feathers. It had to have been at least 10 of them, and as we stood there in stunned silence they just circled and glided, passing so close to us at times that they were almost in arms’ length. I was afraid to move because it might scare them and they’d fly away.
Our perspective was even cooler because, often, they would be flying UNDER us over the side of the cliff!
It was an awe-inspiring couple of minutes. Silent but for the wind, with giants gliding among us. When they finally moved away, David broke the silence with “Ooookay, mountain condors…my new favorite bird.”
Continued on alongside the Lago Paine for a while until we hit our halfway mark at the ranger station, Coiron. Can’t get past this point without your hard-copy reservations of the campsites. Filled up our water at the stream nearby – it’s the most incredible thing, being able to drink some of the purest water on Earth out of a stream. We would fill our water bottles and camelbacks from streams all over the park and there would be hardly a speck of sediment. And the TASTE! So crisp, so incredibly cold and refreshing, nothing like any water we’d ever tasted before. Sometimes, we would stop to take drinks out of a stream even if our camelbacks were still full…just to savor the fact that we were in this incredible place where you are ACTUALLY able to do that.
After lunch near the ranger station, tackled our second half of the day. The nice part was that this half was much more “tranquillo” as they would say – snaking grassland paths through the foothills on the backside of the park. Reminded us of the foothills in Fort Collins, near Horsetooth area. Vibes of our home mountains ❤
Of course, then you come across views like Glacier Dickson devouring a mountainside and are reminded you’re not in the Rockies anymore. This is Patagonia.
We also got great sunset views of the backside of the towers and this magnificent granite canyon that basically looked like an amphitheater for God. Just…amazing. As we walked, the shadow of the sunset crept across it.
Those last 2 miles were brutal, my friends. We each, separately called for multiple “back breaks” as they were neeeeeeded. The shoulders and mid-backs were the most sore at the end of day 2. Plus it was infuriating to have tours of people passing us carrying basically nothing because they’d paid to have all their own shit carried in by other people or horses. ARGH
By the time we crested that last mirador and were looking down at Dickson refugio and campsite..the sun was getting pretty low, not gonna lie. Dickson was actually situated really nicely, on a peninsula on a lake that had a view in the distance of Glacier Dickson. Again, the hot showers were welcomed and dinner after days like that is just godly. I think we ate lentils and some pasta, and it was just a wonderful feast despite the simplicity (a common theme in our meals). All food tastes like heaven when you’re ravenous and have trekked all day. It is satisfying on a level that goes beyond being satiated from stuffing yourself full at a nice restaurant. Like, you eat to replenish your body from what it lost and because you know you’ll need it for the next day and it is just the best feeling to fall asleep knowing that your body did everything you pushed it to do.
We’d forgotten what it felt like to tap into the strength of a human when confronted with the savage of the wilderness. More on that to come.
See all the photos here: