Glacier Gray to Valle Francés (Day 3 of Torres del Paine)

It rained all night and I woke up to a somewhat wet tent, I hadn’t staked my rain fly out well enough. But the sleeping bag stayed dry thank goodness! The sky opened up just as I started to take my tent down, so I packed up in record time then dried out over some oatmeal and coffee.

My other luxury, besides wine, was to bring Starbucks Via packets and powdered creamer. I wasn’t quite sure about bringing the white powdered creamer (loose in a ziplock bag) through customs but it was fine. Apparently drug dogs don’t have a thing for Coffee-Mate. Having that strong coffee each morning definitely started my day off right!

Stefan and I did a quick hike up the trail to get a better view of the glacier and the iceberg. Really impressive! This is Stefan and I showing the scale of the iceberg.

Man vs Iceberg

Me and Glacier Gray

The group got a late start heading down, but we finally left around 11am to head back down the trail to Paine Grande, retracing our route from yesterday, and then heading over east to Campamento Italiano. The views on the way back were just as impressive as the day before:

Glacier with red brush

We arrived at Grande feeling tired (I think the day before had worn us out) so we rested our feet for a bit and listened to incoming hikers tell us what a hellhole Italiano was. “Bug infested”, “swampy”, “wet”, “muddy”….. not very enticing terms. Oh, and they also said that the Valley that you hike up to from there, the main reason to be there, was so fogged in they couldn’t even see anything. “Stay the night at Grande” they all said.

Here’s a view of Grande refugio/camping from afar:

Paine Grande Refugio

Still, with all that we continued on to Italiano to see for ourselves. Whether we stayed at Grande or Italiano, we would still need to hike that section to get to Torres. And here lies a lesson that I think I keep relearning each time I travel:


Especially if they’re people you don’t know. We loved Italiano! It was nicely wooded along a creek and we found the bugs to be minimal. Much preferable to Grande campsite which is basically tents in a yard next to the refugio building. Yes we needed to perform some muddy acrobatics to get there:

Muddy trails

…but sometimes that’s all part of the fun 🙂 The second half of the trail was solid mud sections. Lesson #2: hiking poles are very useful when trying to hop around wet muddy sections. I recommend them.

Along the way we caught a glimpse of the backside of the Towers. The far side of these towers (the two points on the left side) were our destination for Day 5:

Backside of Las Torres

Beautifully colored mountains:

Colored mountains


Aqua and me

Another night of soup and pasta over the camp stove, then off to bed ready to explore the valley the next morning. Also, note how light it stays. We had residual daylight until 10pm.

Sleep time