Chile, Patagonia

Tips for Trekking Torres del Paine with an “Indoorsy” Spouse

March 16, 2012

Scale Model of Torres del Paine: Making 50 kilometers of trekking trails look deceptively simple.

My traveling sweetheart is self-proclaimed as “Indoorsy,” more at home in coffee shops and brew pubs than in swaths of nylon draped over steel poles and staked to damp earth.

After successfully wooing him into a grand five day, four night tent-camping adventure in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park, I had a tall order to fill in making the adventure worth the sacrifice.

Here are my best trekking tips for keeping his outdoor experience as comfortable as possible:
(Ha! Wink, wink. Ted, you are such a good sport!)

Pack a thermos for easy mid-morning hot beverages (note that open flames are no longer allowed in the park, and stoves may only be used at campsites). Wrapping hands around a steaming cup helps cheer even the tiredest of trekkers.

Pack an iPod full of This American Life and The Moth Story Hour podcasts for a touch of technological comfort in the tent after a long day’s hike. A little entertainment to distract the mind from trail-worn aches and pains goes a long way toward justifying electronics in the wilderness. (For more ideas, see Ayngelina’s list of podcast inspiration for travelers at Bacon is Magic.)

Pack trekking poles and gloves: Again, on repeat: pack gloves. The wind (a four letter word, possibly for a reason) will thrash exposed fingers, especially if they’re fiercely clinging to pole handles for balance and dear life…for hours each day.

Pack cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Foodies around the world agree, cheese elevates any meal to a higher level of enjoyment, especially when eating sans tables, plates, and shelter.

And lastly…promise craft beer at the end of the trail! Quality brew can fuel unthinkable feats of human accomplishment. Especially for the indoorsy types. Eat chocolate and drink red wine along the way, and sing siren songs of bubbling golden ales at the finish line.

Thankfully, we met a fantastic Chilean couple on the trail and they invited us to drinks at Baguales Micro-Cerveceria Artesanal once we returned to Puerto Natales.

Ian is a communications consultant focused on international development and Rocío is an architect with experience in community resource projects; we were so impressed with their kindness and excitement for life. They’ll be leaving Chile for the year while Ian completes his Masters work in London…and we’re still working on convincing them to pay a visit to Oregon on their way back home. (Darian, Bekah, Ryan, and Sara: They’d be a shoe-in for an honorary visit to the brew club…you’d love them!)

Proof that the packing tips helped: My happy camper, in good spirits at the end of the trail, making friends with the animals at Hotel Las Torres’ Torres del Paine exhibit…

What about you? Any favorite tips and tricks for making time in the wilderness comfortable?

This piece is fifth in a series following our boot tracks in Chilean Patagonia from Puerto Natales to the little known “μ” Trek at Torres del Paine National Park, through burned out beech forests, past color-charged lakes, up fantastical mountains, and into snug-as-a-bug sleeping bags in a cute little tent in the woods. Follow us on Twitter (@twoOregonians), like our Facebook page, and stay tuned for more photos and stories from the trail…

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  • Reply Heather Espana March 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

    When you figure out how to pack a bathtub, let me know and maybe Mike will go with me ;-).

    • Reply twoOregonians March 21, 2012 at 3:40 am

      Haha. Maybe an inflatable tub that doubles as an air mattress? : ) The nice thing about this trek was that the Refugios provided amazingly hot showers. Another very helpful luxury.

  • Reply Best travel articles — LandingStanding March 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

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  • Reply Tony March 17, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Such great tips! Love the bribe of craft beer at the end… that would definitely get me to do a lot of things I wouldn’t want to do! Also, when doesn’t packing good cheese make any trip better? Am I right?

    • Reply twoOregonians March 21, 2012 at 3:49 am

      Exaaaaactly. You know it.

  • Reply Stephanie - The Travel Chica March 18, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Cheese is an excellent idea.

    I decided after my horrible 5-day trek in Cabo Froward, that it would be worth the extra weight to carry a bottle of red wine as a small treat when you’ve had a tough day of hiking.

    • Reply twoOregonians March 21, 2012 at 3:53 am

      Absolutely agree on the extra weight. So worth it. Another trekker told us about how he was hardcore and didn’t like to bother carrying liquids. I guess we’re just hardcore lovers of life…can’t imagine passing up wine on the trail! We downsized a little by pouring the liquid into a Klean Kanteen water bottle and ditching the glass at the refugio.

  • Reply Kirsten March 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I absolutely admire Ted for doing this. If it’s not in one to do, it can be hard to push yourself. Bethany, I admire you for being the woman who is creative enough to make an experience extra special, who will go above and beyond. If I am ever married again, I truly aspire to be that kind of partner.

    Love the photos as always. And love the cheese and craft beer. Two of my favorite things. Add mountains … I wouldn’t have had to be convinced very much!

    • Reply twoOregonians March 21, 2012 at 3:58 am

      Thanks so much for that, Kirsten. I’m so grateful for Ted and his willingness to dive into a crazy adventure with me. I learn so much from his example of love.

      We’re working hard to offset the camping experience: a month of food and lazing around Buenos Aires, a stretch in Rio, and today we set sail on a luxury cruise line for a good half-month of sailing. Not sure what kinds of beer they have on board, but you can bet we’ll be going for the cheese at every opportunity… ; )

      See you in Italy!!

  • Reply Heather March 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I remember having a bbq with you guys at my parents last summer and a very funny conversation/discussion about Ted’s loathing of camping. This whole time, I have been wondering…how the heck did you get him to go along with this?! He must really really love you ;)

    • Reply twoOregonians March 21, 2012 at 4:02 am

      That’s the only way I can think to explain it! : ) He’s the best. (Though, I’m thinking he might…just maybe…be coming around to actually enjoying *certain aspects* of camping. We’ll try to put this hypothesis to the test sometime when we get home…maybe a camping trip out to Colorado?) xoxo

  • Reply Kim March 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    The promise of craft beer has seen me through man a daunting athletic endevor. Yay to Ted for pulling through.

    • Reply twoOregonians March 21, 2012 at 4:09 am

      And I’ve seen some of those daunting athletic endeavor posts! (Was it the Bend Marathon?? Maybe they should’ve made Deschutes Brewery the finish line?) Keep it up, rockstar! Conquer the world and enjoy the fitting rewards : )

  • Reply Anna March 22, 2012 at 1:48 am

    Ted, we have more in common than I knew…

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