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…