Day 3 was a big day – we hiked up the “middle” of the W, back down it, and over to Los Cuernos refugio area. A big blessing for this day: since you backtrack a large part of the day’s hike, you don’t have to take your big pack! The day’s hike is a lot of UP, so it was wonderful to just carry the basics.
The area we hiked up through is called the Valle de Frances, or the French Valley. Also, this was Christmas Eve! Here are a few pictures of our views on the way and from the high point of the valley.
We headed down the Valle de Frances and picked up our bags at Campamento Italiano. It turned out to be quite hot by this time in the day, which was all the more noticeable because of the beautiful lake we could see so far below us. It seemed so much lower that we figured there was no way we’d ever drop that much. We were wrong! To our surprise, the trail all of a sudden spit us out on to a beautiful rocky beach. Joel couldn’t help but run into the frigid waters.
Shortly after leaving the beach, we arrived at the Cuernos refugio area. This was one that we heard had bed bugs, so we were happy to stay in our cozy tent. Here are pics of our tent location and view out of the top!
Before we left for the park, the entire town of Puerto Natales lost its internet connection, which means no ATMs. We were pretty sad about this, as we knew it would leave us without enough money to buy our hoped-for Christmas Eve dinner at the Cuernos refugio. When we arrived, we couldn’t believe it–this refugio in the middle of nowhere, which has its supplies brought in by horse, somehow had a credit card terminal! Thus, we got our wonderful, pricey Christmas dinner! (Duly noted that our standards are pretty low when backpacking)