200m elevation change
With the toughest day behind us, we can now take it a bit more easy. It made me feel even better that we crossed the pass yesterday because it was a wet and windy day. I do feel bad for campers behind us who now have to endure the low visibility and tough weather. Today is the second longest day in terms of hiking distance, but with a much smaller elevation change.
The cool part about the next few kilometers are the hanging bridges that span deep valleys carved by rivers rushing down the mountain to the Grey glacier below. The peaceful empty walks are now over as we started to encountering “W” hikers coming from the other direction. Campamento Grey was like coming back to civilization, with the cozy lobby with fireplace in the refugio, and all the campers milling about. We had our lunch in the kitchen with many others hiding from the rain.
We got lucky again when we checked out the mirador with the icebergs because the rain stopped and visibility cleared up. When we left 30 minutes later the magic was gone and back to wet conditions again. The rest of the hike was a lot of up and down along the mountain ridges while listening to my audio Spanish lessons. As I got closer to Pehoe Lake, the winds really picked up. Luckily it was a tail wind and I could feel myself being propelled from the back.
When I arrived to the campsite for the night, I quickly knew that Paine Grande would be my favorite. The location was superb, right next to the turquoise blue Pehoe Lake and mountain. The campsite and refugio was the largest that I have seen so far. It was also the busiest as some people arrive by boat from the Pudeto entrance. Today is Ingrid’s birthday, I treated the both of us to a buffet dinner. We were there for the entire 3 hours from opening to close, enjoying the hot meal that did not come out of a pouch. I snuck some brownies out for snacking on the trail tomorrow.
The hot water in the camper showers were broken, so the refugio let everyone use the ones inside. While I was there, I saw the layout and was not super impressed. 6 bunkbeds to a room, each bed costs about $60/night. It is nice if you want to carry less gear or want to have a roof over your head at the end of the day, but not really worth it IMO since in the end you will be with other strangers. If you see it as a hostel experience I think it is fine, but dont expect a private room like a hotel.