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When Trekking in Patagonia, Chile, Wear Yellow

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Long ago (and oh so far away), when Justin and I were first making our plans to become long-term travelers, we envisioned beginning our new lives in South America–specifically, in Chile.  Ultimately, we decided to explore Southeast Asia first, but when we heard that Hillary’s brother, Miles, was planning his own Chilean voyage, we jumped at the chance to offer a short preview of the beauty and adventure that Chile has to offer its visitors.  Here’s his scoop…

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself, and about why you chose to travel to Chile.

Hello, I’m Miles. By day, I’m the owner of Reduction Ready–a company which creates all-natural wine and balsamic reductions that deliver instant flavor infusions to all types of meals. I’m also an auto journalist. I love to travel, workout, and get out of my comfort zone. When I considered which travel destinations could offer me the sort of outdoor adventure I was craving, Chile really stood out.  

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Where did you go in Chile?

Most of my time in Chile was spent in Torres Del Paine National Park (part of Patagonia).

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Patagonia is one of the harshest environments in the world, as well as one of the most beautiful. I had not been to South America before, and wanted my first visit to allow me to experience a drastically different landscape. I also didn’t want to be driven around in a van to see all of the sights along the “W,” so I chose a trekking circuit adventure.

Patagonia_Miles-13

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

What did you do in Patagonia? 

I signed up for a 9-Day trek circuit with Cascada Expediciones. This hike took me from the central camp next to Refugio Las Torres to Camp Dickson, Los Perros, Grey Glacier, Paine Grande, Valle del Frances, Cuernos del Paine, and Las Torres (3).

Patagonia_Miles-12

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

In total, we traveled over 90 miles (150km), staying at campsites along the way. My group was made up of 4 other trekkers, plus our guide.

Patagonia_Miles-11

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

 I chose to travel with Cascada because of its dedication to having a limited impact on the natural environment, its employment of locals to Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales (the nearest towns), and its outstanding reviews.

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

 

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

What were your favorite moments?

I had two “favorite moments” on this trip.  I was fortunate enough to connect with one of the locals near Camp Dickson and bond over love of cars, getting our hands dirty, and a general outlook on life. While in Dickson, we walked together around the camp (which was massive), skipped stones in the emerald Rio de los Perros, and laughed for hours with the help of boxed wine from the Refugio’s reserves. It was incredible to connect so well with someone so quickly when our backgrounds were so different.

 My second favorite moment occurred during my stay at Cuernos del Peine. With a view of the Lago Nordenskj and the surrounding mountains, I’ve never been so floored by natural beauty. This image will stay with me forever.  

Patagonia_Miles-14

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

What was the biggest challenge you encountered?

The first challenge was my limited experience with the Spanish language. Interestingly, the only trouble this gave me was during my travel to and from the Torres del Paine campsite at the start and conclusion of my trip. In the airports and in the town of Punta Arenas, sometimes there were miscommunications. However, when I was on my trek, at each campsite, I either was able to get by with my limited Spanish or there was an English speaker to help.

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

The second challenge was the actual circuit. Despite being in great physical shape, I did not train for long distance trekking before this trip. 90 miles in 7 days (discounting the day on either end for travel to and from the Refugio Las Torres) is quite a distance through what can barely be called “trails.”  Factor in high altitude, dealing with many elevation changes, and enduring about 10 different types of weather and it was pretty tough-going.

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Would you recommend Patagonia and the Torres National Park to other travelers?

I would definitely recommend visiting this amazing locale.  You don’t have to be up for a strenuous trek to love Patagonia and the Torres National Park. The gorgeous scenery, diverse plant and animal life, and awe-inspiring weather changes are worth the trip. Because the National park is government-protected land, the laws about leaving the environment as you found it mean the land is richly preserved.

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Photo used with permission by Miles Branman, Edited by Justin Baird

Any final tips?

Final tips? Hmm. Ok, here’s one: if you’re lost in a blizzard and need to be rescued, be sure you’re wearing yellow. I’m joking, of course (they’ll never find you anyway).

 

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