If you travel to Torres del Paine there is a one day hike that you have to do. Reading about it kind of reminded me of Half Dome back home. Sure it'd be great to do the famous "W", but that just wasn't in the cards this time around with a 7, 4 and 2 year old. This is an all day hike and at the end of it, right above the base camp, you climb these huge boulders to see the picture above. No, I didn't take this shot. But once we saw this, we knew we had to try the hike. Even if there were 5 of us. We figured we would leave early, bring tons of snacks and plenty of water, and allow for a few extra hours. It would be by far the longest hike Kate and Jake had ever done. I was a little nervous.
We woke up to rain, which was a horrible sign. But when I looked out our window, I saw the rainbow. We had to try!!!
We saw a few amazing sites on our way to the trail head.
It was official. The rain had stopped and we decided to give the hike a go. We had no idea what to expect.
This bridge only had a max. capacity of 2 people! Makes you a little nervous!
And this was the trail we would be hiking.
It was quite the incline from the get go. Kate has proven herself as the total hiker. Jake...well, notsomuch. I thought he'd fall apart after 3 minutes into the climb. But Joe took him by the hand and they discussed the different projects they could do together and brainstormed this and that THE ENTIRE HIKE. (You'll soon find out that was about 8 hours worth of ideas). Incredible. Jake has now earned hiker status and then some. Those cute little legs...
We stopped at the half way point to have lunch, let Luke run around a bit, and let the kiddos rest their legs.
At this point they were tired but feeling pretty good!
Apparently we were heading into Region XII of the hike. We had crossed raging rivers with dangerous little "bridges"-- we had to hold the kids at their armpits for fear that if they'd slip, we'd lose them in the icy river--, we'd gone up and down switchbacks a few times, and we never saw another kid on the trail. In fact, everyone passing us cheered the kids on. They were the only little people anyone had seen all day. Someone said, "You must be Americans!" Yahoo! I was sooooo proud to be an American at that moment. "YES! WE ARE!"
Joe and I were thinking that if we could make it to the base camp, one of us could stay with the kids while the other climbed the boulders and vice versa. We knew they wouldn't be able to make it up to the top. But as the day went on, we both saw that vision turning darker and darker. We were just shy of the base camp and the kids started complaining. My feet were sore, so I couldn't imagine how their poor little bodies felt. And we still had to hike back!
So, we called it.
You would have too. Look at those poor faces. We were SO INCREDIBLY PROUD of our tough little hikers!
They managed a smile for us and we turned around and started back.
It's hard to turn away when your goal is so close you can taste it. Yes, we wanted to see the top.
But our family will never forget this day.
What our kids accomplished was far greater than anything else. I still can't believe that they made it as far as they did. They were INCREDIBLE!
See my finger? That's where we turned around. I have to admit, I did catch myself a few times singing that song, "so close...yet so far away..."
That last mile, both kids were in tears. Kate made it the entire way and Jake took a few breaks here and there.
The last stretch.
The last 50 feet of our hike we saw a fox hunting rabbits... the first real wildlife the entire trek!
It was an 8 hour day. We figured we hiked around 9 miles. Guess we'll have to come back some day to finish it off! So grateful we didn't get stuck in any horrendous weather. We threw everything in the car and headed back to our cabana.
Only to find a few more cool sites along the way :)
Right around here, a huge Puma jumped right out in front of our car! It was gone before I could grab my camera. We were completely stunned! What a way to end the day!!!! And I was really grateful we weren't sleeping in tents that night :)
Our cabanas were down in this valley.
Can't tell you how good it felt to crawl into bed that night!