Tag Archives: backpacking

Honeymoon Part 2 – Torres Del Paine Circuit

Good morning from another bus!

We left off with our bus ride to Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales is basically the gateway town to Torres del Paine National Park. It’s filled with backpackers and travelers.

It was Friday and we decided to start our trek Sunday so we’d have all day Saturday to prepare and rest. We wandered the town with our backpacks and suitcase in search of a hostel. We ended up staying at Hostel Geminis for two nights and it worked out great.

Friday we converted US dollars to Chilean Pesos and ate an amazing dinner at a little cafe that I need to look up the name later. We had ceviche, salmon, ravioli filled with salmon and a berry cake dessert. It was all delicious. While we were there a photographer was taking photos of the salmon for a magazine and they used the exact salmon we ate for one of the pictures! We need to find that magazine, we’re basically famous! Patagonia is known for its Salmon and Lamb.

After dinner we went to a local beer brewery and restaurant. I think it’s the only beer brewed in Puerto Natales. They had 2 options. A pale and an amber. We had tasters of them both and we both ended up drinking the amber.

Saturday we listened to a talk at Erratic Rock hostel about trekking in Torres del Paine. There are two trek options, the W-trek which has 3 out and back sections forming a W shape or the full circuit which includes the W but also wraps around the back side which they call an O. Initially we planned to do the W-trek for time purposes but they talked us into the whole thing.

The rest of Saturday was spent buying food and necessary supplies for the trip. It was tough preparing backpacking food in another country. We opted for lots of ramen for dinners, found salami and crackers for lunches, oatmeal and cereal for breakfast, and trail mix, cereal bars and peanut butter and dulce de leche (a thing in Patagonia) on pitas for snacks. We really missed Matt’s beef jerky!

As for supplies we forgot a good amount. Water bladders, duct tape, Todd’s chacos, etc. etc. We didn’t end up needing bladders because there was so much water on the trail. We didn’t have to carry any or a filter as you could drink straight from the streams which was amazing!

Saturday dinner and pre- trek carbo loading was pizza and beer! Much better pizza this time!

Sunday we took the 3 hour bus ride to the park and then the Catamaran boat ride to the start of our trek!

The next 6 days and 5 nights we were immersed in the Torres del Paine National Park soaking up all it had to offer. The sun came out at around 5:30 am and went down around 10:30 every night. We had lots of time for walking in the daylight. Because we opted to do the full circuit, we had to kick it in overdrive to get done in time. Typically they say to do the circuit in 8 or 9 days, we ended up with 6.

If you google ‘best treks’ in the world, Torres del Paine will come up. This meant, it was popular and crowded, especially in the W portion. The trail had options for sleeping in huts and eating meals at the huts or traditional camping cooking for yourself but you had to stay and pay for the campsites they had. Everything on the trail was expensive for the most part. Campsites were like $15 per person per night. If you stayed in the huts I think it was $50 per person or something close to that.

Being at the Southern tip of Chile, the weather was crazy! I have never experienced wind like we did in that park! The weather changes very quickly. It will rain every day but not very hard or for very long. We did come across one storm. During that storm we walked for hours in the rain with 50mph winds. I was knocked down at one point by a gust! We made it to camp soaking wet! But for the most part we lucked out with weather!

The trails were pretty well maintained for the most part and very easy to follow. You really didn’t need a map at all. We did come across mud, water crossings, rocky terrain and some dicey ladders and bridges which made it interesting. We have lots of pictures I will share when we get back and can upload them from the camera! We had one pass to navigate. The top was at 1200 meters. The one thing I think they could add to these trails was switchbacks! There were plenty of steep sections.

The scenery was unreal. We walked through fields of daisies, forests with moss covered trees, alongside glaciers and lakes and up and down mountains. It was nothing short of beautiful! My favorite views were the Torres at one of the W legs and then the view at the top of the pass looking out at Glacier Grey.

After 6 days of around 9 hrs of hiking, we were exhausted and my feet had seen better days.

Christmas Day was spent hiking the Gardner Pass, enjoying amazing views of the glacier and eating ramen and chatting with new friends. It was weird not to be with family. We missed you all and wish you were with us but we do know there will be many more holidays to come!

From now till the 31st, we will be in El Calafate and El Chalten. We will explore Glaciar National Park and Mt. Fitz Roy and do some trekking on the Perito Moreno glacier. Hiking will be minimal until these blisters heal! We splurged a little on a couple hotels as we are ready for a comfy bed and some honeymoon luxury!

Last night we both had massages and ate at La Zaina in El Calafate. We had some amazing braised lamb and a salmon salad capping the night with an ice cream cone that hit the spot.

Now we are off to El Chalten.

Hope all is well at home!

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Dr. Grand Canyon or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the blog

Hello blog readers! Todd here commandeering Tammy’s blog for one quick post. I recently took a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon, and decided that this would be a good way to share some details and pics from the trip. I was invited on this 5-day 4-night adventure by my brother Mark and his girlfriend Teresa. Also joining us was Mark’s roommate Sean, Teresa’s dad Tom, and longtime friend Matt (names have been changed to protect privacy).

We arrived at the Grand Canyon Sunday, with plans to get on the trail early Monday morning. Here’s out first look at the canyon.

We had a nice campfire, and ate a good campfire meal of steak, sausage, potatoes, and peppers, wrapped tightly in foil. We seasoned it with salt, pepper and beer. Very nice.

We went to bed on a cold but clear night and woke up to about an inch of snow.After packing, checking, and weighing our packs, we were ready to hit the trail.

Luckily there wasn’t any ice on the trail, so the going wasn’t too difficult. The difficult part was knowing that we were heading down below the snow line to reach…rain.

Mark and I taking a look at the path we are heading for.Mark was so focused on putting his right foot in front of his left foot that he nearly ran into a deer and his friends by the side of the path. The deer was nonplussed.

After reaching camp, Matt hiked an extra 6 miles down to the Colorado river to go fishing. The rest of us had dreams of trout as we awaited his return, but no such luck. We spent a cold night at Bright Angel campground, but luckily awoke to clear skies.

It was quite amazing to look up and see the snow we had come through. It was the Grand Canyon as I had never seen it before.

Here’s a purple cactus for Matt.The second day was our longest day, at just over 10 miles. There wasn’t a whole lot of elevation change, so we could maintain a pretty good pace. Our campground was only a mile and a half from the river, so Matt and I took off down a trail I remembered from my last trip to this campground, a.k.a. we walked down the creek.

The next one is me saying, “Did you get my hat in the frame?”

Matt and I watched the rapids for a while, hoping to see a boat come down the river, but one never did. The rapids were awesome, bigger than I remember them. Our next day our hike would only be about 4.5 miles, and the campground was right next to Hermit rapids, so we thought we might see a boat then. Here’s the beach and the rapids, no boat.The next day we didn’t have much of a hike, under 2 miles.

We spent the day swimming in a little pool with a waterfall, and lounging in the sun. We were resting in preparation for our hike out the next day, our last. It would be over 8 miles, with major elevation gain. I have painful memories of coming down this trail in previous trips, perhaps mostly because I hiked pretty much directly from an uncomfortable car seat. The good part of our fears was that it got us up right around sunrise, which in my opinion is the best part of the day in the GC.

Tried to capture what I could in a photograph.

Unfortunately I have no photos of the after hike celebration, but the times were good.

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Backcountry Snacks

Todd has now begun his backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. This will be his 3rd time.  Without me.  In the 9 years I’ve known him.  I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon.  Can you tell I’m a little bitter.. or jealous.. or both?

In his defense, this time I was actually invited!  So maybe I’m just jealous.

With New Zealand in the fall, I don’t have enough vacation time to take another 5 days off.  I hate it that I am sooo restricted by the amount of vacation my work thinks is enough.  One of my dreams is to be able to work from anywhere.  That way, I could spend months in New Zealand if I wanted!

Anyways, Todd is backpacking & I will try and get as much studying in as possible!  My test is less than a month away! It’s cramming time.  If you were wondering, I am taking the Civil PE CA specific Surveying test on April 9th.  I passed the other 3 portions of this test in the fall but I did not pass this part. Hopefully this will be the last time I have to study Surveying!

A couple years ago, we went backpacking in Yosemite for 5 nights and it was amazing.  I spent a good month planning & making our meals for this trip.  Instead of buying the pre-made dehydrated foods, I decided to make my own!  It was fun.. but a lot of work!  I dehydrated fruit, veggies, cooked pasta, couscous, beans, meat and even hummus!  I assembled all our meals in ziplocs that were ready for us to add boiling water to.  The only problem we had was that anything sharp in the bag would poke holes in the ziplocs & the hot water would leak out.  Next time I would need a special heavy duty bag that you cannot puncture.  It was a great learning experience!  I wish I had a blog back then so I can remember the recipes!

Todd will be eating Mountain House meals for dinner this trip which is no fun for me!  I needed wanted to be involved in this food planning process somehow so I told him I’d make snacks & bars!

First recipe I tried was Anne’s Granola Bars.  I actually ate one for a snack today.  They are pretty good I’d say!

Mix dry ingredients..

Then add the wet..

Combine the two..

And mix your little heart out! It’s not easy.. but keep going.. you can do it!  I’ll consider this my arm workout for the day.. wait, I don’t ever do arm workouts.. I should get on that.

Press into a parchment lined baking dish & put in refrigerator.  They will harden nicely in the fridge.  I let them defrost a little before actually cutting them as they were too hard to cut!

So good!

The next recipe I tried was the Fitnessista’s protein balls.  So simple to make & a great mid-hike snack.

She did mention putting chocolate in hers and I found that the chocolate chunks would not stick to the ball.  Maybe cocoa powder would be a great substitute!

The last thing I have been thinking about a lot are Cherry Vanilla Almond ‘Larabars’.  I don’t know where this flavor idea came from but I’m stuck on it.  First thing I needed to do was find vanilla bean paste.  That is not an easy task!

I finally found it at Whole Foods.  I try to stay away from Whole Foods for the most part (because it’s a little pricey) but this was a necessity (in my mind).

Whole foods has electronic price markers on all of their shelves! I don’t know if I’m just slow and this has been there awhile but I thought it was genius! Now they no longer need to manually change the price tag everytime a price changes.. once it’s updated in the computer system, it’s correct on the shelves as well! Why didn’t I think of this?

The other ingredients needed were dates, almonds & dried cherries.

I would not use these cherries next time.  I may wait until they are in season & dry my own.  Or maybe even use frozen ones?  These didn’t have a distinct cherry flavor.

Mix all ingredients.. I don’t remember my exact proportions to give you a recipe.  I know I used more almonds than cherries & dates & I used too much vanilla!  I think I was a little excited about it.. and the flavor came out even more once the flavors were able to ‘gel’ together.  I will play with this again when I can get some better cherries and then maybe share the recipe.

I added cocoa powder to half the batch to make Chocolate Cherry Vanilla Almond.. wow.. that’s a mouthful!

So fun, easy & messy!

Now it was time to assemble Todd’s food for the trip.  I gladly helped with this part as he was running around the house trying to pack last minute!

His breakfast will be a bar of some sort.  He has a variety.  Some Emergen-C & a couple gels for when he needs them.

Lunch is tuna or sardines on pre-portioned baggies of crackers.  If you buy those bags of tuna they are the perfect amount for one day & they are ok on weight too.  Little packets of mayo, mustard & relish to make tuna salad.

These are snack bags, one for each day.  In them is trail mix, dried fruit, beef jerky, and a protein ball.  You can carry this baggie in an easily accessible pocket & grab it whenever you are bored & need something to chew on or you need some extra energy!  They worked out great in Yosemite.

Dinners are Mountain House.  Costco had a 10 pack for sale for $39.99.  That is a great deal!

He called me this morning before they began their journey & there is lots of snow on the ground!  Makes me a little nervous but I know they’ve done this before so I’m sure they will be fine.

Can’t wait till it’s my turn again!  Can’t wait for New Zealand!  Still needs lots of suggestions.. we need to start booking stuff asap!

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