Up at 05:15 and on the trail for 05:45 to see the Torres by dawn. This takes a lot of motivation on your own I can tell you! In the second half of the climb I decide to do without torchlight. I loose the red spray painted dots on the rocks that mark the trail but I figure as long as I climb up I can't go far wrong. Then, the Torres present themselves as I reach the top of the ridge for 06:30. Fantastic! It was a hard slog but I made it! Only there's nobody there. Unusual, I'm not usually the first person to a viewpoint. So I walk on for 15 minutes to the end of the ridge, navigating strong winds and near vertical drops expecting to happen upon some people. But still, nobody there. Oh well, I walk back to take some photos of dawn over the valley horizon. It's only as I start my decent that I notice groups of people hanging about some distance below. Arr, that would be the official viewpoint I overshot then! So I descend on to the onlookers from above, much to their confusion. "Where have you come from?" quiz one couple. "Wales!" I cheerfully respond!
Back at camp I need a new strategy to packing my rucksack - I'll be picking up more food later and currently it won't all fit in. So I externalise my twin dry bags and stuff the tent in the main pack. Enter Twin Torpedo Subsonic Rocket Man Stevie! My pack now looks cool, so different to anybody elses. I feel like an Action Hero! I keep yanking the dangling straps behind my back expecting the Nitro Boosters to kick in and propel me up the hill. They don't but I keep yanking anyway, just in case! I find my new twin turbo packs distribute the weight a lot better. The pack feels lighter and I power down the hill.
I'm pleased to note that despite being days into my trip and trekking under load I'm still mighty cool and looking super sexy! (See inset.)
I coin a phrase - Day Walkers (stolen from Blade) and I loathe them. They're people on a day trip to see the towers, bounding up the hill with nothing but a day pack or a water bottle, complaining about the lack of facilities the mountain has to offer and marvelling at how the weather is always gorgeous in the park. I just want to drop my 20 Kg pack on their heads and kick them in the river to simulate spending all day in the rain. We'll see how well they cope then! Worse still are the Day Walkers with trekking poles, striding on superiority because they're faster! Grrr... I hate them all!
Down at Las Torres I get annoyed, tired and angry that the Refugio is a long way away from the main complex and isn't signposted. Grrr... Anyway Rosie and Matt are there, waiting for the bus. They've just finished the W trek. Matt saw the towers last night and also went the wrong way up the ridge! In the Refugio reception I show the man a photo of my food cache (box) and he retrieves it for me. Result! I grace the AMA charity with 4,000 pesos (£4) for keeping it for me and wonder how I'm going to pack the extra 6 Kg!
A sparkly clean, whiter than white, fresh American couple in reception were horrified to receive their first experience of a foreign country outside of a 5 star hotel. "What!? There's only one connecting boat across the lake a day? We can leave our bags but there's no-one to take responsibility for theft whilst we're out walking? And what do you mean you won't or can't tell us what the weather is going to be like for the next few days?" They look at me and seem horrified. I look homeless. I smell. The receptionist laughs - I'm their typical customer.
The original plan was to stay at Las Torres for the night and consume the 2 bottles of Pale Ale and the ¼ bottle of 12 year Chevas Regal whiskey. But it's only 14:00 and in only 4 hours I could be at the next camp site, fitting 2 days worth of walking into 1! Hmm... I load up, decanting the whiskey into a plastic bottle. I'm carrying the heaviest rucksack ever - I can barely lift it on to my back! Still, come 14:30 I set off in good spirits amidst the sun shine. Come 15:00 it rains again! Great.
I have a good stride until the last hour where my shoulders really being to ache. Damn the pack is bleeding heavy. I've started the un-popular trek round the back of the circuit and there's a noticeable lack of people. In fact, the only people I see are a Polish couple who overtake me 10 minutes before reaching the camp site. It's cold, wet, muddy and it's only the thought of a hot shower, a warm shelter and XXX that keep me going. I arrive. The camp site is closed. No facilities, no shower and no shelter. The Poles are just happy they don't have to pay the camping fee! Then they start slapping themselves in some bizarre Bavarian dance cum Monty Python sketch. I found it quite amusing for a whole 2 minutes until I too was set upon by the hordes of mosquitoes! 1000s and 1000s of them! If I kept my hand still for just a couple seconds, 3 would descend upon it and start sucking up blood. We both set up home as fast we could and dived inside our respective tents. I had reason to believe the camp site wasn't closed but the owners had been eaten alive by mosquitoes and their corpses were still decomposing inside! I drink my beer and count the number of mosquitoes clamouring to get in through the mesh on the tent door. It averaged 8 per square foot.
Posted by Steve Eynon