The W-Trek, Francés to Lake Pehoé and beyond

Having slept well we were more than ready for breakfast. We quickly grabbed our gear and headed off. We knew we could cover the two kilometres back to Camp Italiano in about half an hour, based on the previous day but we weren’t sure how long the 7.5kms from there to Paine Grande would take us. Our map guide suggested about two and a half hours. This left us wondering whether to push ourselves to try for the 11:35 catamaran or go slower and take the 14:35 catamaran. You may wonder why we would do that in the first place, why not stay at Paine Grande lodge? The reason was our inability to get the unresponsive people at Vertice Patagonia to accept our booking online. Anyhow enough griping. We set off and made it to the bridge at Camp Italiano by about 8:50.When we saw the view up to the mountains and glaciers in Francés Valley we thought how lucky had we been the previous day.Our luck was short lived. Pretty soon the trail was a muddy, slushy one.Things only worsened when it began to rain so on went our wet weather gear and our pack covers. This meant putting our daypacks on our front as we couldn’t leave them attached to the main pack if we wanted the waterproof covers on. The next hour was a real slog. However as the weather cleared Lake Pehoé came into view, as did another trekker on a boardwalk below us.We quickened our pace and twenty minutes later we were nearer to the edge of lake on the boardwalk.At the same time as we pushed our pace we also kept an eye on the lake to see if the catamaran was coming. As the time approached 11:00 we saw it. Bugger! We still had about 800 metres to go. We kept going past the lodge.It looked really good. What a shame we weren’t staying there. Anyhow by this point we could see passengers disembarking the catamaran and a long queue waiting to board. That was good sign. We had made it in time for the 11:30 trip back across Lake Pehoé.

Once on board we paid our $25 – pretty steep but it’s the only way, without trekking all the way back. It moved really fast but not too fast that we couldn’t enjoy the views as we went.On arriving at Pudeto we checked out the fleet of buses from the various companies. Sadly they were all heading back out of Torres del Paine to Puerto Fatales. To catch a bus going the other way to the hotel we had booked on Lake Pehoé we would be stuck for about five hours. So much as we were pretty tired we figured we would keep walking. A few cars came along but they were all full so we couldn’t even hitch a lift. The weather was gloomy so we kept going.Twenty minutes later we had our first view of Hosteria Pehoé.You can see that sadly for us there was yet another hill to climb. However we were slowly coming closer to our destination.By now a rest and a drink break was in order. This view made it worth it.We continued on, finally arriving after walking just over an hour, adding a further five kilometres to the distance walked that day. We checked in, ate lunch in our room, took a shower and rested. Later in the afternoon we strolled around the property taking in the lake and spectacular mountain views.We had certainly earnt our pre dinner drinks.We also enjoyed dinner in their restaurant with fading mountain views as darkness set in. Once we lay down that night in our comfortable beds I don’t remember a thing until the next morning. Probably had something to do with walking 14.5 kilometres over varying conditions that day.

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