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Trekking in Patagonia With Our Tour Leader Cade

When I hear the word “overlanding” uttered across a table of conversation,  thoughts of unpredictability, ruggedness and a very real sense of adventure are immediately triggered in my mind. In reaction to these thoughts I am then in-turn triggered by a rush of adrenaline and excitement. See, what I love about it is not only seeing amazing places and sharing them with people, but also the constant sense that no matter how prepared you are, you may never be ready for just what is waiting for you around the corner.

Torres Del Paine, Chile, oasis overlandIt was in Chile where we decided to leave the comfort of our big yellow Oasis Overland truck for a period of four days. Our aim was to hike the 86km trail known as “the W circuit” of Torres Del Paine, which meant we had to properly prepare. We were to remain totally self-sufficient in that we each carried all our food, clothes, tents and sleeping bags on our backs for the duration of our four days. There were to be no showers, no turning around and no bailing out. In fact, the only bailing we were to do was that of our drinking water which we obtained from the many streams that ran direct from the glaciers and down the mountains; their minerals so alive that they hopped along our taste-buds with every sip.

 The weather typical of the Patagonian region, varied from crystal clear skies to dark, grey blankets of clouds. The winds howled like a dog on heat, sending the rain flying horizontally through the valleys and directly onto our cheeks like needles into a cushion. The blisters swelled under the weight of our over-sized hired boots while our backs struggled under the weight of our over-packed backpacks.

 When it all became too much, a casual nanna-nap on the side of the trail was in order until such time as we were awoken by the clopping hooves of passing horses. We sang along the trails and danced atop lookouts. The golden Autumn glow of the forest lifted our spirits and tickled our peripherals while the granite pillars towering some 2000 metres above us served as a constant reminder that “we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.”

 Our social skills increased dramatically by the second day when some of us discovered that talking to other hikers on the trail and sharing a laugh often resulted in them sharing with us their food. This, we morally justified to our selves, is a primitive survival technique that has long since been embedded in our DNA. By day three a simple bar of chocolate was a best-kept secret and by day four the cloud of odour that had omitted from the pores of our skin now hovered behind us and followed like a loyal Alsatian.

On completion of the trek and on returning to camp any burden of aching muscles was eliminated by our sense of achievement and our Colgate smiles that spanned the width of our faces. But like I said, no matter how much you prepare yourself, you are never quite ready for just what’s around the corner.

 It was on our arrival back to camp that John notified us that we had one hour to shower and prepare for the first ever annual Oasis truck Olympics – Attendance compulsory. So within the hour we were to drink Johns punch in the opening ceremony before competing in events that saw milk and tomato paste flying around and had us being passed over the heads of our team mates. All the while coming up with new and exciting ways of tripping each other over at every opportunity in order to cheat our way to victory.

 

 Like most of us I too traded the highly anticipated hot shower for a cold cup of punch. I watched the carnage of the Truck Olympics unfold before my eyes. I listened to the laughter and watched the spirits of the group soar while the  morality and sportsmanship hilariously hit an all-time low. I reached over and carved myself a slice off the Patagonian lamb on the spit that I was cooking for our dinner. I felt it immediately melt atop my tongue. I nodded satisfyingly, smiled, chuckled and thought to myself that Mumma Gump was right “Overlanding is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” oasis overland olypics

Posted in All Blogs, South America.


2 Responses

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  1. Adam Sutcliffe says

    Returning to the truck olympics was one of the best days on the trip – just what was needed after 3 tough days in the wilderness!
    Cade is a legend!!!!

  2. Juan Pablo says

    Great post,
    Just a little contribution to the readers.
    If you are intending to go to trek in Patagonia.
    I suggest to take a look to http://www.wikiexplora.com a website dedicated to document trekking routes made by chilenos.
    Good luck and enjoy Chile



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