Towers of Paine, Chile in winter

Guardian:

Patagonia off season: winter hiking in Torres del Paine

Tourists flock to the Torres del Paine in the southern summer, but our writer finds hiking there in winter brings a different set of snowy rewards

Andrew Gilchrist:

It’s minus five outside. Not great conditions for roughing it. The previous night, in an unheated, near-deserted refuge covered in snow, we had bedded down in extreme-weather sleeping bags, complete with hoods. But tonight, after a thrilling 20-mile hike through some of the finest scenery on the planet, we are warm, dry and, frankly, ecstatic beneath polar blankets in a chic ecodome that feels more penthouse than campsite. Steam rises from our boots as they dry by the log-burning stove and, through the round windows in the curved ceiling, I can pick out what seems like every star in the southern sky.

“This is sublime,” I think, as I ease myself off my furry headboard and pour another glass of velvety Chilean red. “Where is everyone?” …

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Southern Patagonia

Check our Paine Circuit information page.

bridges built of tree roots

Do you know where the most sustainable foot bridges are? No, not in Germany, Costa Rica or the Nordic states, which are the greenest countries according to the GGEI (Global Green Economy Index) 2014, but in the Meghalaya state of northeastern India. We’ll tell you why.

These suspension bridges are built with a form of tree shaping, and have a lifespan of 500-600 years.

The handmade footways are made from the roots of Ficus elastica trees, grown through betel tree trunks. …

The Khasis still grow new bridges, so when the old ones are vanishing, there will be another spectacular and vivacious footways to get across in the next centuries.

The Place Where Bridges Are Grown Instead of Built

organic footbridge

carrying furniture on the PCT?

Kolby Kirk is quoted. So this must be true. :-)

… due to the recent success of the book and movie “Wild”, many hikers have expressed fears that the trail will become overcrowded with Oprah Winfrey fans wearing enormous backpacks and ill-fitting boots with red shoelaces. …

The 2014 hiking season saw a dramatic rise not only in the number of hikers on the PCT, but also in the number of hikers apparently carrying large pieces of furniture.

“There was a couch at Scissors Crossing, and another one outside of Big Bear,” said Renee “SheRa” Patrick, “I can only imagine that they were carried there by hikers and abandoned when they realized that couches are too heavy for a thru-hike. I mean, a section hike, sure. Maybe somewhere in Oregon. But in the desert? It’s crazy.” …

“Wild” Debates About PCT Overcrowding (Part One)

recliner PCT

Fitz Roy vs. Torres del Paine

Of the two best hikes in Patagonia, which should you trek?

… you can’t decide between El Chalten (Argentina) and Torres del Paine (Chile), the self-proclaimed “trekking capitals” of their respective countries …

The good news is you can’t go wrong. Both options provide incredible access to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you’ll ever see.

We can’t really recommend one over the other purely based on natural beauty as they are both equally stunning national parks. However, there are definitely distinct differences between the two trekking meccas that may push you toward one or the other. Here are some things to think about based on our experience in both locations that will help you decide (although the best decision is to do both!)

The Best Trekking in Patagonia – El Chalten vs. Torres del Paine

Laguna de los Tres, El Chalten

Laguna de los Tres, El Chalten

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

Do both. With a sidetrip to the Perito Moreno Glacier.

perito-moreno-glacier

High Coast Trail, Sweden

The High Coast (Swedish: Höga kusten) is a part of the coast of Sweden on the Gulf of Bothnia

… since the last ice age the land has risen 800m, which accounts for the unusual landscape with tall cliff formations. The High Coast is part of the Swedish/Finnish High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago world heritage site (the High Coast was extended with Finnish Kvarken areas in 2006). …

The Höga Kustenleden is a 128 kilometer long trail along the High Coast. …

Hiking in Finland has a superb trip report of a late Autumn adventure:

The scenic trail passes through villages & towns, along the coast, through the forest and a beautiful National Park and if you have a free week makes for a great walk along the Swedish coastal hills. …

Högakustenleden – the High Coast Trail

16237534596_140c3a9356_b

Beautiful photos. :-)

Click PLAY or watch a 3min clip taken during milder weather on YouTube.