1. Even the bus ride to the park will take your breath away.
2. Man doesn’t live on bread alone. He actually lives on powdered packet food.
3. People who work in the park smile. All the time.
4. You can walk over 100km and somehow every step is better than the last.
5. Everyone drinks from the river. No-one gets sick.
6. You get to wear the same clothes for over a week. It’s liberating.
7. There is always wine available when you need it the most.
8. Glaciers are the best natural phenomenon ever. Fact.
9. Make-up doesn’t exist. Which means smudged eye liner and mascara gloop don’t either.
10. “Where are you sleeping tonight?” is not a loaded question.
11. Wild foxes and birds are strangely tame. They know backpackers don’t bite.
12. A jar of peanut butter brings instant stardom.
13. Cooking is not cooking – it’s boiling water and stirring.
14. Everyone has a hat with plaits. Yes, it’s chic.
15. It’s okay to boast about the rare days when you’ve changed your underwear.
16. There’s always a handy log for when your legs throw a wobbly.
17. The Dried Fruit Guy in Puerto Natales is worth his weight in gold.
18. It’s okay to obsessively weigh your backpack before you leave.
19. And it’s perfectly acceptable to take the same photograph 37 times.
20. Seeing the sunrise turning the Towers pink might just be proof of God.
21. It’s okay to have backpack envy when you spot someone on a day trip.
22. No-one else remembered to bring a razor either.
23. If you’re lucky, you can swap a quick bachata class for some garlic and a pinch of salt.
24. You will become so used to that walking pole you’ll be lost in civilisation without it.
25. You know you’re hardcore when you brush the ice from your backpack.
26. Everyone knows you need two alarms. There’s the one that wakes you up and the second, half an hour later, which means it really is time to get out of your sleeping bag.
27. No-one can tell you what’s at the top of that mountain pass. But it will blow your mind.
28. “Shall we stop and have some nuts?” really means “I’m shattered. How far is it to camp?”
29. Everyone gets ‘hip rub’. It’s probably better than destroying your back and shoulders.
30. No backpack is complete without an emergency chocolate stash.
31. Who knew you could rescue a burned pot with just two leaves and a twig?
32. No-one enjoys stumbling up to the Torres at 5.30am. But it has to be done.
33. If there are 47 different shades of blue in the world, TDP exhibits all of them.
34. Only really cool people get to climb down the ladders.
35. There’s very little that cannot be achieved with a simple tablespoon.
36. Stuff the 3-second rule. Everything is covered in dirt and dust anyway.
37. It’s not weird to gesture to a tree stump and say “Is anyone sitting here?”
38. A down sleeping bag is worth the pain of the extra weight.
39. It’s not embarrassing to spend the whole day limping when you get home.
40. There’s also no shame in walking an extra two hours just to reach a camp with wine.
41. People walking the five-day ‘W’ hike secretly wish they were doing what you’re doing.
42. Trying to eat as many calories as possible is a rare but liberating feeling.
43. “Can you feel your toes yet?” becomes just another routine question.
44. Your legs and bum will look so hot when you’ve finished. Take some photos.
45. Only you can pinpoint the precise location of everything in your backpack.
46. Washing up is wonderful. It takes less than 60 seconds.
47. The backpack-free French Valley feels like a stroll in the park.
48. For once foreigners don’t steal the show – Chileans love TDP too.
49. It’s okay to skip cleaning your teeth, strictly on account of the cold.
50. Being the first people to leave camp makes you feel super-organised.
51. Go at the right time and you can watch late summer blaze into autumn.
52. Drinking water from a glacier is every celebrity’s wet dream.
53. Somehow all of the scenery looks like someone painted it.
54. You learn very early how to spot the rogue twig or the rock that will ruin your night.
55. Head torches are a party all by themselves.
56. Adrenaline makes you hyper. It really should come with a health warning.
57. You never need to decide what shoes to wear.
58. Stuffing your clothes in your sleeping bag keeps your morning wardrobe warm.
59. Baby wipes are the world’s most versatile invention.
60. Hike-based humour is always funny.
61. There’s never a bad hair day when you live beneath a purple woolly hat.
62. Pulling on that backpack just becomes the thing you do.
63. Sleeping three in a tent is more fun on a slope.
64. You’re not the only one who has to count to three before standing up.
65. Somehow there’s a surprise at the top of every climb.
66. You will find yourself getting excited about your daily fix of powdered juice.
67. It’s okay to go to bed at 8.30pm.
68. Everyone has a different theory about how forest fires begin and everyone is terrified of starting one.
69. Finding a beautiful spot to have lunch takes six minutes, on average.
70. Food never goes bad when you sleep in a fridge.
71. You won’t be the only one who confuses the sound of a melting glacier with thunder.
72. By Day Five you’ll have learned how to jog up hills – and stride in freefall down them.
73. A game of Twenty Questions can get you through anything.
74. Embrace the fact your hands cracked open in the cold. It means you’re a survivor.
75. Don’t worry, everyone else is high on life too.
76. Studying the map becomes an acceptable obsession.
77. Everyone wants to stop and let you past. It’s not politeness, it’s a cheeky breather.
78. Your skin will never again feel so smooth, nor your cheeks so rosy.
79. Tripping over a tent peg is always funny. Even when it’s the 67th time.
80. It’s annoying, but you can’t put your camera away for a second.
81. Glacier Grey is really just the ass end of Perito Moreno. How mind boggling is that?
82. If you’re lucky, you’ll never need that raincoat – nor those new waterproof trousers.
83. Just when you want to give up, the park will send you a magical ‘One Hour to Go’ sign.
84. A friend will always get something out of your pack for you. We all know the pain of taking that damn thing off – and having to hoist it on again.
85. The moment you realise you’ve strayed from the trail, it will suddenly reappear.
86. How do roll mats end up being so comfortable?
87. You will lose the ability to smell your own feet… and other people’s.
88. It’s okay to fantasise about what you’ll eat when you’re done.
89. No-one else can remember the bus times either.
90. Experiencing more than three flavours in one meal makes you feel like a King.
91. Make friends with porters. They’ll always steal fruit for you. And chocolate.
92. You see the same people every day for a week, yet still only refer to them by nationality.
93. Agreeing to carry a piece of someone else’s rubbish officially makes you a saint.
94. No-one thinks it strange to see you dancing in pain over the coldness of your fingers.
95. In fact, you would sell your own grandmother before giving away your gloves.
96. Other people will worry more about your blisters than you do.
97. You will say “That is so ridiculous, how is it so beautiful?” at least 13 times. Every day.
98. It’s okay to discuss, incessantly, the exact rationing of your food.
99. Of course you haven’t forgotten anything. Your whole life is in that bag.
100. If you make it through, you definitely deserve a second slice of cake.
101. You just spent eight days in the most beautiful place in the world. Exactly how lucky does that make you?
So true! I especially agree with 67 – As soon as I got back and ate after the trek up to Las Torres I fell asleep for about 11 hours!
And number 19 – I had a serious task ahead of me when I got back, I’d taken so many photos of the same thing, all of which were similar but had slightly different lights, that I couldn’t decide which one I liked better. So I still have hundreds of photos of the same view, just couldn’t bring myself to delete them.
Anyway, it sounds like you had a really exciting time! Hope the weather was good for you..
Our weather was beyond belief, barely a cloud in the sky. But then I met a friend who’d hiked through pouring rain and could hardly count the rainbows she saw, so I think there is always a silver lining!
Glad you liked the piece!