Lots of people said they wanted to hear about my trip, so I figured I would put it in a separate thread.
Background: I went on a trip with my sister to the Chilean side of Patagonia for the last 2 weeks of March. The purpose of the trip was to take a 9-day trek around Torres Del Paine National Park.
So the trip was fantastic. The park is gorgeous, with the scenery changing every few miles. Lakes, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows, rivers.
The hike itself was quite strenuous, mentally and physically, going over 2 extremely windy mountain passes, climbing up and down rickety ladders attached to canyon walls, going over bouncy suspension bridges, picking your way across rocks through roaring rivers. It wasn't just me finding it strenuous, it was listed as a 5 out of 5 on the excursion company's scale and advertised as extremely difficult, only do this if you are already in top hiking shape, don't do this as a means to lose weight.
We covered close to 80 miles in 6 continuous days of hiking. We did 18 miles the first day, 8 miles the second, and then 12 - 15 miles on each of the remaining days. My only complaint about the trip is that the distances were so great that we were always going full speed ahead; there wasn't really enough time to relax along the way, enjoy the scenery, take photos, pee. Sure, there was some, but not as much as I would prefer. I think if the trek were 8 days of hiking rather than 6, it would have been a better pace for me. I didn't go on the final 7th day of hiking (day hike from our base camp) because the weather and locale was so gorgeous, I really just wanted to sit in the sun, read my book, and drink tea -- rather than hike another 14 miles. I had a lovely day.
The food was plentiful and good. Pisco sours (local cocktail) and Chilean wine every night, along with cheese, olives, and prosciutto appetizers, and a hearty dinner. Lunch was make-your-own sandwiches -- mine was usually some sort of avocado and cheese combo. Breakfast was unremarkable; I don't even remember LOL. Oh, yeah. Dry cereal, yogurt, cheese.
The water running from streams along the route was all potable. We just placed our water bottles under a waterfall and filled up. It tasted marvelous! Apparently, 70% of the world's water comes from the glaciers in this area. Talk about drinking from the source! We stayed in 2-man tents most nights in varying conditions -- driving wind one night, pouring rain another, clear skies on yet others.
The weather was mixed. We hiked over a cliff-edge mountain pass during hurricane-force winds and rain, which was actually pretty dangerous. The wind was in our face, which meant the rain was pelting us like it was rocks, and we could barely see. Luckily a young, strong porter held my arm and escorted me across so I wouldn't blow off the edge! We also trekked through deep mud, rain, and beautiful clear sun. Some trails were scrambling across boulders, others were well-trodden dirt paths. Lots of wind along the way.
Anyway, I think that covers the highlights. We were a group of 6 hikers, led by 2 guides, bringing along 2 cooks and 3 porters to make the food, carry the gear, and set up the tents.
As many of you know, I started this weight loss journey on my 47th birthday, after having had 3 surgeries (totally unrelated to weight) over the prior 2 years and gaining 50 pounds. The last surgery was March 2012 and was major -- 3 surgeons, 10 hours, difficult recovery. During the recovery, with my 47th birthday looming on horizon, I decided enough was enough, I wanted to regain my fitness and lose the weight. I was motivated by the idea of looking back on my 48th birthday and being able to say, "47 was the year I turned things around".
My 48th birthday is in 13 days. I think I'll be able to say it.