Before we dive into the incredible post about Patagonia that will make every reader want to pack a backpack and book a ticket to be on their way, we want to share about the author for a second. Michelle is a creatively skilled photographer and adventurer. She takes the time to explore the outdoors with no hesitation of her destination. Her desire to adventure into new territory is inspiring and we are honored to share her story with you. Michelle created a travel guide on Patagonia, Chile from her time there, but also some travel tips for beginners who love to backpack and camp while enjoying the outdoors. We have broken this piece into two parts. So enjoy this first part of her journey to this beautiful land and for those of you who are interested in some travel tips, keep your eye out, jot down some of her helpful go-to's in her part 2 piece that will be released next week.
Patagonia, Chile - Torres Del Paine National Park
(rawclayphoto.com / @trainsandplanes)
To kick start 2016, I backpacked my way through Patagonia with two friends and 8 other people I met on New Years Day. And to be honest, I never would have thought I’d say those words in my life. For one, I never backpacked before now. Two, I didn’t know anything substantial about Patagonia. Three, I had never camped longer than a couple days, and four, I never thought I’d logistically be able to go on such an extended adventure. But as I approached the end of college, I felt a pull to step outside my incubator of productivity. Even though the pressure to establish myself post-grad was breathing down my neck, I gave myself permission to just go off-grid and do something wild: hike the W Trail in Torres del Paine National Park.
I’ve travelled all over the world, but this was the first time I learned the true meaning of sustainable and responsible adventuring—a lesson that I’m convinced everyone should experience. This wondrous landscape physically and mentally challenged me further than I thought I could ever go. The experience silenced my ego and reminded me that there’s no one to impress out in the wilderness. It’s out there to impress you.
Patagonia is a massive region, across both Chile and Argentina, and the 50 miles we hiked on the W was only a fraction of it. Yet even in those 50 miles, we got to experience an entire spectrum of nature’s personalities. It was summer in Patagonia, but the weather was constantly fluctuating so that it might be frighteningly windy one day, or bright and still on another. We had to be prepared for everything.
One of the most enriching aspects of backpacking Patagonia was an unexpected sense of community on the trail. We brushed shoulders with people backpacking from all over the world, and at each campsite I could spark up a conversation with just about anyone. We were out there completely unplugged, unpolished, and truly facing the elements together. Over the course of the next five days, we trekked through meadows, valleys, forests, glacial rivers, mountains, and kayaked into electric blue icebergs. The beauty was cinematic, making the hours of physical exertion well worth it. I was reawakening the full extent of all my senses, senses that become lazy in city life when living off convenience, limitless options, and wifi. I was learning constantly, and it was shockingly refreshing to have life scaled down to just water, shelter, and a rewarding hot meal every night.
So for any reader who falls into a similar category of being a first time backpacker like me, or is hesitant to try, I write this to you. YES, you can and should do it. I even challenge you to partner with an organization and give back to the local community you travel to as part of your adventure. It doesn’t have to be a grand escapade hundreds of miles away, just start with some thoughtful research, corral some friends, and get out there.
For the dreamer - For the adventure