- Pelin Asfuroglu
Chacabuco Range, an Unexpected Alpine dream in Patagonia
Chacabuco Mountain Range, which is located on the South West of Torres del Paine National Park, is one of the least known and least visited areas in the region. Another words, it is a true off the beaten trail. Chacabuco range, which borders the Serrano River and the Last Hope Sound, consists of several mountains whose height change between 3000 to 5000 feet.
Thanks to the Ultra Fiord Trail Running race, during the past few years several new trails have been made through thick bushes and a dense forest that give an access to these amazing mountains.
We were planning to make a scouting trip to Chacabuco Range since some time. Having a non-busy season due to the pandemic finally gave us the opportunity to make this long postponed trip happen. It was also a 36th birthday gift to myself.
I was quite curious about this area since I have wandered around the lower part of these mountains towards to the Last hope Sound on horseback before and have liked the lush green landscape. It was very different from what I was used to in Torres del Paine National Park. But I never expected to find such an amazing Alpine paradise full of turquoise /emerald lakes, beautiful nameless summits with breathtaking views, green valleys and glaciers.
The first day we hiked alone for hours through bushes and the woods accompanied by a couple of Magellanic woodpecker and forest birds typical of the Chilean Patagonia. When we reached to 2500 feet suddenly forest came to an end and there it was; an endless Alpine meadow in front of our very eyes. When we looked back towards to the Torres del Paine National Park we could see an impressive panorama, I felt like I was a young condor flying over my homeland and seeing it, as it was the first time.
The next three days felt like I was living the dream. We were blessed with the most beautiful Patagonian weather; no wind, no rain, blue skies with high clouds. I was like Durin, the forefather of Dwarwes of the Middle Earth, who woke before the arrival of the Elves and walked alone in Middle Earth naming nameless hills and dells, drinking from yet untasted wells. I was in my own Middle Earth naming the nameless hills and dells.
Our camping spot became ‘Wizard’s dale’.
The big lake after the camping spot we named ‘Mirrormere’ since it reminded us the fictional Mirrormere lake on the gates of Moria where Durin stood and saw a crown of stars appear.
Then we climbed up to a mountain whose skirts stood the most beautiful turquoise lake carved by an old glacier, we named it Lake Elessar, Mountain became the Elessar Peak after the most beloved King of the Middle Earth.
I was enchanted by the beauty, the peace and the solitude of this place. We skinny-dipped in the ice-cold lakes without being seen by any human soul but the birds of the highlands.
Last day we reluctantly packed our tent and head back towards home to Puerto Natales. One last magical moment these mountains gave us, before we start our descent to the forest, a red sun rose over the Torres del Paine. I held my breath. Once more, I fell in love with the place I live in. How lucky I am to call this place home.
‘Nai Hiruvalye Valimar’