The Fellowship Of The W

This blog entry about the events of Monday, December 27, 2010 was originally posted on January 04, 2011.

DAY 12:  “Shit, there’s a hole in my sleeping bag,” John said, waking up in our tent with literal cold feet that morning.  “Well,” he said, clearing his mouth of morning grogginess, “that’s what duct tape is for.” 

Not only did he tape his sleeping bag closed, but the plastic trash bag we kept stuff in, to waterproof our things within our backpacks.  He was truly a Mountain Man out there in Patagonia to rough it — a Mountain Man without a shower I may add.  Perhaps his stench was what denied him a hot breakfast from the mess hall in the refugio, even though he got there within breakfast hours.

“Let’s go trekkin’!” he proclaimed in good spirits regardless, full of a pack of oatmeal, after we packed up our tents and bags and regrouped.  The Gang crossed a bridge over another mountain stream and head eastbound along the northern shore of Lago Nordenskjöld towards the third and final ascender in the cursive W, without turning back.  My bum knees were just as they were the day before.

“How’s your knee?” Jorge and Florin asked me.

“Off and on,” I answered.  “Currently off.”  My pain was regulated by an intake of ibuprofen blocking receptors to my brain.

“I hope you don’t mind me asking [all the time], instead of ignoring it,” Florin said with concern.  “[Some others] would be like, ‘stop asking!’”  I reciprocated throughout the day by asking about his blistered feet.

“WHERE IS THE SHORTCUT?” Felix wondered aloud.  Chris, our pre-trek guide from four days prior, had mentioned that we could shave off an hour of trekking if we followed the atajo (“shortcut”) to Campamento Chileno, which he claimed was easily marked with a sign, even though it was not on our park map.  We trekked forward on the only marked trail eastbound, although we were confused whenever it would fork off in different directions.  Felix and I were ahead of some of the others, and to let them know which way we went, he made arrows pointing in the direction we would take.

“This is silly,” Felix said, walking 50 ft. farther from his trail marker.  “Because the path is right here.”  It seemed the divergent trails always found their way back to the main one.

The lush wilderness engulfed us again, humbling Man’s size on the planet (picture above).  Despite blistered feet, dodgy knees, and John’s B.O., we pressed on, although Simone wouldn’t always stop whenever the others wanted to take a photography or water break because she just wanted to keep the rhythm going — it was slated to be a long way up to our campsite that night (about 8 hours).  I on the other hand, stopped at every opportunity.

“Who needs Clif bars when you can have fatty chocolate?” John said.

“Does anyone have anything but chocolate, candy, and cookies?” someone asked.

“The Americans don’t,” John answered.  He passed me our American bag of goodies.

“I’ll trade you a cereals bar for chocolate,” Florin offered, although Candy Mountain Man wasn’t budging.

Felix had other concerns.  “Where the fuck is the shortcut?”  The sun was blaring down, and we didn’t want to be in the sun an hour longer than needed if possible.

“Maybe someone turned the sign,” Simone speculated.

Jorge checked our coordinates on his GPS device and we compared info with the map to try and figure it out — a difficult task when the shortcut isn’t on the map.  We asked trekkers coming the other way, and they assured us it was coming up (despite Chris saying we’d see it immediately after camp) so we moved on.  Fortunately my painkillers were kicking in full gear, and with the combined adrenaline rush and the use of my “Gandalf staff,” I pressed through with minimal problems. 

MONTE ALMIRANTE NIETO (“MOUNT ADMIRAL NIETO”) named after a former Chilean Naval admiral, towered behind the shortcut sign when we finally found it.  It was obvious as Chris had mentioned.  Its undulating and upwards diagonal path did shave time off our long day of trekking, although it seemed harder than the regular way.  I remembered a quote from the movie Road Trip:  “It’s supposed to be a challenge — that’s why they call it a shortcut.  If it was easy, it would just be the way.”

With blistered feet and bum knees, Florin and I were the stragglers of the group and trekked the rest of the day with each other, as the sun rays beat down on us through the hole in the ozone layer.  Through a clear field of wild yellow flowers we encountered beautiful semi-wild horses grazing freely while on break from being domesticated for horseback rides, for the tourist staying in the nearby luxury hotel.  The swoop around the right-most bottom part of the cursive W eventually led up to the third and final valley; we knew we arrived when the winds picked up on what was otherwise a day of stagnant airflow.

“You can feel the wind from the valley,” Florin told me.

“I can feel it,” I said, relieved.

“I prefer it at the moment.”

When the shortcut met up with the regular trail, we noticed a lot more foot traffic; in the opposite direction, the regular trail spawned off and continued down to the luxury hotel at the bottom of the valley.  However it was upwards we continued, towards the Torres del Paine rock formations of which the park was named after.  Up and down we went on an undulating rocky path, as tour guides on horseback passed us by.  Eventually we made it across the Rio Ascencio to the Refugio Chileno, where The Gang was sitting down at picnic tables for an extended break before the final push.

Pre-trek guide Chris had told us we’d be tempted to stay there instead of pushing an extra ninety minutes to the free campsite closer to the Torres del Paine rock formations, and it was especially hard for John who had arrived first and ran into The French Girls.  He had run into them on their way back down the trail from the famed rocks, but convinced them to hang out for a while, even though they were on their way out of the park since they had one day less of trekking than us.  (They did an abriged version of the W, and therefore were not in sync with our group.)

It was a period of American, Romanian, and French flirtation — despite John’s odor.  “I feel like [Pig Pen] from Charlie Brown,” he said.  Sandra spanked the horse flies off of his ass while Marion asked me about life in Brooklyn.

“So are you a hipster?” she asked me.

“Look at me,” I answered.  “I haven’t shaved in days.”

Florin and I shared a box of orange juice and a hamburger with rice, as the flirtations continued back and forth.  But alas, The French Girls had to leave to catch their shuttle and left us to go on their way, but not without an exchange of email addresses and promises of Facebook connections.  John had already given his digits to them before Florin and I arrived.

She asked me for my address,” Florin pointed out to John, instead of it being the other way around.  “You probably said, ‘Hi, I’m John, here’s my number.’”  He was also busting his chops on him accepting their extra rice, tea, and soup, which would only add more weight to our packs.

“When a beautiful girl gives you food, you take it!” John argued.

“No, you say, ‘Keep the rice.  You can make me rice when I visit you in Paris,’” Florin schooled him.

“That’s so smooth,” I interjected.

“That’s why they asked me [for my address],” he answered.

Our little Three Kings brotherhood continued as we finished up our food.  John and I schooled Florin on American colloquialisms like “blue balls” and “blumpkins.”  It was hard to resist leaving the comforts of the refugio (as Chris has foretold), but we justified getting off our asses to continue the final leg of the day.

“It’s not so interesting anymore,” Florin said.  “The French girls are gone.”

“We only have each other,” John joked.

The last leg went over the river and through the woods, along the valley where black bugs made their homes amongst the trees.  It wasn’t long before we found the sign for Campamento Torres, our fourth and final campsite of our journey.  John, Florin, Jorge and I gathered for some celebratory hand slapping.

“It has to be a high five,” John told Florin.  It was the one physical request Florin obliged too for the time being; he wasn’t yet keen on doing “The Rabbit Dance” John wanted him to do, which involved grabbing a sign post or tree and then humping it rapidly like a rabbit.  “You probably do that to all the ladies in the clubs,” he taunted him.  John had referred to Florin as our gang’s “court jester,” a term that isn’t quite easy to translate in Spanish or German.

“Bufón?” Jorge speculated.

“Like a clown?” Felix added.

“It’s like a clown, but for a king and queen,” I informed them.

“You will take care of the king and queen,” Felix told Florin.

“I’ll definitely take care of the queen, man,” he quipped in his Romanian accent.

We were all happy to have made it after an eight-hour day of trekking.  John got the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme stuck in my head while we set up our tent, before we did Krang impressions and eventually continued quoting Anchorman as we had sporadically for days.  (“Deep burn… so deep.  I can barely lift my right arm ‘cause I did so many…”)

“I’m going to wash up,” John told me.  “I can smell my feet.”

“I only smell the DEET,” I answered.  Campamento Torres was swarming with mosquitoes and we sprayed the bug spray all over ourselves.  John went off to take a shower, only to come back with embarrassment on his face; The Germans had pranked him by convincing him there was a shower house out back, when there wasn’t.  The only person who had full amenities was the resident park ranger, who lived there in a skinny guard house for his first season.  And so, John’s feet continued to reek, while Florin’s feet and other problems.  He asked for help.

“This sucks doing it by yourself,” the Romanian said, trying to drain a blister with a safety pin.

“There’s no way I’m popping your blisters with a needle,” John told him sternly.

“I can not make it, man.”  Florin struggled with his safety pin in the most unsterile way possible. 

“[Shouldn’t you sterilize that with a lighter first?]” John told him; he was amazed at the lack of sanitariness for a guy who worked at the World Health Organization. 

IT WAS STILL BRIGHT OUT around nine o’clock when we got around to having dinner — a dinner much like all the others.  “What should I take, pasta or pasta?” Florin joked.


“I will take care of this.”  Florin volunteered to take on cooking duties that night as Felix, John, and I toasted our last and final emergency beer, chilled by the nearby mountain stream.

“Look at the women,” Jorge pointed out.  “Sitting while the men cook.”

“Like good women!” Alaitz cheered.

However, one man wasn’t so in control of his camp stove, when the water boiled over and erupted out over the table.

“Bufón!” Jorge cried out, laughing and pointing at Florin.  A few moments later it happened again, this time, spilling onto the Romanian’s iPhone.

“We can’t take you anywhere!” I mocked him.

It was all in jest of course.  Our fourth and final night camping together would be a memorable one — if not as good as the previous ones — with stories to share, email addresses to exchange, dishes to wash in the river, and conversations with the others we’d met in camp — familiar faces we’d seen for days.  Needless to say, the brotherly bickering between Florin and John continued.

“I put myself down and he takes it down two more levels,” John told us. 

“And then I step on it with my good foot,” Florin added.  All arguing aside, he was truly content despite his blisters and water spillage.  “This is like a trip in high school.  Always laughing, not planning,” he said admiring our motley crew, our Fellowship of the W, if you will.  “I feel young again.”

It was still bright around 10:30 when we called it a school night, for we planned to make one more great memory at sunrise…


“I would recommend that you take a break for a day,” my temporary physical therapist Simone advised me about my dodgy knees.  “But we don’t have a day.”

“I can rest when I’m done,” I told her.

Next entry: It’s Always Sunny In Patagonia

Previous entry: 127 Minutes

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “The Fellowship Of The W”

  • Next up:  It’s Always Sunny In Patagonia.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  11:04 PM

  • “you can make me rice when i visit you in paris” smooth

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  01:07 AM

  • like butter

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  01:28 AM

  • I can smell John’s B.O. through my monitor.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  02:24 PM

back to top of page


Follow The Global Trip on Twitter
Follow The Global Trip in Instagram
Become a TGT Fan on Facebook
Subscribe to the RSS Feed

This blog post is one of nineteen travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Chill Out in Chile," which chronicled a trip through the country of Chile, from the central and coastal cities of Santiago and Valparaiso (plus a quick jaunt to Argentina's nearby wine region of Mendoza), followed by a trek through southern Patagonia, and a journey to Easter Island.

Next entry:
It’s Always Sunny In Patagonia

Previous entry:
127 Minutes


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

Spelling or grammar error? A picture not loading properly? Help keep this blog as good as it can be by reporting bugs.

The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
All written and photographic content is copyright 2002-2014 by Erik R. Trinidad (unless otherwise noted). "The Global Trip" and "swirl ball" logos are service marks of Erik R. Trinidad. v.3.7 is powered by Expression Engine v3.5.5.