Los Cuernos to Campamento Italiano to Valle Frances to Refugio Paine Grande (Pehoe)
Distance: 18 km
Time: 7 hours
Okay so day three was actually interesting because we saw a lot of different things. We trekked from Los Cuernos into Campamento Italiano where we dropped some of our things (hung them up so no animals could get to them). From Campamento Italiano we headed into Valle Frances (French Valley) and then back to Campamento Italiano to pick up our things. From there we headed to Refugio Paine Grande aka Refugio Pehoe.
Per usual, we started the morning with delicious eggs, bread and coffee at Los Cuernos.
We started the hike covered up because it was raining from the moment we woke up. Light rain but rain nonetheless. The start of the hike was right along the beach of the lake which was gorgeous.
What was cool about this day is all the different terrain we covered. We hiked in rain, hail, and snow. We went through bridges, planks, rocky areas and even a vertical wooden bridge (think a ladder with a slight incline).
Made it to Campamento Italiano to drop our things for a few hours and keep going.
We made it to the furthest view point we could get to (weather wasn’t ideal to keep going). To the left you can see the Hanging Francés Glacier.
To the right you can see (from left to right) Cerro Espada, Cerro Hoja, Cerro Mascara, with Cuerno Norte partially visible on the far right.
This bag made us super happy every day. It was always full of snacks, fruit, chocolate and a delicious sandwich.
Spencer and I both LOVE hot sauce. We put it on almost everything. That said, before the hike we knew we had to pack some sort of spicy something. We headed to the grocery store and picked up some of this Aji Pebre which is very popular in Chile. Pebre is made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy aji peppers. Needless to say it really made our sandwiches. Even our guide Maurizio was excited we brought it.
Upkeep of planks is done by Patagonia. Sometimes it rains a lot and its impossible to cross without getting soaked so these planks are helpful.
This part of the W Trek made me super sad. Back in 2011 an insanely irresponsible hiker who claims he tried to burn some toilet paper and it flew away from his hands started a fire in the park . The fire affected 40,000 acres of the park and you can see its devastating effects.
It’s important when visiting parks like this to LNT (leave not trace). You should be able to visit these areas but also respect the fact that they should be left untouched so generations to come can also enjoy…
Approaching Refugio Paine Grande
This Refugio was my second favorite (after Los Cuernos) because it really felt like a Lodge. It had a nice hang out area where we played dominoes and of course Maurizio schooled us.
Best part – because we were hiking in the off season we had the whole place to ourselves! Besides the people working the Refugio there were only ones there the first night.
This may have been my favorite dinner because it reminded me of my moms Carne con Chile. Mmm…
…and an amazing dessert!