Day 5. Day 5 starts before dawn.
To people that know me, that is not normally possible, and there is no such thing as "before dawn". Days end and magically start again the following day without this mythical "dawn" business.
But this place has a strange effect and Jeff and I duly rose and hiked an hour up a steep boulder field by torchlight. Well we started by torchlight, until we realised that we could see enough by the half moon glowing in a perfectly clear sky. Hiking by moonlight is cool!
Just enough time at the top to break out the stove for Jeff to brew the Mate (pronounced mat-ay) - a foul tasting, bitter, tea like herb drunk by the gallon in South America, then test the valley sides for echoes (very satisfying), before the sun rose.
Clear days are about 20 per year here, and we got the number one! Sunlight strikes the tops of the towers and it´s like a neon show after that with the tower tips blushing crimson, which slowly creeps down the rock like blood as the sun rises higher. Awesome is a good word here.
For about an hour the colour slowly heats up through burnt orange to amber, all set off by the bluest sky I´ve seen since Buenos Aires. The sun strikes the tiny glacier which starts to grumble and rumble and melt down a crack in the rock. It was just a truly magical natural son et lumiere show. To cap it there´s a small lake and as the wind was curiously absent, the towers are doubled in reflection. Perfect.
And the rock wall looks just like the gates to the Mines of Moria. I spoke "friend", but the damn things were broken by the creature in the lake and remained obstinately shut. I could not enter.
After 2 1/2 hours I managed to tear myself away, hike down and break camp.
And the mice had got me. Hung all my foodstuff up a tree - but they can obviously levitate.
And open zips.
I swear the top pocket of my pack was closed, but my chocolate inside was shredded.
Hiking back down the steeps back towards the lake I wimped out of doing the full "circuit" as this is the end of the shorter "W" hike. Sore leg for 5 days - iced in rivers every night - and the prospect of 5 more days, I justified it to myself that I would not top dawn at the towers. And wimped out.
Someone was watching, so I missed the bus - I literally saw it go. Jeff left the towers before me as he was finishing anyway and I saw him in the window looking like a man who arrived slightly before me. I was 1 minute late and for once a bus in Chile left on time. So I waited 5 hours and got back just in time to claim an overspill bed in "The Cave" at the "Erratic Rock" hostel - the best hostel in Puerto Natales. Bill the owner made me say that, but it´s true.