Torres del Paine “W Trek” Day 4: Lodge Paine Grande to Refugio Grey

Continuing on with our W Trek, on the fourth day we would hike from Lodge Paine Grande (#3 on map) to Refugio Grey (#4), drop our large packs, and do a short hike to a glacier lookout (star near Glacier Grey).  This would be a pretty long day, around 15km and 5.5-6 hours of hiking.

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{ map source }

We geared up and headed to breakfast and got in the line we noticed that was forming.  Traveler Tip: breakfast starts at 8 AM at Lodge Paine Grande and don’t be late – GET IN LINE EARLY.  Otherwise you might wait a half an hour or more for your food, which will delay your start since the line goes so slowly.  Breakfast was more generous at this location and they even had oatmeal (!), but the bread was packaged stuff and fairly stale.

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We started a little after 8 AM, hiking for some time with our fellow trekker, Rustica.  It was overcast, but the surrounding colors were still radiant.

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After an hour or so we passed our Israeli lady friends, hiking strongly up the hills.  Some of the surrounding area made me think of Washington or the Cascades, even though I’ve never been there.

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A little later into the hike we also saw our Aussie friends from day 1, Peter & Jenny (hope I got the names right!) – they had to take a round-about way to complete their trek as the hotels were so full.  We exchanged stories and tips about the refugios we’d stayed at.

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As you can see the forest devastation continues on this section of the hike and Lake Grey’s color lives up to its name; such contrast from the earlier lakes.  I was tired and hungry at this point of the hike, so a little grouchy to say the least.

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{ Food!  Eating massive amounts of trail mix most likely }

After 3 hours of hiking with some elevation (up and down), we made it to Refugio Grey, nestled in the woods.  It’s pretty cozy with a nice common area and rooms with bunks and hot showers; we also heard you there are rooms you can rent for just two people, but we missed this.

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We dropped our gear and packed our day packs with our lunches.  I had thought we were going to eat at the warm lodge, but David had suggested going to a lookout for lunch.  I reluctantly said okay and we went to the wrong lookout point (the kayak beach) and it was dreadfully cold and windy!  We just walked back up the trail and ate lunch on a sheltered rock instead. 

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I was very sad the brick sandwich we were getting earlier was no more – Vertice packed much more meager sandwiches; mine was just cucumbers and lettuce in stale bread, but luckily I packed the cheese from breakfast to at least make it a cheese sandwich!

Anyway, after lunch we went to the first look out point which is only ten minutes from the hotel – worth the visit!  While hiking around we  a huge condor that flew over and below us, it was just amazing.

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Unfortunately, we hiked around the lookout for a good hour not finding the trailhead that would take us to the next lookout farther north.  We backtracked and finally found the correct trailhead that would take us up through the forest to a good glacier viewpoint.

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Near the lookout, there is a suspension bridge you have to cross, and it’s no joke!

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I told David I needed to go one by one – I did not need him jumping on this one as he loves to do!  Maybe 15 minutes after the bridge you will see a sign for banos – if you look on the back of it, it will point you to the lookout. 

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The lookout gets you a lot closer to the glacier and you get a really good feel for how far it extends.

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After a breather at the lookout, we started the nice downhill journey back to Refugio Grey.  We had some time before dinner and were starving, so had beers to tide us over until dinner and kept it classy with our socks and sandals. 

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A final note – I didn’t photo dinner, but should have; it was horrible!  The meat option was a pork chop that was so hard some of the guys were taking out their pocket knives to saw at it.  The joke was that it was guanaco meat (a native llama-like animal that would be very muscular).  For the vegetarian meal I was served rice with some old lettuce and cucumber slices.  And that’s it.  For someone extremely hungry after 6 hours of hiking this was truly disappointing, particularly when you’ve paid a lot for each meal.  If you have limited time in the park, stick with the Fantastico Sur establishments over the Vertice ones, their food and service is much superior!  

All in all, still a good day and at the end we were happy to be warm and safe, and ready to travel the long road back home.

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2 thoughts on “Torres del Paine “W Trek” Day 4: Lodge Paine Grande to Refugio Grey

  1. Thank you for your detailed and helpful story. I have a question. DO you know if there are boats that take you back from Grey camp to the Refugio Paine one way. It seems like the hike is 6 hours to go up, so how can I come back and make it to the last bus to Puerto Natales?

    1. Hi there- I wrote briefly about the exit options in the next post, but unfortunately I don’t know much detail other than that! The transport out was a bit confusing as I recall. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

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