Our alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 4:30AM. We were huddled together trying to stay warm against the freezing temperatures of the night in a rented tent that wasn't quite meant for people of Dan's height. The temptation to turn off the alarm and roll over instead of heading out into the frigid pitch of pre-dawn was difficult to resist. Under these circumstances, there's always a danger that each waits for the other to make the first move.
It was the final morning of our trek in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. The previous five days, we'd survived wind storms that forced us to cling to mountainside shrubs. I'd suffered a mysterious spider bite that made my eye look like I just emerged from a heavyweight boxing match.
We were worn. No pain, no gain, they say. Fortunately, we'd been rewarded with mind-opening landscapes and trekking camaraderie that more than made up for it all.
And this morning's trek would cap off six days' effort with a sunrise view of the namesake towers, the Torres del Paine.
I don't recall which one of us made the first move, but we motivated one another to pile on layers of clothes, switch on the headlamps and hit the trail. The weather didn't appear promising. There were ominous clouds that suggested coming rain, but we hoped it could all change in the couple of hours it would take to reach the towers.
Open the panorama to full screen to see what we found when we reached the towers. Early morning wake up calls can be painful, but usually they're totally worth it.
Panorama: The Torres (Towers) at Sunrise – Torres del Paine National Park, Chile