Oh Booth winter break, how I’ve missed you! Last year, winter break was the glorious reward after a busy first quarter balancing school and summer internship recruiting. But this year as a 2nd year student, it’s a bittersweet reminder that the Booth experience passes by all too quickly and we’re just two short quarters away from graduation. So this past December, Bayasaa Enkhbaatar (a fellow 2nd year Booth student, dear friend, and partner in crime) and I decided to give in to our wanderlust and embark on a two week adventure together to hike Patagonia and make the most of this break.
A month of meticulous planning, 3 flights, and a fun detour to Buenos Aires later, we found ourselves surrounded by majestic peaks and turquois lakes in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. With a planned route of 45 miles over 5 days on the W-circuit trail, it certainly wasn’t the typical “relaxing” holiday vacation.
Day 1: (6 km, 3 hours) Arrive in Torres del Paine National Park and hike to Chileno base camp.
Day 2: (15 km, 8 hours) Hike to Mirador Torres to see the iconic towers.
Day 3: (12 km, 5 hours) Trek through Los Cuernos sector alongside beautiful Lake Nordenskjöld.
Day 4: (20 km, 11 hours) Explore the French Valley and Paine Grande.
Day 5: (20 km, 11 hours) Journey to Glacier Grey.
Was it strenuous? Yes. Did we face all sorts of unexpected challenges in the wilderness? You bet we did. Were there times when I thought we were crazy to spend New Years Eve in the middle of nowhere without any way of saying “Happy New Year” to family, friends, and loved ones? Absolutely. But it was also one of my most rewarding experiences. We tasted the freedom of being completely unplugged, mingled with trekkers from all corners of the world, embraced a new culture together, and bonded even more through some crazy shared experiences (getting wildly lost after wandering off-trail and fording flooded rivers after an overnight rainstorm being a few of the memorable ones).
All said and done, it’s adventures like these with lifelong friends I’ve made at Booth that I’ll remember for years and years to come.
Caroline Lu is a second year (Class of 2015) concentrating in strategic management, operations, and economics. She is an avid hiker, board game aficionado, and impulsive baker who will never turn down a game of Acquire or good flan.