Sapphire Dyneema Gridstop and a flash of bright yellow. The sight was so familiar to me, yet so unexpected. I elbowed Danny in the ribs. "Look, that guy has my same backpack!" I whispered and surreptitiously pointed three rows ahead.

As we funneled off the modern bus and lined up at immigration, I made sure to navigate towards the owner of this pack, as he was certain to be an interesting guy. We were 20 kilometers outside of Puerto Natales, crossing into Chile from Argentina, on our way to Torres del Paine National Park. Danny and I had been traveling for almost 3 months in Latin America and had yet to see the GoLite brand.

"I love your backpack!" I said to this tall, smiling stranger. He introduced himself as Steve, and we soon learned that he had finished thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail a few months earlier. As we helped our new friend eat the bananas and oranges that customs' officials wanted to confiscate from his GoLite Pinnacle, we exchanged hiking tales and talked gear. He was on his way to Torres del Paine as well.

After two busy days of preparation, the three of us took the ferry across Lago Pehoé to begin our trek in the park. Steve was doing the classic "W" hike, as he only had four or five free days. Danny and I brought enough supplies for 10 days, and were planning to hike the "Q" route. After our last fresh meal for a while - avocado and tomato sandwiches - we said goodbye to Steve and promised we'd meet again.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  • Introduction
  • Photo Essay

# WORDS: 850
# PHOTOS: 17

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