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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by infinityjellyd, Oct 6, 2016.
As always brilliant. Simply brilliant
Carry on, and memorable roads ahead
As said above, brilliant writing! May you continue to endure the beatings!
Merry Christmas Infinityjellied. Best wishes fur you in the new year. Thanks again for your brilliant ride report. Ride safe and stay curious my friend.
Thanks all. This was how I woke up on Christmas. Not too shabby.
Enjoying your amazing trip report and stunning photography!
Patagonia VII - Cochrane
After the marble caves I headed south to Cochrane, passing back through Bahía Murta. It looks very different under sunny skies than the gray soup through which I rode the day before. Compare:
The route to Cochrane follows Rio Baker, a river so turquoise that is looks fake, as if it were painted by an amateur who had not yet mastered the ability to effectively mix oil and so just applied cobalt teal right from the tube.
In Cochrane I did a guided snorkel trip down one of Rio Baker's tributaries. Full wetsuit, booties, hood, gloves, everything. The water was cold as an ice bath. But the views were otherworldly. The water was crystal clear and the colors of plant life were psychedelic. Drifting along with the lazy current was transcendental, like meditating and hallucinating at the same time. Not a variety of fish---only trout---but they were as big as basset hounds. I have no waterproof camera so I can't share pics, but I took this photo of a photo in a local restaurant that night. I saw at least a half dozen that size in my sixty minutes on the river.
From Cochrane I did a ride 'n hike for the day in nearby Parque Patagonia. It's relatively new (it's a combination of two existing parks with recently acquired private lands) and is full of guanacos but empty of people. They only people I saw were the folks working at the reception. After a few hours on the trail I returned to my bike and a setting sun which provided amazing scenery on the return home.
Thanks. I see you did an Ecuador Freedom Bike ride 'n rent like me (I did mine in 2015 I think...they have moved to a much larger facility now). That country is so small compared to its neighbors but man it packs a ton of variety in riding!
Patagonia VIII - Caleta Tortel
On my last day in Cochrane I rode the bike to Caleta Tortel for the day, a bayside hamlet near the southern end of the Carretera Austral. It is, in fact, the second to last town on the Austral. O'Higgins is the last, but there is no border crossing for vehicles there (you can cross over to El Chalten by foot or bicycle), so I made Tortel my last stop before returning north to cross back into Argentina.
Developed in the 1950s to take advantage of abundant timber resources in the region, Tortel had been inaccessible by road until just 2003. The wooded hills that cradle the gray-green bay make for difficult construction so residents have had to be creative in their methods, employing a generous use of stilts and, most notably, building a series of wooden walkways that serve as the city's streets. This is the village's defining feature. Even the opens spaces are constructed of wood: playgrounds and plazas are in effect wood-planked gazebos, something that doesn't quite invite free play or friendly loitering.
Tortel's other defining feature is its graveyard of abandoned boats along its shoreline. I asked a local woman why there were not removed or simply pushed into the bay to sink, and she said that ever since it was designated a National Monument in 2001 residents are prohibited from tampering with major structural aspects of the village. This prohibition extends to the boat carcasses.
Meanwhile, the rest of the town is similarly derelict, as if constructed entirely of flotsum and jetsum washed ashore from ships lost somewhere out in the fog. Binnacles and cutlery and children's toys and small-block engines lie rusting about the town waiting for owners that will never return. Tortel's crew of stray dogs, each with the salty scruff and devil-may-care posture of a Nantucket seaman, slink through the marshy shore sniffing out bits of dried fish or edible garbage cast overboard from the wooden walkways above. Cats pass through the dense brush dunnage between houses to mewl and protest the invasion of strangers. The whole place feels like you're trespassing in some private limbo where everything is abandoned to a gray eternity.
Been following you from the git-go.......now it all makes sense: Magnum is in search of Higgins??
Haha. Yes. Now I just need to find the TC Islands or the Rick River.
Sadly, Jonathan Hillerman died in November. Obit says that he played a brit so well he would get letters from English fans that didn't know he was born and raised in Texas.
In my 14th month of traveling my jacket started having zipper problems. Within a month enough teeth had fallen off that it no longer functions. This is my MadMax-style solution:
Let's hope it doesn't rain anymore.
It was your McCarthy excerpt that snagged me into reading, and I've now finished my third marathon session catching up to the present, reading every word of this, zooming in on pictures, creeping Flickr, etc. Just stunning work -- the photos and, as others have pointed out, the writing. You clearly have read a shit-ton of good literature, and I'll echo the sentiment: If at the end of this the thought of returning to work seems impossible, you should simply keep goin' and write. Novel, memoir, I don't care. A voice like yours ought not be silent, man. Also? This RR more than any other has me ordering supplies and crafting a 5-year plan. I'm going to learn Spanish, because you said so.
Seriously, thanks for the inspiration. Sad to have caught up, but stoked to see what happens next. Hopefully a new jacket? Best of luck, infinityjellyd.
South America (on 2 wheels) went from "nice to have" to "must do" because of this ride report as well
"generally lack the milk of human kindness"
We would have probably been friends if we were from the same area
Patagonia IX - RN40
At this point I had to return to Argentina since the Carretera Austral ends at O'Higgins and the only way to reach southern Patagonia is back across the border and down RN40. The way to the border was a dirt road snaking along Lago General Carrera, now transformed into a muted blue under gray skies. The rain was light and the road empty so it was pleasant riding in spite of the weather. But I did pass a handful of motos laden with panniers and camping gear with whom I shared a subtle but knowing ADV nod.
When you cross into Argentina the landscape experiences a sea change. Gone are the mountains and the greenery and the sinuous lakeside roads and now comes the barren, the brown, and the ominpotent wind. Towns are so far apart you have to plan your gas stops properly or you can be left out the side of the road with nothing to protect you from 60kph winds while you desperately try to wave down passing cars.
Guanacos are the only life out on the plains, although even some of them succumb to the inclemency of nature: I saw one carcass that had miscalculated its fence jump and lay tangled in the barbed wire forever, it's fatal error suspended in eternity for all to see. RN40 is miserable riding, not just because of the barren scenery but also because with steady 40-60kpm crosswinds you literally ride at a 10* angle, occasionally thrown by a 100kpm gust to the centerline. Needless to say, it's exhausting riding.
I hoped to grind it out all the way to Tres Lagos, but a massive storm rose from the horizon and when I was about 20km from its dark maw a GS750 rode out of the gray and pulled over to chat. He was a brazilian coming back from a patagonia ride and told me it was not a storm I would want to ride in. So I sat and played a game of chicken with myself before deciding to turn back and head to the last outpost I passed, a ghost town whose only redeeming feature was a functional gas station.
The next day I continued on south through the wind and occasional rain. This section included 60km of ripio, where I met a pair of stranded Argentine woman who had a busted fuel filter. I was the third or forth person they flagged down, but the first to have the lifesaving balm of Poxilino, a common brand of JB Weld-like substance. We made a Darkar-style emergency repair and they were on their way. Karma blessed me that afternoon with clear skies and a perfect view of the famous Fitz Roy massif as I rode into El Chalten.
For some reason, helping others always works out to your benefit. That whole karma deal, there might just be something to that concept. You checked the box and won!
Truly incredible writing and photography sir. Your photos firmly sit in the column of skill first in the gear vs. talent debate.
Always glad to hear that this little report has inspired others. I've said it before: when I chose to do a trip like this it was an ADV ride report that provided the final motivational kick.
So for all of you that are heading out on some Latin American adventure---whenever you go---do post a link here to any ride report or blog or whatever you end up with. I'll be watching. It's always great to read others' experiences in the same places.
Yesterday I was getting ready to enjoy another beautiful sunset here in the campo and then this monster storm came seemingly out of nowhere. I thought it might be a tornado but no, just some menacing clouds that looked like the sky was boiling. Made for some great pics.
Patagonia X - El Chalten and Calafate
El Chalten is a proper climbing town made famous for two picturesque peaks: Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy. A few pictures in local restaurant show the village in the 1990s when only the boldest climbers tried to conquer the spiked peaks: it was an empty field with just a few shacks. Now is bustling with hikers and climbers, and all the hostels, artisanal beer pubs, cute cafes, and climbing shops of any climbing town in the Colorado or Utah.
I had only one day to hike, so I chose the Cerro Torre hike. Unfortunately, the clouds were low all day and I never got to see the infamous peak. With 100+kph winds that blew across the laguna at the base of the mountains, the last 50m of hiking was a master class in physical comedy: I sat and watched hiker after hiker stumble like 2am drunkards against that vicious wind.
From El Chalten I rode down to Calafate to see the Perrito Moreno glacier, passing a lake that was candy blue en route. Prior to this trip, I thought such colors only existed in the kaleidoscopic worlds of dreams and sci-fi novels.
Argentina has invested well in the facilities, including a series of walkways and viewpoints all along the hill overlooking the glacier. It is one of the few glaciers worldwide that is still advancing. It calves all day long and is as impressive as anything I've seen in Alaska or Chile.