El Burro - In Ushuaia.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TeeTwo, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    If you’re looking for an alternative route to SPDA, at the north side of Baquedeno, head SE on B-385 and follow it all the way east to the south edge of the Salar de Atacama. Cross the salar - the roads are well established and nowhere near as freaky as salar Uyuni. B385 is a salt road and is a very easy surface to ride. On the east side of the salar is a nice ribbon of asphalt that skirts the volcanos. Some lagunas with flamingos. Really pretty. Definitely a prettier ride than the ride to Calama. My 2 cents.
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  2. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    Great, looking forward to your shots from around San Pedro; for me it was unforgetable to be there in the high Atacama with volcanoes streching away into the distance. Thanks for your great updates.
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  3. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Before heading to the Mano I stopped at the beach and bid farewell to the Pacific for now. The next time I see it will be in Patagonia in the southern Spring. The Atlantic will be next in view, from Montevideo.

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    Then the Mano del Desierto.

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    It occurred to me that I couldn't recall seeing a picture of the back of the hand....so I took one. Well manicured nails...unlike my tatty grease stained examples.

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    An often visited and well stickered sign. Checked the box on this ADVer icon, no sticker though.

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    Onward. T2
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  4. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    I hemmed and hawed about which route to take t SPDA after powderzone's tip. In the end I stayed with the plan to visit Chacabuco and get to SPDA early enough to have a look around. My plan being to move on to Argentina today via the Paso de Jama; you know what they say about plans. And if pictures of volcanoes brought you here you will be disappointed.....but back to Chacabuco.

    Developed in the 1920's as a self contained nitrate mining camp it was the last such enterprise from the nitrate boom that fueled Chile's initial wealth. It closed in 1940 and remained abandoned until 1973 when it was reopened as a concentration camp for the political opponents of General Pinochet. As was noted in a piece of literature Pinochet was installed after a certain country to the north and it's cadre of CIA spooks f*%ked up a perfectly good democracy.

    Anyway, it was a fascinating place to wander around, the theater apparently hosted Caruso in its heyday, tells you much about the money nitrates brought in.

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    In 1973 it must have been a pretty hideous and lonely place to be sent to in the hope you would be forgotten about.

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    One prisoner, Autor Orlando Valdese, left a poignant mark on the place, crafted in the main square.....
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  5. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Chacabuco is a national monument to the nitrate industry, but is not heavily curated. Again wandering around freely and entering buildings at your own risk is the order of the day. There were a few signs in English that enriched the experience.

    The wind again picked up and a dust cloud hovered over Calama and to the north, and obscured the volcanoes as I approached SPDA.

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    The desert had a green hue to it, a sparse covering of plants some of which were flowering. Unexpected.

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    ...and the best view of the day of the volcanoes....sad.

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    SPDA is a funky little town, put me in mind of the desert southwest in the USA...
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  6. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    …… interesting landscape on the way in.

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    I stayed at the Los Duenos, it checked all the boxes and was a short walk into town.

    As I wandered around it became windy and with the dry unmade streets very, very dusty. All that was missing was a tumbleweed or two and John Wayne.

    As mentioned earlier the plan was to head for Argentina in the morning, and it started out OK, though the day was overcast, the wind was gaining strength and the temperatures were chilly once out of town. The local volcano was still a little camera shy.

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    I took this shot when I stopped to put on the heated jacket and gloves, the wind was blowing at 30mph or so, gusting more and the temperature dropped into the mid-40's. It was only the beginning.....
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  7. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    Brrrrr....Paso de Jama...it was 2 deg C. when I went through there in October. Salar de Tara is nice though. Hopefully you were above the clouds by then.
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  8. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    40 miles into the 100 miles to the border station the temperatures were below freezing, altitude above 15,000ft and winds strengthening. The clouds ahead looked ominous, it looked like snow was falling. Another five miles and my fears were confirmed..

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    That I could handle....but it rapidly deteriorated, with snow accumulating on the roadway at points.

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    A few miles on from this shot it became a white out blizzard, temperatures dropped to 21F. As I approached a car running at about 5 to 10mph, it was nearly taken out by an oncoming truck. You couldn't see a damn thing. My resistance broke, thoughts of 'I don't need to do this, tomorrow is another day' and 'remember the promise to the family back home, no unwarranted risks' barged through, rightly so - this was beyond my risk tolerance so I returned to SPDA. On the descent where the wind had been 30mph, it was now a steady 50, gusting more, where the temperature was 35F on the way up it was now 10 degrees colder.

    As I descended I saw 4 or 5 other ADV'er bikes heading up. Of course, it is human nature to second guess a decision, but the decision had been made. It was the right one for me and the right one period. After getting back and into a hostel I looked at a couple of websites to check the conditions for tomorrow and I saw these notices.

    The condition of Paso de Jama border station. Closed. It had been from 12.30...forgot to take a screen shot at the time.

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    It turns out all three border crossings ended up being closed today, due to viento blanco, blizzards, and sustained 50mph winds.

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    I hope the other riders made it through to the border post or turned back. It was no place to be today. It is 70F and sunny (but very windy) in SPDA...I'll take it.

    I will be checking the frontier site tomorrow morning and hope to take another crack at it. It is supposed to be tranquilo on Tuesday, just hope the road can be cleared if any amount of snow accumulated.

    Cheers. T2
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  9. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    Hard to "like" your last post but at least your warm and safe back in SPDA. I was wondering what that pass would be like at this time of year. It's not a very hospitable place to break down or have a spill. 100% you made the right call to turn back.
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  10. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Yeah, it is certainly late in the fall season, but I was hoping to sneak through, and probably will. Cold I can deal with, wind if it is not gale force...but when the snow starts falling in addition to those two it is time to get the hell off the mountain, whichever mountain it is and whatever activity you are doing.

    At least it is a road with a reasonable number of other users on it..

    Thanks for your several posts along the way.

    T2
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  11. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    Thanks for your great update T2. I really apprectiated revisting that part of my South American adventure through your ride report !

    And I've said it before, ain't no one tougher than a transcontintental motorcyclist !!
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  12. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Catching up on the last few posts, great set of updates @TeeTwo :nod :nod

    That's cool as hell, how neat to meet up with fellow ADVers like that. Hope you're able to connect again when it's time to hit Patagonia :thumb
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  13. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    That's cool as hell @TeeTwo! I'm not a huge fan of enclosed spaces, but really like caves and exploring stuff like that as long as it's not too tight. What an experience to go into an active mine, especially one that forces you to endure what the miners do. Good on you man :D :D
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  14. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    That's nuts, 3500 meters is over 11k feet...higher than our Mt. Hood in Oregon. Sweet pics @TeeTwo, that shot of the Dakar logo is super cool.

    Riding across the salt flats like you describe reminds me of doing something similar on a Baja trip. It's like sensory deprivation - no visible navigation markers, etc. Imagine it felt fantastic to "get to the other side".

    Enjoying the report :-) :-)
  15. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Woof, that sounds miserable :eekers :eekers. Good call on turning around, sounds like you would have been turned back regardless (hope the other riders did the same). Hope you've been able to make it into Argentina and getting through the pass wasn't a pia.

    Look forward to the next update :ricky
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  16. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Second time lucky, and it was a fantastic day to do the Paso de Jama. What a difference 24 hours made; today the sun was out the entire journey, the temperature never dipped below 36F and was above 45 for most of the day. Wind, yes some of that, to be expected up at those altitudes, but not fierce like yesterday. Most of the snow had gone, freeze dried by the strong winds, dry air and low overnight temps. There was a little snow left on the road in a couple of places, that was it.

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    I crossed paths multiple times with three guys on BMW R12GS, I think I saw them yesterday. We chatted at the border station, they were from Brazil. I caught a picture of one of them towards the end of the day.....does that GS make El Burro look fat?

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    So, turning back on Monday gave me the opportunity to see the stunning road that goes through the Paso de Jama. I am glad I didn't miss it on a low cloud day.

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    …...
  17. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    …..
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    Salar Grande ----- not the Uyuni but huge in its own right.

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    Argentina stunned me, especially on the descent.....what colors in the rock formations,

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    The road down from the high plain was like a tormented string of spaghetti, gorgeous 360 switchbacks, steep, and it went on for miles. It was a great way to say goodbye to the high Andes after weeks of incomparable fun. Lucky, lucky. lucky. From a real low the day prior to a total buzz today....that is adventure riding I guess.

    Cheers. T2
  18. Juan Cruz

    Juan Cruz Just riding

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    Yay!
    Welcome to Argentina :clap:clap
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  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Outstanding @TeeTwo! Congrats on making it to Argentina :thumb :thumb Doesn't seem that long ago that you were in Ecuador, huh?

    Fantastic colors in that pic I quoted, reminds me of riding through Titus Canyon in Death Valley (hope you don't mind the pic attach) a month or so ago...though on a much smaller scale (if such a thing can be said about DV...lol).

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    Looking forward to hearing about where you're staying and everything else as you make your way through the country. And it sounds like there's a local inmate...sweet!
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  20. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    liv2day - you are so right, it is amazing how time flies. Nasca seems an eon ago, let alone Ecuador.

    Geology is amazing the world over, if I had my time again I think geology would have been a good choice for me. I'm really ignorant about it but enjoy the visual aspects. Must have been a nice time to be in DV.

    T2
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