There and back again - My solo ride from NC to Ushuaia and back - Currently in Chile

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Windham, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    48
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    Reality quickly shattered my plans to have to ridden my DR to the highest altitude ever achieved. I had mapped out a route to nearly 6000 meters using google maps satellite and a few other sources but when the day came, the rain, which had been coming down hard for several days had completely blocked the Bolivian salt flats which I had to cross to get the mountain. I woke up early, still eager to give it a shot but when I arrived at the salt flats this is what I saw.

    [​IMG]DSC_2299 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]DSC_2295 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    This is the day I arrived to the salt flats. Should have gone and taken pictures then because I think it would be hard to have a much worse experience than I did here.

    [​IMG]DSC_2283 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    I turned around and stopped by the tourists offices that are scattered through Uyuni and asked about road conditions out of Bolivia. They showed me pictures of deep snow in the mountain passes to the south and said that all the tourists were being evacuated due to extreme flooding. I didn't feel like sticking around another day so I decided to take the easiest route out of Bolivia and into Chile, despite the rain which had really started to come down. What should have been an easy ride through 170 miles of well maintained dirt roads turned into a nightmare of freezing temperatures, deep water crossings, and slick red mud.

    I knew the border closed at 7 which gave me about 10 hours to reach it. The first few hours were ok but after a time, the rain picked up and the wind was howling though the 12,000ft mountains which left me freezing to the bone and wishing I had some shelter. At the top of the passes, the rain turned to sleet which stuck to my visor and made visibility almost 0. About half I stopped for a quick lunch and realized that to make it before close I was going have to pick up the pace. I pushed on as fast as possible, but with numb hands and treacherous roads I was only able to keep moving in second gear. The last 5 hours I did without stopping and finally rolled up the border at 6:50 - 10 minutes before it closed.

    The Bolivian side was shutting down but stamped me out right before they closed. As I was wearily climbing back on the bike, one of them rushed up and told me due to the time change I wasn't aware of, the Chilean side had been closed for an hour. I was tired and not feeling like setting the tent up again that night but before I could start, they invited me inside the Aduna and handed me a beer. We chatted for an hour or so while I warmed up and then the kindly told me I was welcome to stay in the guard shack on an extra mattress. I gratefully excepted and it didn't take long to pass out that night. Too tired to bother making dinner.

    The only picture I took all day. Far too wet to take out my Nikon.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    The next morning I was up early and the first one at the border while I waited for it to open. It was an easy crossing and I was into Chile in about an hour. The scenary changed rapidly as I rode into the Atacama Desert, the dryness that Northern Chile is famous for still took a couple days to dry my boots out.

    Not a lot going on here so I spent the last few days high tailing it to Santiago. 1,200 miles of highway on a DR isn't exactly what they are designed for!


    Stopped at the famous "hand of the desert".


    [​IMG]DSC_2309 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]DSC_2308 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Pounding pavement

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr


    Took a dirt road off the main highway to find a campsite. No traffic so I set up right beside the road.

    [​IMG]DSC_2335 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]DSC_2337 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]DSC_2340 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]DSC_2353 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Another 400 mile day saw me close to Santiago. I camped out in the mountains again and woke up early pick up a couple things in the city. I needed a new RAM mount and front tire.

    Tunnel was out of commission but the construction worker told me since I was on a motorcycle I could use the trail over the top. He even held the chain for me while I drove under. Managed to take a few wrong turns before I found my way across...

    [​IMG]DSC_2355 by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Had a little life left in the old tire but it was not doing well on dirt. Not bad though, 16,300 miles on it.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Arrived to hostel "Casa Matte" which is a famous biker hostel in Santiago. I don't think I mentioned it but my bank cards were stolen in Bolivia so I'll be here waiting for replacements for a couple of days before leaving south. Still deciding on what route I should take to Ushuaia. Chile or Argentina?

    Nice to hang out with some like minded travelers. We have cooked dinner together and hung out on the roof top late into the night talking about our many adventures on this incredible continent.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Enjoying Santiago but I'm ready to see Patagonia and ultimately Ushuaia. Won't be long now!
  2. boristhebold

    boristhebold Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Yorkshire, England
    Shame about the weather and your bid to ride at 6000m but you got to see a flooded salt flat and continue your journey...and the Mountain will still be there for you in 2020, 2030 etc. Safe travels
    powderzone and Windham like this.
  3. Lostmike

    Lostmike Cruising

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Oddometer:
    176
    Location:
    Alice Springs
    Mate go down the Carretra Austral, its a million times better. If you want the most direct way to the good riding catch the ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaiten. The southernmost land border crossing you can take a vehicle through is through a little cutoff road through puerto rio tranquilo where the marble caves are (worth a look there a few pics on our rr) and into chile chico. (Its also one of the easiest border crossings we went through) The whole ride is absolutely spectacular. If you go down 40 in Aregentina its bloody windy without too much to see. Have fun!
    Haacker, 95Monster and Windham like this.
  4. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    48
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    Yeah I’m thinking that’s the plan. It looks like a better route from here. I’ll probably pass into Argentina pretty far south.
    fasttortoise, 95Monster and Lostmike like this.
  5. fasttortoise

    fasttortoise Smartest Idiot Here

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Oddometer:
    504
    How’s it going?
  6. Windham

    Windham Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    48
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    After 6 days in Santiago, I managed to pick up my new card at the fedex center, hopped on the bike and did the longest day of the trip so far at 507 miles. I left early as I knew it was going to be hot and I'm glad I did, because when I arrived at Pucon it was 39c/102f. Went into a small market while I looked for a campsite and bought two ice creams and a Gatorade. While recovering, I met with two sisters working with their dad at the market. I had them update my windshield and they gave me some tips for the nearby area. They said they were off work soon and wanted to take me to a hidden beach on the lake. it wasn't hard to convince me and the water was clear and freezing cold. Amazing end to a long day.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Chile has been added!
    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Sunset at the beach

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    I'm starting to feel a bit of pressure to reach Ushuaia. Reports of snow and bad weather have me hurrying more than I would like through Patagonia.

    30 miles of jeep trails and I saw this massive tree

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    And this hot springs.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Didn't swim though because it was already pretty hot outside and they wanted a ridiculous entry fee. $30 US I think.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Another day south. Another incredible spot to throw up a tent.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr


    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Had a chat with some local fisherman before they went out for the night.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Incredible sunset

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Back on the bike headed south on R7. Its an beautiful road, half paved, half gravel that runs though western Patagonia. It's an easy ride but the glaciers, blue rivers and clear lakes make it one of my favorites of the trip.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Ran out of road and had to take a ferry. It was booked full online but I chanced it and showed up 5 minutes before it left. Enough room for a couple of bikes and I quickly boarded and we were off. 4.5 hour ride.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    I want to know who owns this house and can we be friends. It's on a beautiful small island.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    What a road

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    2 inches of rain overnight though. Patagonia weather quickly changes and it left me having to dry out my tent at a gas station more than once.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Glacial river running into a fjord.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    The paved parts are almost as good as the dirt...

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Another day of camping. How many in a row is this? I need a shower...

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Spent the evening watching the dolphins and sea lions swim through the bay.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Sunset at 9:30pm

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    Glaciers like this one dot the mountains every few miles.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    A small viaduct.

    [​IMG]Untitled by Windham Taylor, on Flickr

    One night Coyhaique for a shower and laundry. Today I will be crossing the border to Argentina and heading straight for Ushuaia. It's still 1000 miles away and continued reports of bad weather may slow me down. There is supposed to be 50mph winds as well and possible snow farther south. Hopefully I can push through these last few days before I reach the end of the world and make it their safely and without too much frostbite. :-)

    I will update when I arrive. Signing off because the hostel is -1000 degrees and my hands are numb :rofl
    EvilEagle, bomose, Klinc207 and 12 others like this.
  7. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Oddometer:
    7,407
    Location:
    Ft Likkertail , USA
    Enjoyed the pics and update a lot. :clap Just stay safe, no sense in taking undue risks..:deal