What is the best thing to give your bike for Valentine? Well, an Andead crossing involving three boats, one pass with 200 meters uphill and 800 downhill (all without any luggage) and views of Volcan Osorno can definitely be an acceptable gift.
This day I am spending mostly in the city trying to buy all the things I need. I am getting a chain tool for the bike, a new gas canister for the stove and importantly replacement flint for my Zippo lighter.
Opposite to yesterday, today is a lazy day. Unfortunately, the WiFi at the camp is very spotty and so I am not updating the blog as I should. Plus I am lazy to write it off-line and I am reading a book instead. In the evening I am planning to buy boat tickets for tomorrow but to my great surprise they are fully booked so I am getting them for day after (which is, as I am learning just then, Valentine's day).
After my failure to book the boat ride for today this is again a lazy day. But I am using this opportunity to move to another camping, this one actually closer the the harbor (which is a good thing as I need to be there at 9am). I am also learning that WiFi here is much better so now I finally force to make some updates to the blog.
I am waked up by an alarm clock at 6 am. I am quickly having a breakfast, finishing my blog update and packing the things and I am ready to go only at 8:20. Which is a bit of a problem because I need to be at 9 am at the harbor and there is 10 kilometers to go there.
When I get to the harbor (on time to my surprise), I am figuring out that all the hurry was not needed. In fact, even half an hour delay wouldn't be a disaster because the ship is not boarding passengers yet and there is certainly a lot of people waiting to board. As such, we leave only around 10 am and the boat sets westwards with most people planning to take a excursion to some waterfall. Only a handful of them are actually going to do the same crossing as me and, well, they will be taking busses. I am the only biker on board and as this Andean crossing is apparently big deal (at least tourist-wise, people actually clap hands when they mention me on the ship's loadspeakers. I am not sure why are people so crazed about it though).
In any case, after the boat ride, the first part of the crossing is actually only 3 kilometers on a flat ripio road from Puerto Blest to Puerto Alegre. To beat the bus and be on time, I am actually getting a priority when unboarding. I am not sure if this was needed though as now I am waiting quite some minutes before the bus loaded with people shows up in front of the second boat.
The second boat trip is on Lago Fría and is relatively short. I am quick enough to eat my lunch there though (which is a good idea so that I can get rid of all the trash at the Argentinian side and not bring it to Chile). And similarly to the previous time, now I am getting a priority at the immigration which is quick and not very ceremonious.
After I am stamped out of Argentina, I am back with my bike. The luggage handlers are actually scaring me that the pass is very steep and that they take my luggage. Because I fear pushing the bike, I give them the bags and start off very light.
Of course, this turns out to be a fluke. Sure, the pass is steep but not impossibly steep. I would have needed to push only a few short sections, and even that mainly because the ripio is just full of loose gravel and is not holding my bike very well. Moreover, this pass isn't exactly picturesque. The main problem is that the whole way up and most of the way down (by altitude) is just a forest. This changes around Carabineros at Chilean side when the steep descent ends, the road gets much flatter, and the views open.
The main highlight, similarly to the second boat, is Cerro Tronador. The road then goes along a river, through farmland and around Chilean Immigration where my luggage waits for me. There I need to first find the immigration officer before I can be stamped into the country. I pass a quick food inspection and I also need to stop by at aduana to get a paper that I am bringing a bike into the country. Afterwards it is only a kilometer to Peulla, my boarding place for my third boat journey. Here I realize that the timing is quite tight. I have a reserve of about half an hour before the boat leaves. So it is a good thing that I did not go with all the luggage.
The third boat crossing is probably the best one. The views are good until I spot Volcán Osorno. This shifts it from good to superb. The volcano is just amazing even if it is in the wrong light (towards the Sun).
When we land in Petrohue, it is already a bit late but that does not stop me from making some more kilometers. On my way I am passing by waterfalls Petrohue but unfortunately they are closing right as I arrive so no luck there. Well, you cannot have everything. Then I need to pass one "stream" going through the road. Which is super-muddy until I realize it is probably just super-fine volcanic ash. As I am trying to cross it, I realize that the water is quite deep and it splashes on my feet, pedals and chain. Which is basically a good way how to destroy the chain if not treated -- after the substance dries it almost jams one of my pedals.
The land around is not very well designed for wild camping. So I have high hopes to find a camping in Ensenada. But one camping is full and another features very high price. In the end I am abandoning the idea of camping here and instead I am continuing further. Which actually brings me to a national park. Fortunately, this time I am able to find a quiet and hidden spot off the road on volcanic rocks. As a result, I have superb evening views over Volcán Osorno.
As good as the views were in the evening, the morning brings nothingness. Or to be more precise dense low clouds so there is no volcano on horizon. At least it is quite warm. Because yesterday evening I forgot to get some water, I am now running dangerously low. Even with my backup stash of half-liter bottle I can barely make breakfast oats and a bit of coffee. Fortunately, I am able to find a water source soon enough after I start cycling again.
The road itself now features (it was also during yesterday's evening) a good cycling path. After I leave the national park the volcanic landscape quickly turns into a farmland. I am passing by fields, meadows and cows. As the day progresses the low clouds slowly clear up and I can again see the volcano if I look back.
In any case, once I turn to Entre Lagos I am pleasantly surprised to find a paved road here. According my map there should be a ripio here but I am not that surprised knowing the up-to-dateness of the map. And I am meeting a Brazilian guy who started at home and is going to the south. He seems to have much less things than me and even then complains that he has too much.
In Entre Lagos I am having a long break. First I am shopping and then I am trying to catch some Internet. The shining Sun was unbearable anyway.
But it is time to leave and go further today. This time turning to east in the direction of Argentina. I am passing along Lago Puyehue but there isn't much of a good wild camping spots around this paved road. So when I see a sign to a camping at the end of the lake I am quickly turning there. However, this turns out to be an utter failure. First of all, the access road to the camp is more than kilometer long. And when I finally get there, they ask freaking 25000 CLP (around 40 USD) for the damn camping. Right, I will have a full site and if I was a family of five I would pay the same but ... this is just outrageous price for a single tour cyclist. So I am turning back and going further the road. And I am getting more and more nervous about getting at least a some place. So I am super happy when I see an amazingly big parking lot or something like that. It is not the most clean place buy hey, it is so big that I am far enough from the road, it is flat and there are no big rocks there. There is nothing more I can wish for at this time. So I quickly setup the tent and by the time I finish the dinner it is already dark.
The morning starts with clouds. I am starting relatively quickly because it is going to be a hard day. The whole day is basically going up to a pass (from 200 to 1300 meters of elevation). But on my way I am entering Parque Nactional Puyehue. There I cannot say no to several short trails visiting various waterfalls.
As I am walking around, the weather slowly turns and it is drizzling. Which isn't particularly bad because I am hiking under the trees. By 1 pm I already hiked through all interesting places, visiting five different waterfalls. They are really great.
By now the drizzle turns to a rain. But there is no point in waiting. I have a weather forecast and it is going to rain even worse in the evening and for the next few days so my plan is to get to the Argentinian side as soon as possible in hope for less rain.
Unfortunately, the forecast wasn't perfect. The damn heavy rain starts sooner than I expected and climbing up the pass isn't exactly fun as I am cold and wet. I don't know how but I manage to clear the Chilean immigration (which is quite a big place with many people huddling inside the immigration building) without actually getting my passport wet. And I still have 22 kilometers to the pass.
Before the top I am really cold and miserable so it is like a godsend that I am finding a roadworks building/hangar where I hide for a while. I really consider staying there for the night but there is no point in doing that. Instead, I get more clothing on me (which is always a very tricky choice if you are cycling relatively steep uphill and grilling yourself in a rain jacket. But the rain and wind is really cold so I have no other choice unless I want to get really sick.
The pass itself is as anticlimatic as it can be because it is raining and misty. I am quite happy to at least see the top-of-the-pass road sign but apart from that the views are zero. This is also where, with a sinking heart, I realize that the Argentinian immigration is still 17 kilometers far (all downhill of course but riding fast in a rain isn't a good idea)
The way down is a bit better. The weather is slowly improving although from time to time
it heavily showers. I am meeting a German from Montevideo who is on a two-week holiday. I guess he has a bad luck because half of his holiday is going to be downright miserable.
Further down I see another surprise which is a bit scary. There is a big truck crashed beside a road and the driver (looks to be all right) is just sitting there on wheels. Apparently the truck was going too fast for the curve and ended up on one side. I wouldn't want to be in the opposite lane when this happened.
At the Argentinian immigration I am overtaking a long line of cars to get under the roof. There I am a bit confused as to which posts I need to visit (you receive a paper slip which needs to be stamped by all relevant authorities before you can leave on the other side).
By now it is quite late and I am not exactly in a mood for wild camping. So I am super-happy to see that there is a camping just two kilometers after the immigration. And it is a superb choice. When I ask the lady at the reception for some place to dry my clothes, I am actually getting a "campsite" with a roof. Which is amazing because I can dry my things at least a bit.
With the vision of another rainy day, I am happy that I can pack my tent almost dry (there is a bit of condensation but not much). It also looks that I was right that I might get sick if I continued yesterday without getting more layers on me -- I can feel that my throat is complaining a bit and I hope I can tame it with my small medical kit.
Because it is not raining right now and according to the forecast it should rain again only in the evening, I am going to try to put some more kilometers behind me. Not even a kilometer and I am already stopping. I forgot to oil my chain and after yesterday's rain it is really needed.
Today I am following seven lakes route (Ruta Siete Lagos). Unfortunately the views over lakes aren't so extra because the distant views are covered by clouds. Still, it is better than the misty and rainy yesterday.
Of course, the weather wouldn't hold forever. After the lunch the sometimes-drizzle turns into a more continuous rain. I am passing by a turn to Villa Traful (which looks more asphalt-ish than on my maps) and I am not choosing this detour -- the views wouldn't be nice anyway.
As I am cycling further, I am going across at least five cyclists with trailers. It looks like some organized bike tour because they look too similar. The road goes up and down but with gradients less steep than yesterday. As the afternoon progresses, I am realizing that there is no chance for me to get to San Martín de los Andes as I hoped for. Well, the next time I should remember the distances on the map more precisely.
In the evening I am trying to find a camping with a dry place. Which isn't exactly easy. I am in a national park and while there are some campings here, they are relatively far apart. I am not very happy with the first two choices (one free and one paid but without any good services) so I am pushing for 10 more kilometers. I am out of luck with a dry place for my clothes in this camping as well and it is a bit more costly but hey, they have a restaurant here. And a (bit spotty) WiFi! In the end I am getting pizza for the dinner and heat up near a wooden stove.
The morning is surprisingly nice. Except my breakfast. I am trying to find my spoon but without any luck. I must have left it in the previous camping. So I am learning that in an emergency you can eat oatmeal with a fork.
I can see Sun on the remainder of the way to San Martin! But it is also very windy and cold at that. San Martin itself is even more windier, it almost reminds me of the Patagonia.
As usual with the Argentinian towns, I am getting to San Martin in a bad time (i.e., the siesta time). I am buying a new chain and a chain tool (unfortunately, I later learn that there apparently exists chain tools which aren't fully compatible with my chain). I am visiting three banks until I find one which can give me money from my card and enough money at that. Of course, the post office is closed. Instead I am ending up in La Anonima to restock my depleted food stash.
Then I am deciding to go to Junín de los Andes. In principle, I could just bypass it and go directly to my next pass to Chile but I need to recharge my stuff. This adds a bit of detour. Which isn't that bad because the way to Junín is paved road and the other road would be ripio.
At three o'clock I am starting my way to Junín, which is around 40 kilometers away. I am expecting this to be 2-3 hours (later it shows that the two hours estimate was quite optimistic and the reality is around three). At first I have a nice tailwind. Around halfway through the road turns and it is now sidewind (with a bit of headwind) but it is okay. I am more worried about reaching the town quickly because I can see heavy clouds on my left and I am in no mood for another torrent of rain.
In the city I am quickly finding a camping and setting up for the night. To my surprise it does not rain during the evening nor during the night. Actually, I am meeting a German lady which finished her cycling trip here and is planning to visit a fiend in Mendoza. She tried to sell her bike without much success here so she will need to take it to Mendoza as well. And she tells me that it never rained here during the last three days.
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|Feb. 13, 2017||12.1||0.08||24.5|
|Feb. 14, 2017||131.7||0.57||24.7|
|Feb. 15, 2017||112.0||0.93||25.3|
|Feb. 16, 2017||65.9||1.53||12.7|
|Feb. 17, 2017||79.6||1.06||8.3|
|Feb. 18, 2017||84.2||0.65||15.9|
The next table is only for cycling activity.