Me cycling a paved road

Los Alerces to Bariloche

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After enjoying a hike in Los Alerces I am ready to go to sunny (and hot) Bariloche. To a bit of my surprise, the road is definitely less boring than I expected (with the exception of Bariloche outskirts).

 

February 7


The main reason I needed to camp at the expensive place (see my previous post) is today's plan. The idea is to go to the longest possible one-day hike in the park. Which also means the highest hill nearby. The trip is (according to the map) only 7 hours but unfortunately you need to start pretty soon -- officially you need to be at the starting point of the trek latest at 9 am (not sure why, it sounds stupid).


The morning is not very inviting. It is quite cold which means not-a-very fast waking up and packing tent wet from the condensation. Then I need to cycle for two kilometers and hike another one to the starting point of the trek. I tried to avoid it but there is a very clear notice board saying that I need to register with a park ranger before doing this trek. Given the fact that I will be pretty much visible on the mountain and that I don't expect many people taking the trail I decide to not make any more trouble. So I am making a detour (without a good mood) to the park ranger and while I am there only at 10 am which is already late for the trip, the ranger station is empty and so I am only writing the info on a notice board and getting back.

The morning promises good views
On my detour to park ranger station I can see this nice glacier

At the beginning the trail leads through a forest full of bamboo or something very similar. But then the trail gets mouch tougher. For quite a long time it leads through a river bed with marks only by random sticks. If I didn't have a GPS and didn't know I am going correctly, I would be quite stressed if I am going the right way. On my way I am also overtaking a family with kids for which this route probably isn't the easiest one.


Are these really bamboos?

But the toughness does not end there. The river bed is replaced by a moraine with a really sandy trail. This part is steep and I need to be careful not to slip. Then it changes to a steep climb (again on a sand-ish terrain). And then I got lost. Or more precisely, the trail more-or-less disappears and I am off the trail according to my GPS. But that is not a big problem as this is near the top and I can just find my own way. Or actually follow a couple which I am seeing before me.


When I reach the top the views are top notch. I am eating lunch and enjoying views of distant glaciers. It was definitely a good idea to go on this hike.   


One of many nice mountains visible from the top
A bit more wide-angle view
I really was on the top!

The way down is hard though. As the terrain is slippery, I need every bit of concentration not to slip. I am also meeting the family and I am wondering how the heck did they force the kids to go up there (it isn't an easy trip and kids usually don't like long hikes). I am also meeting an Iranian girl which was a bit lost. She is deciding (with a lot of disappointment) to return back without going to the top. I think this is a good idea because she would not reach the top in a reasonable time and going down would be even slower. She is a bit confused what to do though because her friends are ahead and they will probably try to wait for her at the top.


Once I finish the hike I again need to do the damn detour through the park ranger. Again there is nobody there so I only put checkmarks on my note. Then I go back to the bike and now it is time for some more kilometers. Actually, a lot more. I am planning to do 18 more kilometers to a free campsite, which, given the fact that is half past six, isn't a very good proposition. In the end, I am ending sooner, in another paid camping. But this time the price is a bit more reasonable.


At least the detour makes for some nice pictures
Back to the road

February 8


In the morning the tent is wet from condensation so I decide to go for a short and easy stroll around the camp. The trail goes through a forest and along a river. On my way back I need to speed up though because my bowels decide it is the prime time for the morning routine.


Morning hike through a forest
And along a river which is quite still

Then I pack the tent and I am off for another good day. I am passing by a waterfall which is a short hike but nevertheless the table says I should register with the ranger. Well, this time it is only maybe 200 meters to the ranger station but when I got there, they tell me that actually I don't need to register. Damn it, why did I bothered?


The waterfall

After the waterfall and a lunch break the bike calls to me again. I am leaving the national park and heading for a small town Cholila. Where I am again learning that Argentina needs more planning than Chile. The post office is apparently opened only working days in the morning. And as usual, it is siesta time so I am killing one hour by sitting near a kiosco where I bought some treats (unfortunately they do not have all the food I want so I need to wait until some bigger shop opens).

From Cholila the road is nicely paved

As such, I am leaving cholila only at half past five. Fortunately, this is where a flat paved road starts again so I am making kilometers quite fast. In the end I am camping just about 4 kilometers from Ruta 40 on a spot which apparently is used for camping not only by me.

The dinner is ready
Full Moon with the last rays of Sun

February 9


The start of the day is easy. First there is a very gradual descent, a small hill and another descent during which I pass by Epuyen (unfortunately I realize too late that the town is to the side of the road and so I am skipping any opportunity to buy chocolate or some other treat). The wind is surprisingly strong for this time of the day. But I am quite fortunate as the road goes in a valley between hills. The views remind me of higher altitude Alps -- rock and not so green bit of vegetation.

The start of the day is great
The road goes in a big valley surrounded by nice hills

I am having a lunch at El Hoyo and then continue to El Bolsón. Just a few kilometers before the city I have another excitement. There seems to be some forest-fire going on. I can see the dark gray column of smoke and just as I am passing near it, the fireman are arriving. Although it is more likely that this is some house on fire. There are apparently much more houses in the forest that I am used to but then this is on the outskirts of the city.


Something is on fire

In El Bolsón I am buying a road map of Argentina (a paper map is better for quick planning than a computer or a GPS) and the road goes through another valley. Just as the road starts to climb up to a small pass I am stopping by waterfall La Virgin. Which is just around 5 minutes walk uphill and the waterfall itself is very nice.


Cascada La Virgin

For the rest of the day I am slowly progressing uphill. And I have a problem finding a good camping spot because this is quite busy road and as usual for Chile and Argentina there are everywhere fences around the road. In the end I am finding a place on a top of the pass. There is a grass corridor with not-so-high voltage poles running parallel to the road and separated by a very narrow stretch of forest (few meters).


Views back are great

February 10


In the morning I am quite cold. Which is why I start my GPS to measure the temperature. With 3 degrees of Celsius above zero inside my tent this is quite cold. But I am even more surprised when I open the inner tent. Apparently outside it was freezing because the condensation on my outer tent is totally frozen. I guess it must have been just a few degrees below zero.


This certifies sub-zero temperature during the night

Because of the cold morning, I am starting quite late. I wanted for the air to get a bit warmer before I start as the first thing I will do in this morning is several kilometers long descent which would be cold enough.


A quick but chilly descent

The descent is quickly followed by longer ascent and another descent which is very nice. It goes along a lake. Wait a bit, actually three lakes. At the third lake I am having my second lunch and because it is as hot as it was cold in the morning (right now around 30 degrees) I am taking a dip into the water which feels nice and refreshing -- in any case I have only 16 kilometers to go to Bariloche and there is enough of time to do that later.


And ascent afterwards
Water-refilling break
With the blazing sun it is time to get wet

As I reach Bariloche I immediately dislike the city. Or to be more precise its outskirts. It just looks ugly. This feeling definitely is not improved by the fact that there is a lot of traffic and that the route to the center is not marked very well. I find the tourist office mostly by a chance. There I ask for few important directions, I go and check out a bike shop (which is closed right now with a note that tomorrow it will be open again) and off to a camping which is few kilometers from the city.


Towers guarding Bariloche

Route

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Download simplified GPX of a route here

Stats by activity:

Activity Distance
(km)
Ascent
(km)
Pedal rotations
(thousands)
bike 241 2.5 45
hike 8 0.1 -
Stats by day:
Date Distance
(km)
Ascent
(km)
Avg. temp
(moving, C)
Feb. 8, 2017 67.9 0.65 20.8
Feb. 9, 2017 94.6 1.11 22.4
Feb. 10, 2017 86.5 0.91 24.5

Elevation data

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(drag over a region to zoom in, right-click reset)

The next table is only for cycling activity.

Grade(%)Ascent (km)Descent(km)
< 2 112.6
< 4 23.3 15.7
< 6 12.4 14.3
< 8 3.5 2.8
< 10 0.5 0.5
≥ 10 1.1 0.4

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