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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|Feb. 8, 2017
|Feb. 9, 2017
|Feb. 10, 2017
The next table is only for cycling activity.