Daily Archives: December 17, 2015

Day 150/164: Villa O Higgins to El Chalten – 63km

Climbing 940 meters and down 800.

Today we had to get up early at 5:30 am to have breakfast, get packed up, and ride 8 kilometres to the first ferry by 7am. The first ferry ride was about 5 hours.

Along the lake this morning (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Along the lake this morning (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Onto the boat

Onto the boat

Getting on to our first ferry

Getting on to our first ferry

Lots of snow capped mountains, a couple of glaciers, and some icebergs. I got really seasick once we were on the open water, but thankfully it calmed down again as soon as we got near to the other side.

Once we got off the ferry we had to push our bikes up about 5 kilometres of steep, loose, slippery gravel to the Chile Border.

Getting ready to hike up the track to the border (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Getting ready to hike up the track to the border (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Impossible gravel (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Impossible gravel (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

It took over an hour for us to get through, then we had 22 kilometres across country, through gravel and mud swamp, across rivers, balancing on logs to get across rivers, down steep hills, and about 2 kilometres in total that I could ride. I carried my bike quite a bit as well as pushing and pulling it. Coming down a steep descent, I was imagining my daughter Lizzy whizzing down with a great big grin on her face.

Gravel beyond our capabilities

Gravel beyond our capabilities

Landslide on the way

Landslide on the way

Bike walking . . . it's the latest sport

Bike walking . . . it’s the latest sport

Jo carrying her bike over a log

Jo carrying her bike over a log

River crossing!

River crossing!

Lots of mud!

Lots of mud!

Log riding!

And even more mud!

Typical section of the track

Typical section of the track

Not too keen to ride along that one

Not too keen to ride along that one

Treacherous track

Treacherous track

Getting through the Argentinean border was really quick. Then it was a wait for the ferry.

Checkpoint - No long queues of tourist coaches here! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Checkpoint – No long queues of tourist coaches here! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Checkpoint with a view! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Checkpoint with a view! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The 4pm ferry arrived at 5pm, and initially it looked like a number of people would have to wait for the ferry (45 min each way, plus turn around time) to go back and forth again. This would have meant it would be nearly 7pm before we got to the other side. It was cold and most people did not have enough clothing to sit around for a couple of hours. The only shelter had only one wall and a roof, we were all huddled under it. Luckily everyone was able to squeeze onto this sailing (including the four cyclists who were not in our group, whose 10am sailing just never arrived).

Almost at the next ferry (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Almost at the next ferry (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The ferry approaches

The ferry approaches

The ferry crossing - beautiful views

The ferry crossing – beautiful views

Glacier above the lake (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Glacier above the lake (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

As it was, it was 6pm by the time we got our bikes off on the other side. Then we had another 37 kilometres of loose slippery thick gravel.

El Chaten appears (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

El Chaten appears (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

It was 8:30pm by the time I got into El Chalten. Then I had to find accommodation as TDA had organized a tent site for these rest days, and the tent site looked bleak and cold, and it was really windy.

Luckily I found a room with an ensuite at the next door hostel. Very expensive though, as I was to discover this was the same throughout this town ($400 USD) for 3 nights. Imagine if I stayed at one of the flash hotels. By the time I had got my bags from the campsite into the hostel and showered it was nearly 10pm. By this time I was so tired I decided that as I still had one of the 6 sandwiches left, I would have that for dinner and fall into bed.

Categories: Argentina, Chile, South American Epic | 1 Comment

Day 149/164: Yungay to Villa O’Higgins – 99km

1,582 meters climbing and 1,336 down. Gravel all day.

It poured during the night. As the ground was rock hard and it was fine when we went to bed, a few people had not put their tents up properly and got soaked. I stayed pretty dry apart from the side of the tent where the rain had formed a lake, and it started seeping into the bottom of the tent.

I packed all my stuff into my bag and stayed in my tent hoping it would stop raining by 6:30, and at about 6:20 it stopped pouring down, so I managed to get my tent packed away without getting too wet.

A wet campsite this morning! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

A wet campsite this morning! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

It was raining while we were having breakfast so we were huddled into a shed trying to stay as dry as possible. There were a number of chickens running around with baby chicks. I have not had much to do with chickens, and was amused to see that the mother hen would let the baby chicks shelter under her, as she sort of not quite sat and hovered over them.

The ferry was not leaving until 10am, but after breakfast we all found our way down to the ferry terminal where there was a coffee shop with a fire and huddled around it. We bought the cafe owner out of chocolate and cakes.

The trucks are not able to come on the next three ferries so they have to go an additional 750 km round trip by the road to get to El Chalten. The white truck (lunch truck) is going today, so we have had to pack lunch to take with us. The yellow truck is going to go around by road to Villa O’Higgins to met us tonight, and then back track to Cochrane then drive to El Chalten.  A total of 1,000 kilometres.

The trucks can’t both go at the same time as that would leave us without any clothes or support. We have to pack our bags to ensure we have what we need tonight, and send what we need the first day in El Chalten in the white truck.  Anything we send in the yellow truck we won’t have for two days. I solved the problem by sending both of my bags in the white truck and taking what I need until I get the bags back in a back pack. A couple of the riders just could not grasp what needed to happen, and Britten (TDA) drew pictures on the whiteboard to try and make it clearer. It was quite amusing, especially as he had the dates wrong which added to the confusion.

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The whiteboard explaining what was happening

Heading to the ferry (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Heading to the ferry (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

We got on the ferry and crossed to Rio Bravo. By the time we unloaded it was 11am. It was overcast, drizzling and misty, and the thought of the 99 kilometre ride was daunting.

About to disembark (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

About to disembark (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The first 15 kilometres was pretty ok, the gravel was not too treacherous, and not too steep. The next 20 kilometres was not fun, we had a couple of really steep climbs with loose, wet, slippery gravel.

I started to think it would be dark before I got to camp. I could see the road stretching up endlessly into the distance, going on and on up the side of the mountain. Thankfully we then had about 30 kilometres where it was relatively flat with some small climbs. The rain stopped at about 15 kilometres and the day warmed up a bit. There were some fantastic water falls and great views of snow capped mountains.

There was a stretch along a lake front, with really strong head winds, then a bit of a climb of about 5 kilometres, then the final few kilometres into camp. During the day there were a lot of times that the gravel was just too thick, and you had to get off your bike and push.

Lake front on the way to Villa O'Higgins (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Lake front on the way to Villa O’Higgins (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

It was 6:30pm by the time I got to camp. I was very pleased that we were staying at a hostel with hot showers, and I did not have to put my wet tent up. Hopefully I will be able to dry the tent out on the rest day.

We have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow because we have to be at the first ferry at 7am, and we have to ride about 8 kilometres to get there.

We had to pack lunch again as the white truck is on its way to El Chalten. Given that it is going to be a really long day, I made 6 sandwiches.

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