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.
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.
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.
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.
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.