South America's biggest 'mate'?
Anna happy about the hot shower fueled by this wood pot-belly boiler at Camping Laguna Chilguay, Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo
Anna weaving at camp and wearing that beloved 'down jacket'/'pillow'/'hot tea bottle insulator' for the last time.....the next day it was taken away by the wind in a storm. RIP Mountain Designs 'downie' wherever you are
About the closest we came to seeing a huemul (a rare patagonian species of deer)...they are here though! Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo
Nearing the Portezuelo Ibañez
´La Cuesta del Diablo´or for us a sweeping downhill to the Ibañez valley below the craggy peaks of Cerro Castillo
El Rio Ibañez squeezes through this fault in the granite rock just after Villa Cerro Castillo....it doesn´t look like it but the wind was absolutely howling in our faces and at this point it probably carried away Anna´s down jacket and rain pants but we will never know for sure. Only 2 hours later and 7km up a bad ´ripio´hill did we realise they were gone. With our tails between our legs, beaten by the wind and exhausted from searching for her things we got blown back to Villa Cerro Castillo for a night indoors.
"Woke up this morning, rainbow filled the sky"....a better day leaving Villa Cerro Castillo, Lago Verde
Anna riding along the Rio Ibañez valley alongside the 'dead forest' where ash from the eruption of Volcan Hudson in August 1991 flooded this valley suffocating and killing the larger trees.
Out of the wet rainforest of Murta Valley and some spectacular lakeside riding along Lago General Carrera
Lago General Carrera
Calafate berries, edible but very 'seedy' and leaves a back/blue stain on your tongue. Better in icecream!
funny little beetle
We met many cyclists coming the other way on the Carratera Austral but 'Yoshi' from Japan deserves a special mention. No odometre, no fancy ortlieb bags (in fact no panniers at all, just 2 small bags laying across his back rack), just his bike, some basic clothes and an idea to ride to Alaska. When we told him how long it took and how far it was he was like "Araska....mmm...very far...very long". He was beaten from the wind on the Ruta 40 and had had wind all the way around Lago General Carrera. Respect and good luck to him
Beach camp Lago Bertrand about 10m from the road, but hardly any traffic, beautiful spot!
Lots of roadside propaganda by HydroAysen the hydroelectric company with its 'big finger in the pie' of damming chilean rivers for energy needs further north in Chile for Santiago and mines.
The confluence of the Rios Neff and Baker....the Neff is grey with sediment from the northern icelfield whereas the Baker on the right drains from the bright blue lago General Carrera and here they blend together into the highest flowing river in Chile.
'El salto del rio Baker'
Some crazy lads from Switzerland and Germany about to whitewater kayak the canyon below the confluence of the Neff and Baker...Ron Fisher on the right is apparently one of the best whitewater kayakers in Switzerland. A lot of testosteron and adrenalin amongst them at this point!
Anna battling some steep 'pinch climbs' on one of the steepest sections of the Carretera Austral before Cochrane and high above the Rio Baker
The debate continues...Patagonia 'with' or 'without' dams. $$$ versus environmental destruction
Gaunacos on the drier open 'steppe' above the Rio Baker
Riding high above the Rio Baker
Carlos 'Pedaleando Alma' with the provider of breakfast, Cochrane
Ricardo, Eddie (our english motorbiking friend from Santiago), Carlos, Ana Luz, Anna and Ali, Hospedaje 'Ana Luz' in Cochrane
Anna making friends
'Salto Rio Salto'
'Critical Mass', cyclists taking over the Carretera Austral
the Cafe at Puerto Yungay was a welcome break from the heavy rain with coffee, empanadas, cake and a hot dry place to warm up the freezing hands. Even the dog has had enough of the rain!
'Nuestra casita', our home for the night. The newly built 'waiting room' at Rio Bravo was perfect for the five of us, complete with toilets, running water and benches.
Bums or bikers?...Ferry waiting room, Rio Bravo
An amazing experience as up to 8 condors flew right past us one by one like the take-off runway at Heathrow airport.... one even flew by at eye level in the canyon next to us showing us his white collar and wrinkly red head
Rain, rain, and more rain in the 'valley of a hundred waterfalls' the day before Villa O'higgins. Luckily we found this woodcutters refuge to camp by with a fire inside, we dried out some wood for a fire and cooked inside with Ulf and Xenia
Things were a bit brighter the next morning at our 'Refugio de los leñadores´
'Valley of a hundred waterfalls'
The end of the Carretera Austral closing in....
Crossing Lago O'higgins
Henry 'Henrikas' Kontautas, our Lithuanian biking companion from Cochrane
Then back on the bicis above Lago O'higgins to check out of Chile at the Carabineros 'Candelaria Mancillo'
The road got rougher and steeper climbing away from the lake. We had to resort to pushing in many places
Different tactics were employed to make it easier to push the bikes uphill. We donned the backpacks for some 'hiking-biking'
'otra vez' welcome back to Argentina via the Lago O'higgins Lago Desierto border crossing
"Hey why don't we camp here for the night? We've never camped on a border before. I'll sleep in Chile, you sleep in Argentina". Saving the worst part of the trail for the next day, and with morning views of Mt Fitzroy, not a bad place to camp.
...even with some gusty wind and rain. Ali, Ulf and Xenia cooking on the borderline
First views of 'the Fitz' from camp
On the Argentine side the road ends and a singletrack begins...this is where the real fun begins!
Anna and 'Wimpje' still smiling and still happy not to have put our gear on a horse
'Bridge - out of action'
Then singletrack through the low beech forest with views over Lago del Desierto
Lakeside camping near the Gendarnaria Lago del Desierto with views of 'the Fitz'
A day and a half of time to kill waiting for the next boat...Anna is inspired by the views and sunshine for some backstrap weaving
Lago del Desierto crew loaded up and ready for the boat, Ulf, Xenia, Roger, Feliciano, Carlos, Anna and Ali
"put your hand up if you have yellow ortlieb panniers"
Lago del Desierto boat crossing, "is it popular with cyclists?..."
Wild 'stealth' camping in the forest with 7 tents and 11 people...we've never done this before with more than 2 tents. It worked though...plenty of space and our own waterfall.
Oliver and Marion from London
Ali and Oliver swapping 'Thorns' for a bit of a Thorn test-team comparison
Geoff and Rose from Australia with whom we would spend more time over the next weeks in El Calafate and later Puerto Natales
Entering the 'steppe' again before El Chalten above 'Rio de Las Vueltas'...time for some beer and restaurant food!