El Calafate headed south towards Torres De Paine 2 December 2014
El Calafate was an interesting town although again I did not much participate. And it actually had some interesting things to do, but alas after arrival a couple,days ago I felt lousy and had a rather miserable night, again ending up in the shower in the middle of the night, as at Malargue nearly a month ago, but not nearly that bad. This time just seemed a cold but with some lower unit problems. By noon I was feeling fairly good, but by then too late to schedule and still seemed a good idea to just rest.
The big thing in Calafate is the Perito Moreno glacier which is advanced at nearly 2 meters a year and the terminus is 5 KM wide and has an average height of 74 meters above the lake it drains into Lake Argentino. From the pictures of others it was quite impressive with tours from town by boat the you could do a short 1 hour hike or longer ones on the glacier. Would have been nice as a glacier is always nice to see.
Instead of touring I walked the three blocks from camp to downtown. Definitely a tourist town with outdoor shops and restaurants and souvenir shops, gift shops, and shopping. I chose a restaurant (open in afternoon) had a delightful meal and wandered back to camp, stopping bythe mini market for cheese, crackers, sardines, and beer for dinner later. This proved delightful as several others had same idea. After it required a trip to the bakery for a cup of coffee, but it did not seem right without a piece of chocolate cake with cherries and a strawberry. Marias and Hanne came by quite excited as their daughter was beginning to deliver their 4th grandchild back in Holland.
Then the news of Xavier in the middle of the night was rather disturbing. And Jeanne’s and my second cat is proving ill requiring a trip to the vet. Jeanne is not having a good week and I am feeling bad. It is very hard to be apart when providing comfort and support is needed.
Barry commented how the atmosphere seemed different this morning. Less tense and more relaxed. No more 9 day stretches of hard biking. This stretch is three days then a rest, then 3 days, again a rest day in Puntas Arenas,then 5 final days of cycling. Seems easy although we all know there are no easy days on the Andes Trail.
The ride was good today. Left El Calafate and returned the 32 kilometers from the junction this time with a tail wind although now only a slight breeze. Even so, I was cruising at 40kph, 10 times the speed in the other day. I am not sure I could even. have ridden downwind with the wind from the other day.
Then the climb of 900 meters 10 kilometers long and lunch. I was moving along. Expected nasty winds after lunch but flat with some slight downhill and proved very fast riding. On e we topped the hill the country just became wide open flat country. Michelle and I joked that it was excited to see the emergency road poles placed about every 10 kilometer with an emergency phone. It proved some diversion as nothing else to block the view. Then a final 30 k of not too bad gravel and a bush camp. 30 kilometer earlier than past camps which were at 160 kilometer but no longer available.
This bush camp is situated in a little valley with a small sort of flowing creek, although there are several dead sheep in the creek bed. And a large area in which to choose tent sites, but bathroom facilities in a bush camp are where you can. Unfortunately it is wide open here. I do believe there will be a lot of people trying to get up before the crowds to “wander”. It does get light though about 5 am and breakfast is not till 7. Always an interesting problem.
3 December 2014 Bush Camp to Cerro Castillo 88 kilometer Border crossing back to Chile
Not a bad ride first part without wind and gentle hills but mostly described as flat, wide open country. Temp was 8 degrees so not too bad although a bit chilly as I had dressed for warmer. Got to pavement and slight uphill reaching summit at about 60 k and the wind was blowing into us and felt cold. By lunch it was downright cold despite temp going up to 11. Put on all clothes and proceeded to borders which were relatively easy. Had a good laugh with Argentine border guards who said I looked like John Connor. My response was “I’ll be back”. (John Connor is a character in the terminator movie series.
Arrived at backyard here in Cerro Castillo and ok for tents etc. 1 shower but water iffy. No wifi and the lady of house has let us use a plug for electricity. Solar chargers are working marginally ok for phone and GPS, but iPad requires full power connection.
After dinner some Andean Condors were soaring overhead and definitely condors. Very nice. The wanted to post a quick note about Xavier and internet reported to be on at cafe in center of town. (Town is a mini market, two cafés, and the immigration center.). I walked the three hundred meters and several in cafe souvenir shop, but only those with laptops could get on. Phones were not accessing the network. I do not know which is more frustrating – the no connection or my inability to realize it is not connecting. Finally after half hour and a good cup of coffee I gave up looking at the phones endless loop of trying to connect and returned.
Tomorrow we ride to the most scenic of Chile’s national parks, the Torres de Paine. This is one of the four main highlights on the Andes Trail, along with Machu Picchu, the Salar de Uyuni, the Perito Moreno glacier which I did not see three days ago. We have a rest day to allow those that want to to go hiking into the scenic areas. Me, me, me.
4 December 2014 Torres de Payne
All my life I have seen pictures of these iconic mountains. Today I saw them for real and am camped beneath them. Wow.
Left our backyard camp in Cerro Castillo and immediately was stopped by a cattle drive crossing the road. Worked our way through that watching out for the mud pies left by overexcited cattle being herded by cowboys and dogs.
About 20 k into ride another cattle drive taking place about 2 k off road but one cowboy was crossing and he stopped to talk. Very animated enthusiastic conversation and allowed me to take a picture then he had to move on and back to work. As he left I saw behind him and there they were. Cerro Torres. I thought we had to really hike in a ways to get the view but there it was. Was. Amazing. Rivals the Tetons in Wyoming but with big walls.
Approached closer and closer and like riding through National Geographic. Rheas, guanacos, condors, tourists. Had to keep stopping to take pictures and have our picture taken.
Now camped in national park campground and tomorrow hike into Ascencio valley into the mountains. Still early season so not much open and no mini market as hoped. So tonight pick up 3 box lunches for tomorrow, at 9:30 pm tonight. Will set an alarm. One box lunch for breakfast and two for lunch as they are apparently small.
Did a photo shoot of people with their bikes this am after loading and before the “Vamos”. Great fun, Hardy needs photos for his journal. He is a journalist and has his own journal plus writes for several others. (In German)
Well my 1 hour of internet is up gotta post