tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Six Weeks on the Carretera Austral 2016-07-08T07:26:47Z John Coldewey tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536857 2011-02-20T21:50:00Z 2016-07-08T07:26:47Z Patagonia Adventure Itinerary and Route Map

Trip itinerary:

 

Satellite view of the route:

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536854 2011-02-21T21:38:25Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Welcome note Dear Friends and Fellow Travelers--
This post is to make sure you are online for the posting site that I've put up for our Patagonia trip. There will be postings from wherever we're near a wi-fi site in Argentina or Chile. Suggestions welcome!
Cheers,
John Coldewey]]>
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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536851 2011-02-22T18:34:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Google Earth Placemark: My Places.kmz

If you're interested in getting a bird's eye view of our route, try this. Posterous may make the attachment work by itself, but if not, make sure you have downloaded Google Earth (not Google Maps) onto your computer. Then click on the link Janice and Tom provided below (Thanks J&T; Laura sent us one like this back in June, but no-one seems to have accessed it). Once Google Earth loads using this link, look down the list on the left hand side of the screen and you'll see the places we are going to visit and, below those, scroll down to the daily routes we will be following. Click on the route you'd like to see and then click on the nearby small icon with three connected squares. That will get you started. You can stop along the way and check out actual pictures taken from various spots, and you can change your altitude by moving the cursor to the Google Earth screen and manipulating the "+" and "-" view slide on the right hand side.
Excellent entertainment, and instructive too. :-)

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: FW: Google Earth Placemark: My Places.kmz Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2011 21:36:21 -0500 From: Janice Sears

To:

jcjc@uw.edu

CC: Christine Rose



John, Tom did this google earth thing with "pins" for each one of your stops etc. You get to zoom in/out and see the actual scenery etc. pretty cool. I think people might enjoy this on the blog. Thanks again for a great dinner/evening!!! Janice & Tom Janice Sears MBA CMC Business Planning + Merchandising Solutions 206-369-3726 My Blog http://www.linkedin.com/in/janicelsears http://www.tagteambiz.com -----Original Message----- From: Tom Brown [mailto:tbrown1200@comcast.net] Sent: Monday, February 21, 2011 12:50 PM To: Janice Sears Subject: Google Earth Placemark: My Places.kmz Google Earth streams the world over wired and wireless networks enabling users to virtually go anywhere on the planet and see places in photographic detail. This is not like any map you have ever seen. This is a 3D model of the real world, based on real satellite images combined with maps, guides to restaurants, hotels, entertainment, businesses and more. You can zoom from space to street level instantly and then pan or jump from place to place, city to city, even country to country. Get Google Earth. Put the world in perspective. (http://earth.google.com)
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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536848 2011-02-23T01:04:17Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Hungry for Argentina? Steaks! Here's an article that should make your mouth water for Argentina. A different kind of Omnivore's Dilemma! Brought to us courtesy of my son Chris Coldewey, who will be shadowing our trip from Seattle and overseeing this site, which he helped to set up.
Cheers, and see you Thursday
--John

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536844 2011-02-23T21:04:09Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Patagonia Blog Fans Hey! Is it possible for those not yet on the blog to subscribe? If so, how? If not, do I send the email addresses of these fans, friends, and relatives to John C? Chris C? How, what? Thanks so much. This blog has people wanting in. --Beth ]]> CC tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536842 2011-02-27T22:07:46Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 1...Friday in Buenos Aires We arrived early Friday morning and headed over to our hotel, the Los Patios de Montserrat, a charming 19th century B&B in one of the oldest and best districts of Buenos Aires. Fifteen foot ceilings with wrought iron skylight. Hung out for a bit and then went on a guided walking tour of the inner city for four or five hours, ending with dinner at 8:00 with our guide, Marta .

Extremely interesting city, warm people. The city is huge: two or three million plus about ten million more in the sprawling suburbs. Gritty but great architecture with a certain sense of tired hope. The last seventy five years have been hard on them. Steak for lunch, btw, just in case.

Tomorrow is a fairly gentle day. We'll head down towards the famous Buenos Aires cemetery with its spectacular tombs and we'll end with dinner out at Marta's home, where she has planned an exciting evening for us.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536902 2011-02-28T17:23:31Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Updates

Hi-Great update BUT where are Sat & Sunday?

Everyone is anxious to hear- how will you keep up ? J

Enjoy going to Bariloche and getting on the road!

Janice Sears MBA CMC

Business Planning + Merchandising Solutions

206-369-3726

My Blog

http://www.linkedin.com/in/janicelsears

http://www.tagteambiz.com

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536900 2011-02-28T21:44:37Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Day 2; of death and the dance of life

Day 2 – February 26: Buenos Aires

Another day of walking in Buenos Aires. We followed the main boulevard to small and intimate side streets, ending at the famous cemetery, filled like the one in Paris with elaborate mausoleums and ornate family memorials. Unbelievable, touching, just this side of grotesque. Of course we found Evita’s (Eva Peron) at the Duarte memorial, which was, of course, crowded. Afterwards, lunch at the upscale La Biella’s nearby, outside under the shade of green umbrellas, with obsequious waiters taking care of our simple needs.

Nearby, in a park with sidewalks winding up a hill, we wandered through a craft fair and on to a small whitewashed 18th century church with a baroque interior encrusted in gold. On the altar, in front of the sanctuary, an effigy of the Holy Trinity with three painted faces. Odd; comforting?

And in the evening we were swept off to a suburb twenty kilometers outside of BA, where Marta our tour guide lives. She brought us into her home for a magnificent meal and an even more grand gathering of friends, with a tango performance and a sultry singer of Argentine ballads to cap it off. Pleasures involved eating more varieties of beef, pork and sausages than any of us had ever eaten before, accompanied by an apparently unlimited supply of famed Malbec wine, and topped off by fabulous desserts crafted by Marta’s 84-year old mother. The larger pleasures were meeting wonderful Argentine friends in the splendid home of our generous and delightful host.

Tomorrow, biking around Buenos Aires awaits.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536893 2011-03-02T16:25:07Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Last Hurrah in Buenos Aires

Day 3 – Sunday February 27: Buenos Aires

Urban Bikes in Buenos Aires took care of us today. We met Daniel and Xavier near a park downtown at what seemed an unseemly time on Sunday morning, as we were still a little tender from the festivities the night before. Nonetheless we gamely mounted a fleet of mountain bikes for an all-day ride around the city. Daniel rode a bamboo bike which we all marveled at greatly. Through parks and barrios, out to the Boca – the oldest district of BA at mouth of the river Platte, which is now a ramshackle colorful tourist site near a huge soccer stadium. Lunch at the Hippopotamus Cafe and then back across town to high-security (and beautiful) neighborhoods housing lots of embassies. By 4:00 we were hot and dusty and tired. We returned to our lair at Los Patios, had a final monumental dinner at the nearby El Globo and packed our bags for the early morning ride out to the airport.

On to Bariloche! 

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536890 2011-03-02T17:47:40Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Day 4: Bariloche: glorious landing and a glitch

Day 4 – Monday February 28: To Bariloche

On the morning of the last day of February we made seamless connections from Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche, arriving at the homey Rosas Amarillas motel, about 3 miles from town and across the road from the gigantic Lake Nahuel Huapi. What a beautiful place: settled by Germans and Welsh (and Argentines of course), it exudes the air of a European mountain town crossbred with a national park lodge. A popular ski area, it has lots of alpine buildings, all arranged on a fairly steep hillside. Our suites include kitchenettes – but also breakfast is brought to our room at 8:00 each morning. Roughing it, heh heh.

In the afternoon we scoped out the town, looked for bike shops and maps and returned to meet our guides David and Dario. Easy going and alert, really smart and competent, they are treasures. Unfortunately they had run into trouble getting our bicycles through the customs bureaucracy in Argentina. All the customs forms were in order, but the transportation form was missing. So many forms, so little time. During that evening’s long and meaty/winey dinner we all pondered the question of how we might get the bikes over the border. 

The solution was inventive, oh yes; it was certainly legal, and yet (that pesky “and yet”!) – one might hazard that it would push the edge of bureaucratic cheerfulness. We would do it tomorrow.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536888 2011-03-02T18:01:15Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Day 5: the Bariloche Bike Caper

Day 5 – Tuesday March 1: the Bariloche Bike Caper

So the plan was to get a big 12-person van, driven by the experienced and clever Marcello, and to drive across the Chilean/Argentine border about a hundred miles north. We would get the bikes, assemble them and ride them back across the border. No transportation papers necessary! And so we did, with all of us gaping out at the glorious mountain scenery. It took all day and part of the evening as we passed by pointy mountains and volcanoes, forested rivers, town and settlements. In the end we had a late lunch in Chile, secured our bikes and rode them back across the border. Now we’ll ride them south and back across the border, con gusto.

So the late late dinner was filled with good humor and hope and we collapsed in our beds well after midnight.

One more day tweaking our machines and scoping out the countryside. Then the ride begins. Bring it!

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536886 2011-03-06T01:38:24Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Of Waiting and Darker Moments in Bariloche

Day 6 – Wednesday March 2: Of waiting and a moment of darkness in Bariloche

Today was a day of shopping in Bariloche, tweaking the bicycles, setting up maps and routes and gathering supplies. The generally celebratory air continues, with one or two dark moments. Dario spent time putting new tires on the new bicycles while the rest of us installed gear we had brought down – saddles, bar ends, underseat bags, water bottle holders, and so on. A couple of people rode up the hill and down the lakeside road to help keep blood flowing, and we’re all impatient to get on the road.

It is a slow day here, but in any case it would be wrong of me to pass over the following. Near the center of Bariloche lies the town square with the lodgelike tourist information building taking up the whole uphill side and the log cabin police station on its left.  From the wide porch of the tourist information center one looks out over the town square to the pristine lake, with mountains framing the dark blue sky. The town square itself is completely paved, a statue of a hero on horseback rising above the central space.

But here’s the thing. All around on the pavement are painted innumerable simple, white, stylized hooded scarves, iconic, a foot or two wide. Underneath each is also painted a name and a date:  the date when the person named was “disappeared.” These are people still unaccounted for, a legacy of the time of the Generals that ended in 1994. And now, today, by sheer happenstance, four of us met there at sunset. Before us on that square were gathered perhaps a hundred and fifty women, mothers of the disappeared, dressed in black, holding hand lettered signs asking for justice. The women stood silently – though we saw a few weeping and some consoling – until just past sunset. Then they dispersed quietly. For me this was one of the most astonishingly touching display of grief and plea for closure that I have ever experienced, and it revealed a darker, a more sorrowful and a stronger face of Argentina than we had seen before.

Perhaps another list of people might bring us back to our Pategonia trip. It’s the list of all of us. We remember you all and are determined not to disappear. The names of the compadres:

Steve Jahn

Greg Sivertsen

Ray Studebaker

John Coldewey

Joe Dahlem

Bram Dally

Tom Brown

Steve Jones

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536885 2011-03-06T04:01:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z The New York Times visits Patagonia

Bahia Bustamante: Argentina’s Secret (and Private) Answer to the Galapagos

Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Bahia Bustamante combines Atlantic coastline, pastures, fields, desert and canyons. One way to see it all, and the stunning variety of wildlife there, is on horseback.

This Sunday's New York Times has a feature on Patagonia. The isolated Bahia Bustamante might be a bit of a detour from the Andes, but it looks pretty fantastic. Maybe next time?

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536883 2011-03-07T00:16:15Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Day 7: On the Road!

Day 7 – Thursday March 4: On the Road!

Our first day on the road, at last. A relatively short ride, as these things go: 40km from Bariloche to Lago Mascardi, a large beautiful lake where we expected to camp out. We didn’t get away until almost 11:30; then we threaded our way off the main road to a spectacular side road that ran across private boating and skiing clubs. We ran out of pavement after about 8km and headed up a steep gravel road that went on for 5km, then back to pavement for the remainder of the trip. Glorious weather; David and Dario – our “keepers” along with the driver Anibal from Dirty Bikes in Bariloche (who was accompanying us with the Dirty Bike trailer for the first few days) stopped and made us lunch, so we felt greatly pampered. The ride, in short, was splendid. And it was over by mid-afternoon.

We arrived at the “camping” site at Lago Mascardi to discover that we actually were sleeping in little connected cabin rooms with four bunks in each, rather than tents. There was a rudimentary restaurant serving food and drink in a lush setting. A short distance down a nearby trail lay another lake, which attracted the fly fishermen in our group (Steve, Tom, Ray, Bram). They gathered up their gear and hiked off excitedly, while the rest of us considered the afternoon or napped. No fish were caught or injured in either exercise.  

The people in charge of the camping site made us a delicious pasta dinner as the light faded. Candles appeared and we finished off the evening with an early bedtime, resting up for the second day’s ride.  

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536881 2011-03-07T14:06:09Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 8: De-lights on the Highway

Day 8 – Friday March 5: De-lights on the highway

We leave Lago Mascardi behind in the morning to start another day of just over 40km, this time to an actual campsite alongside the highway at El Foyel, a sweet little town on a hilltop. We cover the distance at a good pace and spend time unpacking tents, selecting tent sites, taking showers in a cramped and (some would say) déclassé cement shower. There’s ritual washing of jerseys and hanging them out to dry in the afternoon sun. David and Dario and Anibal make us lunch under the canopy of trees. No worries mate. And beers all around. Despite the relatively easy day, napping happens.

More beers at seven, basking in the declining sun around a table in front of our little restaurant/bar with a view that goes forever. Dinner at eight inside; during dessert we’re interrupted by a friendly local, a lean graying handsome man with overbright eyes, well in his cups. He claims to be a helicopter pilot and the owners help him fly off. For the rest of us it’s time to return to our sleeping pads in the tents. A little rocky, but we need rest for tomorrow, a big day.

During the pitch dark night the Southern Cross shines like a string of diamonds and the Milky Way swirls off into infinity. Who wouldn’t be happy to be here?

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536877 2011-03-07T15:50:12Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 9: It's a long way to Lago Epuyen

Day 9 – Saturday March 6: It’s a long way to Lago Epuyen, a long way I know

Today we cover a nominal 87km, but as it turned out, over 53 miles -- though still on pavement, making our way from El Foyel to the Hostel Lemuria near Lago Epuyen.  After breakfast and breaking camp we still get a relatively early start onto the road. At about 40km we arrive in El Bolson, the largest town in the region, where we had planned to stop for lunch. No one’s hungry enough to eat, but it’s market day in Bolson, and we spot a huge market place set up with booths selling all kinds of crafts and other goods, so we wander around marveling at stuff. The town apparently has a reputation as a kind of “hippie” town, whatever that might mean these days. Counterculture perhaps, with the occasional wafting scent of dope? In any case we all agree it’s a dandy place, but have to move on after shopping.

The road stretches on and on as the afternoon heats up, and some of the hills are miles and miles long. After a final uphill wringer through what has become ovenlike heat, we come to a 5km stretch of unpaved road, a shortcut leading down to Lago Epuyen and the pleasures of Hostel Lemuria, with sweeping grounds and clean comfortable rooms. Behind the main house is a boat about 35 feet long which has been converted into a bedroom, and the guides stay there. It is Anibal’s last day and in the morning we’ll be joined by his replacement from Dirty Bikes, Tristram – yes, a German who grew up in Argentina.

All of us are tired and we relax into the comforts of the hostel. Some try to reach the lake but it seems to recede before them, so another fishing trip is caught and released. Beerish re-hydration does occur however, and rest before another amazing meal at nine. Then another night with a clear sky. For our ride tomorrow there’s some dark talk about the beginning of gravel, the main surface of the Carretera Austral.  

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536874 2011-03-07T16:55:32Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 10: The taste of gravel

Day 10 – Sunday March 7: Plowing gravel towards Cholila

Today we got our first taste of the whip of gravel. We left Lago Epuyen mid morning and travelled for about 20-24k before we hit the unpaved section of the road. The road itself was in fact being paved, so the gravel was new and loose stretching for another 26k to our destination town Cholila. We let some air out of our tires and pressed forward, plowing through the stuff. We made it to town, exhausted and hoping that the gravel further ahead will be better packed, less treacherous.

Cholilo turns out to be a small community in the middle of a flattish plain with hills all around – but it is large enough to support a school and a tourist information center.  Hot. Dusty. Quiet. Happily, after riding around through deserted streets we discovered a parillo – a grill – that was open down at the end of one of the streets. Since we were only 2 miles from our hostel we decided to chow down right away. We were welcomed by a smiling old white-haired proprietor, Manuel Hernandez, who brought us cold beer (and cokes, yes), and put some steaks on his grill. Excellent.

So we arrived at our hotel, the Hosteria El Trebol, tired but cheerful, and we were delighted to discover that the spacious rooms had showers en-suite and faced either a central yard or looked out towards the mountains and lake. The fishermen in our midst, still undiscouraged, walked down to the lake and returned with the usual number of fish, uncaught and unreleased. Dinner at 9:00 was fabulous spaetzle goulash, one of the last dishes we expected in Patagonia; we stayed up until nearly midnight, in part because tomorrow is a rest day.

 

PS For those of you hoping for quicker postings, please remember that we’re out of wi-fi range for days at a time down here, and that the postings have to be joined to some chosen photos, which are in turn downloaded from different cameras and resized. With any luck we’ll catch up on the rest day, but we head for the countryside again on Tuesday (day 12), so have patience. Meantime, let us know if you’d like to hear about anything else we’re up to.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536871 2011-03-07T18:16:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Untitled

Wonderful photos and narrative. Thanks, Johnny and all. The gravel sounded rough and tough. Not tougher than the bikers, of course. Glad that Dr. Steve has found his people--vets without borders. Love from Seattle! p.s. Why, Janice, are you giving the mens a ration? Ja ja ja. 

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536867 2011-03-09T04:25:39Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 11: Relaxing in Cholila

Day 11 – Monday March 8: Relaxing in Cholila

So today was planned as a day of rest, but the fishermen among us and a couple of hopeful hikers decided to head to the nearby (20k) huge and beautiful Los Alerces National Park. Some of us stayed back at our splendid Hosteria El Trebol (The Shamrock). As things turned out , those who stayed were ahead. No fish were caught or released, and the taxi dropped the hikers at the wrong site. Everyone, though, seems to have had a good time.

A surprise lay in store for those who stayed. Outside on the dusty gravel road (El Trebol is about 2 miles from the town of Cholila) came the sound of hooves, and first it was a runaway horse, chased by a woman on a bicycle; then it was an entire herd of cattle, helped along by Gauchos, moving slowly along on horseback with their chaps and ropes and rebenques, or leather whips. Throughout the day the road remained a major source of interest and amusement.

Those of us who hung around the house got some work done, washing the heavy dust and grime from the bikes, taking care of laundry, or just hanging out. Late in the day the fishermen and hikers returned, and we gathered for another stunning meal cooked up for us by our 82-year old hostess.

Tomorrow is a big ride, 80km (50mi.) through the Alerces Park and all the way to Trevelen on mostly unpaved roads.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536864 2011-03-11T00:45:24Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 12: March 8: The Park, the unpaved road, beauty, and sickness stalks the crew

Day 12 – Tuesday March 8: The Park, the unpaved road, beauty, and sickness stalks the crew

Up early, around 6:00am(!), for coffee, breakfast and packing. Taxis at 8:00 take us the 20k to the park (the same beautiful Los Alerces National Park that the fishermen visited yesterday), and our guides met us with the bikes on the trailer. Our ride extended another 80k to Trevelin, and we set off from the park entrance around 9:30, making our way on the dusty and rocky gravel road. Unbelievable views of Lago Rivadavia, then Lago Verde, then Lago Menendez, and finally Lago Futalaufquen as we passed alongside them, one by one. The sequence of the lakes was broken by an hour and a half hike down to a suspension footbridge and a trail along the shores of Lago Verde. We looked down from a viewing platform and saw our first trout being caught. Not by us.

Then the riding continued in earnest. We had let air out of our tires and softened our suspension to deal with the roads, and that was a wise decision, since the going was rocky and slow, but gorgeous. After some 60k we exited the park, stopped for a mid-afternoon lunch, and arrived at a stretch of pavement where we picked up the pace. Then, at last, after 11k of rocky and gravelly downhill we arrived at our hostel, La Estancia, in Trevelin.  Joe and Greg and Dario had scooted ahead and already colonized the hostel for us, though it cost them the hike and the lunch. Reunited, we began the party again.

During the night Ray came down with chills and fever and there was great concern. Steve ministered to him like he would any sick animal and that seemed to help. All would be clear come morning.

As usual, words are inadequate to describe the scenery we are passing through, or the effort it takes to make our way through it. But both are sources of some fantastic high. Indeed, I’m adding some extra photos and a second posting with a video to help convey some of that. Note, btw, that if you use the slide show option to view the photos they will be displayed in a larger format.

Tomorrow we leave Argentina to arrive in Chile. On to Futaleufu!

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536862 2011-03-11T00:50:15Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z More photos and a video Here, as promised, further evidence of our visions...

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536859 2011-03-11T17:14:30Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 13: Westward Ho: to Chile and Futaleufu

Day 13 – Wednesday March 9: Westward Ho: Chile, Futaleufu; hey, is it windy in here or what?

And I don’t mean the blog. Today began with an excited after-breakfast rush to put fenders on the bikes because it had begun to rain in Trevelin. To everyone’s relief Ray recovered enough to give our trip to Futaleufu a go. It promised to be a relatively short ride – 54k (about 32 miles), though there would be the border control to deal with. All suited up, we left La Estancia hosteria by 10:30, setting off westward along the pitted gravel road. The scenery changed now from the blue and green glory of the lake district to more sere golden fields, farms and ranches.

The road snaked its way upwards slowly through the diminishing rain, and we took it easy. Far in the distance lay ranch houses perched on hillsides, and eventually we reached a narrow pass of sorts, a slot through the mountains, and, predictably perhaps, the headwind picked up. After some 42k we crossed a Rio Grande – very grande – and suddenly there was the border. It took longer than we anticipated to get through, facing both Argentinean and Chilean border guards. At the Chilean station we made a good friend of a border guard, Marcos, who educated us about a terrible river infestation in Chilean rivers called didymo. Dreadful stuff transferred by anything that moves from one river to the other, like fishing gear. The good news at the border was that Futaleufu was only 11k away and the road was completely paved.

Initially exuberant, we soon discovered that Chilean roads seem to be built to quite different standards than Argentinean roads. In Argentina the grades are never steep except in the national parks; here the grades simply follow the contours of the land, and that means some very serious grades. Plus the serious headwind on this road. Still, Futaleufu appeared soon enough and we moved into the little cottages of La Escondida.

The small town of Futaleufu, it turns out, is famous worldwide for kayaking and rafting on the sometimes raging Futaleufu river, still a wild and scenic and largely remote watercourse. With this news in fact, by dinnertime we had changed our plans for the following day travel.

As with the last post, I'll include some other photos in another post right away.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536856 2011-03-11T17:27:46Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 13: more photos ]]> CC tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536853 2011-03-11T18:22:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z go Johnny go

Johnny, thank you for the wonderful descriptions. Not every blog features the word "sere." Thanks for the photos, too. Spectacular landscapes! Looks and sounds like some rough riding. All kinds of gravel and elevation gain going on, going on. 

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536850 2011-03-11T18:24:00Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Patagonia Posterous Personals

 Ray, are you better? How come you didn't ride in the sag wag when you were sick? Pride goeth.  Love from Seattle. P.S. The dog wants to know whether you'll be bringing her steak. She says chorizo is okay, too. 

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536846 2011-03-12T12:22:04Z 2013-10-08T17:16:14Z Day 14: Paddles for Pedals

Day 14 – Thursday March 10: Exchanging Pedals for Paddles for a day

Greg and Joe scouted the town of Futaleufu late yesterday and made the acquaintance of an American kayak and rafting guide, Chris Spelius, who owns Expediciones Chile (http://exchile.com). Extremely personable and knowledgeable about kayaking (an Olympic kayaker in 1984; designed kayaks; pioneered river kayaking in Patagonia for over 25 years), Chris suggested that we do some serious whitewater rafting. Recent rain had just increased the flow of the Futaleufu River and it was challenging, but not impossible. In an eyeblink a tentative deal was made to raft down the class five rapids of the Futaleufu, and at dinner we decided for sure to go for it. By happy coincidence the river runs south along the route of the Carretera Austral that we were following, so we could raft for the whole day and then be close enough to our route be delivered to our next biking destination, a fishing lodge at Lake Yelcho. Within the group, because Bram’s back would not lend itself to this kind of effort, we made it a party of eight by including David (our main guide and owner of Dittmar Travel Adventures). Everyone wins!

In the morning, then, as our biking guides put our gear and bikes on the trailer to transport them to our next resting place, we headed over to Expediciones Chile to make final arrangements and meet our rafting guides. The arrangement was that eight of us would be in one raft while another rafter, Danny, who had just drifted in that morning, would go in a backup catamaran raft. Two kayaks would accompany us and scout out possible ways through the rapids. Soon we were all in a bus rattling downriver on pitted roads to the headquarters of Chris’s operation. We were given a snack, attended to wetsuit fittings, had our group picture taken, and got into the raft(s).

To describe the experience of running class V rapids is in some ways pointless, since everyone can remember a time when they were scared and excited at the same time, and this was it. No fooling around with this swift and violent water that runs 26k (16 miles). Chris’s photographer, Anna, recorded part of the trip with over 85 photographs from beside the only two bridges that spanned this section of the river, and I’m sending along a bunch of those to give some idea of what it looked like from afar. From inside the raft, tension rose a high pitch every time we approached a set of rapids. In all there must have been 35 to 40 rapids that we negotiated, with names like “Terminator,” “Kyber Pass,” “Last Wave is a Rock,” or “Condor.” Through all of it our pilot Josh barked directions for us to paddle. Simple directions like “Forward,” “Stop,” “Back,” “Left Back,” and such took on huge consequences in the crashing roar of the water. Also, it was outrageous fun and every one of us would do it again in a heartbeat.

We arrived at the final stretch of slack water completely spent and soaked; we helped carry the boats up the bank to a waiting trailer, got back into some dry clothes, and were driven for two hours in driving rain to Lake Yelcho Lodge arriving in time for dinner. We have two days of rest before us, and everyone is ready for that.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536907 2011-03-12T12:34:18Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Day 14: More rafting photos ]]> CC tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536906 2011-03-14T21:44:15Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Days 15 & 16

Days 15 & 16 – Friday and Saturday March 11 & 12: R & R at Yelcho Fishing Lodge Slow days both, resting from the whitewater rafting and preparing for the next days of riding. On Friday we did little but get our gear sorted and dry ourselves out. It was windy and rainy, but still a few in our party tried fishing – with some success: a bunch of small rainbows that they tossed right back into the lake. Others went for a hike but couldn’t find the proper trailhead. Our guides started work on the bikes, getting rid of grit and lubing the drivetrains. Lake Yelcho Lodge (LakeYelcho.com) has a large main lodge and perhaps seven or eight self-catering cabins. We divided the group into four people apiece in two cabins and our three guides in a third. Each place has splendid views out over the lake, wood stoves for heating the large living space, kitchens and decks for lounging in good weather. We all eat breakfast and dinner in the main lodge, with its high beamed ceilings and lovely space with couches and a bar. Luxury compared with what we’ve grown accustomed to. The evening of our first day here brought us to the main lodge bar, waiting for dinner to start. We met two fishermen from Colorado, one of whom was a fishing guide and has been coming here for about 15 years. This day they both had caught rainbow trout as big as large salmon: the biggest weighed 22kg (over 45 lbs.). Of course there were photos. In the picture the guide holds the fish sideways towards the camera, and it stretched nearly three feet long. They released both fish. Maybe they have a date for next year? The eyes of our guide Tikka, also an avid fisherman, were out on stalks. Our second day at Lake Yelcho involved an afternoon trip to the Parque Pumelin, some twenty-five miles north of the lake. We hiked a beautiful trail through the forests and gawked at hanging glaciers we could see far up on a volcano. The vegetation is dense and lush, and the most outstanding plants are the gunnera with their gigantic leaves, some easily six feet across. And there are vined fuchsias that cover the trunks of trees like English Ivy. As it turns out, crossing the Andes from Bariloche brought us to a really different microclimate.
At the end of the hike we traveled up a long side road that led to a huge hot spring, where we jumped in for a true spa finish. Tomorrow it’s off on a fairly serious day of riding – between 80 and 95k on gravel, so we’ll need to be rested.

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536905 2011-03-15T15:36:45Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Days 14 and 15

Days 15 & 16 – Friday and Saturday March 11 & 12: R & R at Yelcho Fishing Lodge

Slow days both, resting from the whitewater rafting and preparing for the next days of riding. On Friday we did little but get our gear sorted and dry ourselves out. It was windy and rainy, but still a few in our party tried fishing – with some success:  a bunch of small rainbows that they tossed right back into the lake. Others went for a hike but couldn’t find the proper trailhead. Our guides started work on the bikes, getting rid of grit and lubing the drivetrains.

Lake Yelcho Lodge (LakeYelcho.com) has a large main lodge and perhaps seven or eight self-catering cabins. We divided the group into four people apiece in two cabins and our three guides in a third. Each place has splendid views out over the lake, wood stoves for heating the large living space, kitchens and decks for lounging in good weather. We all eat breakfast and dinner in the main lodge, with its high beamed ceilings and lovely space with couches and a bar. Luxury compared with what we’ve grown accustomed to.

The evening of our first day here brought us to the main lodge bar, waiting for dinner to start. We met two fishermen from Colorado, one of whom was a fishing guide and has been coming here for about 15 years. This day they both had caught rainbow trout as big as large salmon: the biggest weighed 22kg (over 45 lbs.). Of course there were photos. In the picture the guide holds the fish sideways towards the camera, and it stretched nearly three feet long. They released both fish. Maybe they have a date for next year? The eyes of our guide Tikka, also an avid fisherman, were out on stalks.

Our second day at Lake Yelcho involved an afternoon trip to the Parque Pumelin, some twenty-five miles north of the lake. We hiked a beautiful trail through the forests and gawked at hanging glaciers we could see far up on a volcano. The vegetation is dense and lush, and the most outstanding plants are the Gunnera with their gigantic leaves, some easily six feet across. And there are vined fuchsias that cover the trunks of trees like English Ivy. As it turns out, crossing the Andes from Bariloche brought us into a really different microclimate.

 At the end of the hike we traveled up a long side road that led to a huge hot spring, where we jumped in for a true spa finish.

Tomorrow it’s off on a fairly serious day of riding – between 80 and 95k on gravel, so we’ll need to be rested.

PS. This on Tuesday morning: we have been far from any internet connection for three days, and this one is very slow. Hope it makes it!

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tag:patagonia2011.posthaven.com,2013:Post/536904 2011-03-16T21:23:05Z 2013-10-08T17:16:15Z Day 17: Long road to La Junta

Days 17 – Saturday March 13: The long road to La Junta

We began early, screaming down a steep grade into Santa Lucia, 70km from La Junta, where we thought our next night’s stay was located. Later we were to be disabused of that notion. In the meantime the road was unpaved but reasonably well-graded; the weather was cool but not raining, and we made steady progress along relatively flat terrain. Winding its way along a river valley, the road dipped and rolled with the scenery, with mountains ranging off in the distance and forested foothills on either side. Two dogs from Santa Lucia – a large brindle and a small terrier – followed us for miles, happily running alongside the bikes. Oddly, towards the end the larger dog seemed exhausted while the little guy kept scampering gamely on short legs. On our entire trip we have yet to meet an unfriendly dog. 

Two or three hours into the ride, near the top of a long dusty grade, we came across a small tin-roofed cabin with a fenced yard and a sign proclaiming “Fundo Violeta” and another one promising “English spoken here.” There were chickens in the yard and cats on the porch. Otherwise it seemed deserted and we stopped if only to get a picture. But as we approached we heard music blaring from inside, so we mounted the steps and knocked. The door was opened by Violeta herself, a welcoming woman with plenty of frizzy black hair that she unsuccessfully tried to secure in an unruly bun. Clearly she lived alone in the small cabin, sleeping on a narrow cot near the stove. As our party arrived by bike and truck and trailer we all piled inside for some fresh Nescafe, the perfect cheerful late morning break. Forty five minutes later we left in a great mood. From Violeta’s, by the way, I’m sending a picture of Tom trying on a hat in his continuing search for the perfect one.

So time passed and we pedaled on; about 30km outside of La Junta we took a short break for lunch, and as we stood eating our sandwiches and drinking the mysterious blue fluid supplied by our guides, we spied a couple of bicycle riders approaching from the opposite direction. The first, a woman, passed by without stopping, but the young man a few hundred yards back pulled up to chat. He was Israeli, like Danny who came on our rafting trip, and he was traveling for six months through South America by bike. I noticed that he was really thin (who wouldn’t be, pedaling with that load), and as we talked he kept eying our slices of ham and cheese intently. Early on someone offered him and olive, which he snapped up, but I could see that he kept watching the tray with unusual interest. Then the food was gone; we said goodbye, he pedaled away and we pressed on.

After what seemed like a long time later the road began to climb in a more pronounced fashion, and finally, after a long downhill and a quick shot across a new orange bridge, we arrived at the edge of the village of La Junta. Alas, there was bad news:  our hostel, La Suena, still lay 16km away, off on a side road. So we pressed forward again, passing the spectacular scenery of Lake Rossilot until we came to a small stony lane leading upwards to the left. This was it: the sting in the end of the ride’s tail. We groaned our way steeply upward (too steep to haul the trailer) a little over a kilometer to find a strangely Alpine scene:  a meadow set on a shelf overlooking a river valley and surrounded by towering snowcapped peaks. Here was the farmhouse of La Suena, a farm covering thousands of hectares, mostly still wooded. The celebratory beer was delivered to the sunny deck where we basked in wonder.

There were sheep and cows in the fields around, and a couple horses, plus a vast chicken coop and a greenhouse. The place was clearly self-sufficient. Just down from the main house was a structure that had windows looking out over the valley below and, inside, a huge cement-lined fire pit with a metal hood perhaps seven feet wide and five feet deep. A long table with benches on either side sat next to the windows. This was where supper was to be prepared and eaten, and we watched as our host spitted huge pieces of lamb and began to roast them over the fire. Hours later – at 9:00 – we began our most memorable feast so far. Fresh lamb, done to perfection, with all the trimmings.

Finally we retired, greasy-faced and smiling. This had been our longest day so far:  93km. And we’d need our rest for the next day’s ride, which was now 16km longer than we had anticipated.

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