(November 28 – written by “10K Dave”)
It was hard leaving Coyhaique this morning – we enjoyed the break and know that some of the things we found there, like good coffee, will be harder to find for the next few weeks. Having said that, another morning with blue skies was pretty inviting for a bike ride. The mountains surrounding Coyhaique were visible and in fact, we had gorgeous snow capped mountains in just about every direction all day long. Perhaps the whole upper half of Carretera Austral would have been that way had we not had so much rain. The nice thing about the rain is that we really appreciated today – one wow moment after another.
We had a good deal of climbing today for such a short ride. In fact, the profile looked mostly uphill all day. We could see one little downhill but it was hard to tell how long it was on our blurry printout of the current 120k section of the CA that we are riding. One thing we hadn’t planned on was such a strong tailwind – from kilometres 24 to 34 we hit the downhill section, and had a ripper tailwind. We covered those 10k in about 20 minutes. All the while, not saying anything to each other about the wind, as talking about a tailwind openly is the one sure way to earn you a change in wind direction.
We made on brief stop at the junction to Balmaceda. We turned right here and I had feared that the wind was going to become a strong sidewind. I needn’t have worried as the mountains continued to funnel the wind more or less behind us. We made steady progress even though it was all uphill we arrived at Laguna Chiguay just little past noon. As we reached the lake we met another cycling couple – Sarah and Joe – from the UK. They are on a 1.5 year general travel trip but they decided to spend their last couple months cycling the CA. We saw them in Coyhaique but didn’t get the chance to introduce ourselves. They had spent the night in a little village south of Coyhaique and were riding onto Villa Cerro Castillo today but I’m sure that we’ll see more of them down the road.
We went back and forth about pushing onto Villa Cerro Castillo or staying at the Laguna Chiguay. We have mapped out days from here to the bottom and didn’t need to push on but it was early in the day still and pushing on is in our DNA. What to do but eat? We found a campsite, ate lunch and contemplated our next move.
We chose to stay at Laguna Chiguay.
The lake is not super scenic but the campground is great. Each site has its own small hut where you can get out of the rain (rain is forecast for tomorrow) and all of the sites except one were empty. We picked out a site with the biggest hut. It is so big that we could rearrange the sleeping platforms, et the sleeping bag up and not have to put up the tent. Plus, we can get our bikes and all of our gear inside. The hut isn’t heated but it feels pretty cosy.
And while it is a rugged campground, it does come with a hot shower if you are willing to make your own fire. In the toilet block they have a special wood stove water heater. Who could resist that? Of course I got the stove going and piled the wood in it. Nancy got the first shower and took a quick one so I’d have hot water. She needn’t have hurried as I had a nice long leisurely hot shower myself. How good is that, a wilderness campground and you get a hot shower?
It has started to cloud up a bit this arvo but we’ve got everything in the hut and we’re ready if it rains. And no matter what happens, we won’t have to put a wet tent away in the morning.
Tomorrow we have a short day planned and hope to get a proper look at Cerro Castillo. The one risk of stopping here today is that the clouds obscure this semi-famous peak from our view tomorrow morning as we ride past it. We saw the north side of it today from the distance but the views of the south are much closer and it is supposed to be very impressive. Fingers crossed that it works out tomorrow.
We are aiming for a camp site tomorrow that is 10k past Villa Cero Castillo. If the weather is really bad, we’ll stop at the village instead. Tomorrow is the last day with rain forecast for some time but then again, we are in Patagonia and you never know what you might get from minute to minute. And the weather forecasters don’t seem to spot on in their forecasts. At least today we had an entire morning of beautiful blue skies so whatever comes tomorrow, we’ll not be complaining – too much.