(December 1 – written by “10K Dave”)
More blue, more smiles, another great day – life is good.
We came over a pass yesterday and rode down a river to where we camped last night. Today we continued down that river to Largo General Carrera. I sort of assumed that today’s views would be more of the river valley and not have so many mountains. Well, that’s not how Patagonia rolls on a sunny blue sky day. Gorgeous mountains continued throughout our short ride today. Before we were able to work our way past one mountain, the next one would start to peek around the corner. And yes, we had almost totally blue skies. The camera got a workout today again.
We were up early, before the sun made it over the hill to our camp. My thermometer read 2 degrees C – it was pretty close to freezing. We shivered through brekkie and started to pack up. By then, the sun was working its way across the valley floor. We moved 50 metres across the campsite to get the tent dried out and us warmed up. It worked the treat as we lingered over the tent and chatted with Joe and Sarah. We didn’t leave camp until 9AM – I know shock – for us at least.
The views leaving the camp in both directions were mountains –this would become our theme for the day. The road surface was not great. We’d heard that the road surface neat Rio Tranquilo was poor, but the poorness started at kilometre zero. It took us over 4 hours total time to cover 39k. That’s pretty slow even with all the photo stops. We just couldn’t go very fast on the gravel, bumpy road.
Oh well, it was a short day and the views were more than distracting. The first part of the ride was about the river, lupine and mountains. The second part of the ride was about Lago General Carrera. This lake is the largest lake in Chile – we’ll ride along side it for the next day and a half. The lake is rimmed by more stunning Chilean mountain ranges. And the lake is such a remarkable colour blue that it is hard to describe. We stopped at a few viewpoints but really, you could stop just about anywhere as the road hugged the shoreline cliffs all the way to Rio Tranquilo.
The road surface continued to be a challenge. It was particularly bad in the corners when the banks and loose gravel gave use the feeling that our wheels would slide out at any second. They didn’t but it was an edgy ride at times.
There were a couple steep pitches as well. They were tough in the gravel, combined with hidden crests and the potential of oncoming traffic. There were some cars and trucks out today – maybe more than we’ve seen in a while. They were mostly polite but some seemed thrilled to be giving us a proper dusting – these yabos didn’t slow much. The steepest of the pitches was paved with cobblestones. It would have been unrideable if it wasn’t. We rode the entire beast, with Nancy recording a stunning 19% grade for the hardest part – youza.
We rolled into town about 1PM – later than we thought we would. Sometimes that happens on a short day. This is an expensive little town but we found a cabana – Cabana Patagona Explorador – that was not overly spendy. We have booked in here for two nights. We need a break to get clothes cleaned, bikes adjusted/checked and a chance to just rest our legs. CA is a tough ride.
We’ve already tried out the one restaurant that is noted for “being the only redeeming” joint in town. I’m sure that there are others on offer but the town only has 500 residents so there isn’t much to it. We should be able to walk every street tomorrow, before noon.
Network connectivity has been difficult the past four days – as in none. We have Movistar service on our phone and it appears that, despite their published coverage map, they don’t do well on service down south as we have had no service since leaving Coyhaique (Entel seems to be the go, so we may try to switch carriers once we get to the next town). When we ride on Monday, we have another two days and a campsite where we’ll face the same situation. It’s interesting being off the grid but also nice. Getting no news of the world lets us focus on the mountains standing in front of us. And it gives us perspective, more time to contemplate, less time to worry – we like it. So, after 4 posts today, there might not be one for a few days – we’ll see…