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End of the road –Lago Escondido to Ushuaia (66k/26,982k/2,600ft)

(January 7, written by Dave and Nancy)

The End

ushuaia - the sign 1

The sign – we made it – Fin del Mundo

Fin del Mundo.  Fin del Ruta.  Fin our tired legs!

What a day.  Sometimes, highly anticipated days fail to live up to the hype.  Today, hype was exceeded!

The day started late last night when someone moved into the cabana next to ours around 11PM and proceeded to rummage around outside getting a fire started.  They were more or less quiet but it is all a little unsettling when you are sleeping in a group of abandoned buildings.  Your paranoid mind jumps straight to axe murderer, crackhead, escaped con, etc.  We didn’t meet the new neighbours this morning but really, last night they were pretty quiet and considerate (Senior editor’s note – actually, I don’t think Dave would have even known they were there if I hadn’t woken him up.  He went right back to sleep, snoring away while I stood on guard to defend our cabana.  The neighbours probably thought we were inconsiderate and loud given the amount of snoring coming from inside!).  And this morning in addition to their tent in the cabana front room, they put a coke bottle full of fresh picked wild flowers in their window.  Sure, the average axe murderer picks fresh wild flowers and puts them in the front window.  Happens all the time.

We were up early, not because we had a long day but more because we wanted to be able to ride slow and take everything in.  We had mostly clear skies but boy was it cold.  It was 4k back out of the cabanas to the highway and then 6k uphill to the top of the pass.  On the climb my thermometer consistently read 1 degrees C – or about 34F – it was particularly cold in the shadows where the sun hadn’t yet come over the surrounding hills.  Even climbing, we both had really cold hands.

lago escondido 1

Our cabana – not a bad view

lago escondido 2

Views from the deck – not bad for an abandoned building

lago escondido 3

One more….

The clear skies made for nice views of the lake from the cabana and out on the climb.  They’ve built a very impressive mirador (viewpoint) at the top of the pass.  While it was breezy up there, it was nice to stop for photos in the sun – and capture our last official summit sign.  We ran into Marcus (the rider we met in Tolhuin) when we reached Ushuaia today.  He came over the pass yesterday in snow and limited visibility so our decision to stay below the pass in the cabanas worked out to be a good one.  The storm that tried blowing the window out of our cabana yesterday must have been even worse up on the pass.

lago escondido from above 1

Lago Escondido

lago escondido from above 2

Lago Escondido again

our cabin, second from top

Our cabana is second from the top – looking back down from the pass

lago escondido from above 3

Lagos Escondido and Fagnano 

lago escondido from above 6

Lago Escondido and Fagnano

the climb 1

On the climb

the climb 2 (2)

Looking back at the climb – it was not that bad actually

the climb 2

Looking up at the pass

the pass sign

Our last pass

It was super cold riding off the pass but the sun was high enough to be hitting the full road so at least we weren’t freezing.  We were well and truly back in the mountains now.  We’d read that the Andes officially end on Tierra del Fuego but after the last week of riding the northern steppe, we were starting to wonder if we’d somehow missed the ending.

mountains at the top

At the summit

nice mirrador

The viewpoint

nancy cresting the last hill

Nancy cresting the last summit

From the pass there is a downhill, followed by a long gradual uphill valley, before the final descent down into Ushuaia.  In the valley there a couple lodges and ski hills.  We stopped at one of the ski hills for a warming coffee and morning tea.  I don’t think that my thermometer ever got over 10C throughout the day, even sitting in the sun at the ski lodge.  There were some clouds about by then, but we stayed dry all the way to town.

mountains in summit valley 1

Mountains again – yeah

mountains in summit valley 3

And more

mountains in summit valley 2

The summit meadow and more mountains

skiing

Ski country

mountains in summit valley 4

Close up

mountains in summit valley 5

One more shot of The Andes

There are a couple Ushuaia signs, one on the edge of town and the famous ‘Fin del Mundo’ one down on the waterfront.  We stopped for photos at both of them.  The waterfront sign was pretty crowded but we waited 20 months for this photo so a few extra minutes waiting for a clear picture was no big deal to us.  Hugs and high-fives all around – we made it.

mountains over ushuaia

At the top of the last downhill, we could see the mountains beyond Ushuaia

ushuaia - made it

9k from town there is a police checkpoint/gate

ushuaia

They have everything here

20 months, 27,000k, 16,800 miles, 15 countries – woohoo!

We retired from the waterfront sign to a well known bakery called Ramos Generales.  We’d heard that they happen to serve one of the local IPAs so we started our meal with the celebratory clinking of cold glasses.  Normal food and coffees followed of course.

ushuaia - the sign 3

Yup, that’s it!

amber celebrations

Cheers mate, we did it!

It was 1.2k from the waterfront to our AirB&B – almost all of it is uphill, and I mean uphill.  It was a 1st gear grunt most of the way.  With Nancy registering 22% on her bike computer, it might have been one of the steepest hills of the entire trip.  It was hard but not that big of deal because like the photo at the sign, we’d been training the last 20 months for that climb – as they say, “easy peasy.”

It’s surreal being here.  There is no more road, nowhere left to ride (well, okay, technically the road goes on for a little bit further but only to the National Park).  We could turn around and ride back (Senior editor’s note – no we couldn’t) but honestly, we are both ready for a break from our break.  On balance it was a great trip – we had heaps more highlights than we had lowlights.  We met so many nice people.  In fact, we met nice people just about every day of the trip.  Lots of people have commented how amazing it is to ride that far but if anything, we are ordinary people, not athletes.  You just have to be determined and not give up.  When one person gets down, the other pulls them up.  As they say “Teamwork makes the dream work” – no wait, that not what they say, that’s what I say!  Oh well, it’s true.

We will post more summary thoughts, stats and thoughts of Ushuaia over the next few weeks.  The trip doesn’t officially end until we fly back to the USA on Friday.  And who knows, if TSA isn’t working by then, maybe the trip will last even a few days beyond that.

Thanks for reading – it does make a difference to know you are all out there.  And finally, thanks to all of the cyclists we were lucky to ride with along the way – the sense of camaraderie that you get with other cyclists gave us such a boost and reminded us of why we were doing this trip after all:

– Mark and Chris, who started out with us in Fairbanks and eased the panic of setting off on the journey.  We carried one of Mark’s freeze dried meals as our emergency meal for the entire trip.

– Andy and Anna, who provided some family fun through Oregon – there’s nothing like hanging out with your big brother and your supercool niece after a long bike ride.

– Pete, who we rode with in California and Nevada and with whom Dave regressed back to junior high age with all of the jokes that go along with it

– Jack, who we met on a bike path in Santa Clarita, CA in September 2017.  We were a bit lost.  Jack rode 50 miles out of his way to help us get and stay on course for the day.  And who later turned into one of our most encouraging readers.

– Frederick, who we met just before Yosemite and ended up riding with for much of Baja California, and who kept us going with such a positive attitude (and a very funny story about Australian board shorts).

– Manja and Martin, who we met in La Paz Mexico and several times thereafter in South America and whose frequent WhatsApp chats and pictures made our days feel less lonely.  We wished we could have spent more face-to-face time with them and are watching anxiously for them to finish in here in Ushuaia in a few weeks.

– Philipp and Tine, the cyclists from Germany that we met first in Ecuador and then again on our first stop in Peru and ended up riding with for all of Peru and into Bolivia.  We had such a great time riding with them, sharing stories (and occasional much-appreciated pushes) to ease the pain of the climbs up the Peruvian Andes.

– Andi from Germany, who we rode with for a few weeks in Peru, part of the Phillip and Tine team.  He went on to be a great advance scout for us in Chile.

– Sarah and Joe, who we met and rode with on the Carretera Austral.  Two very brave cycle touring novices on slightly inappropriate bikes that managed to complete the CA – proving that attitude and determination is really all you need.

– Sarah and Andy, whom we first met in Carhuaz, Peru.  We saw them a few more times before finally teaming up for the Villa O’Higgins hike-a-bike and then few more days in the south.  Tackling the hike-a-bike with them will go down in LWOP annuals as one of the best “teamwork makes the dream work” moments of the entire trip.

We have likely forgotten to mention others that we ran into but this post is already too long so we’ll stop there.  We’ll post an update before we leave Ushuaia but only after we get the hard work of culling all of our worn out gear and packing the bikes up done!

56 responses to “End of the road –Lago Escondido to Ushuaia (66k/26,982k/2,600ft)

  1. Congrats on getting to Ushuaia! It was wonderfull following you in the blogs! Thank you and enjoy the last days of this amazing trip!
    Arjan and Els

  2. WOW..what an accomplishment..glad you made it safe and sound! I will miss your blog so much as I looked forward daily to reading of your wonderful adventures. I intend to stay tuned for your next great ride and in the mean time I will be reading all your past adventures!!

  3. Congratulations you guys! A big achievement! Savour the moment and enjoy the IPA. 🙂

  4. Serious congrats guys! Mart and I have loved following along and will doubtless bombard you with questions before we head to Rio in the autumn. Enjoy the feeling, awesome trip.

  5. Congratulation! That is quite an accomplishment!

  6. Congrats on your ride and the great finish, now to the sad part I have read your blogs from the start, I am going to miss your excellent pictures and ride descriptions, as a touring cyclist it makes me want to start a new trip soon. Enjoy the IPA, you’ve earned it.

  7. Wow, wow, wow! Amazing, you guys! Lucky for me that we crossed paths in La Paz so that I could follow the rest of your journey. Take care and rest up… and let us know if any of your further adventures take you near Camas. 🙂

  8. Nothing less than astounding! A huge cheer for the two of you!

  9. The photos of the lakes today are really tops.

  10. I’m behind a few months on reading your postings but Carol (and your daily emails) have kept me apprised of your progress. Well done. But since you need a bit of exercise, I encourage you to truly ride into the national park to the very end of the road – hey, you’re that close! – so you can both say you did it and enjoy the scenery. Okay, you’ve seen and photographed a hell of a lot of beautiful over the last two years but this is your last chance!

    Ken

  11. Congratulations on finishing an EPIC adventure. Through reading your daily blog I too was able to travel with you. The terrain was a lot different in the last few days. If you have time please visit us Hood River, would love to hear more about your adventure. Safe trip back to Oregon.

  12. WOW, WOW, WOW! (repeating Cassie, must be a Camas thing :))
    HUGE CONGRATULATIONS are in order for the two of you. You two have lived the dream and I am envious. Take the load off those bikes and get some much deserved rest.

  13. Well done we are ALL SO HAPPY FOR YOU, LOVE, MOM

  14. Amazing feat, you both should be very proud. So what’s next? You can’t leave all your readers without something to look forward to everyday, we’d be terribly bored.

  15. YIPPEE!! Congratulations! Such a fantastic accomplishment! Can hardly wait ’til Saturday!! We will be there with balloons!

  16. Congratulations! I’m happy for you two! See you in Nevada.

  17. I never doubted that you guys would make it, still an amazing accomplishment! Congrats and l’m looking forward to seeing you some time this year…
    Bike Gallery has their overhaul special going, it would be funny for you to roll yours in letting them know you need your 26,982k tune-up!

  18. A high five congratulations to ya’ll. Thank you so much for the adventure of learning with geography, foods, nature, current state of affairs and comaraderie along the way. Enjoy your accomplishment!

  19. Dave & Nancy:
    I certainly feel like an invisible observer of your travels. You do not know me and I am not even sure how I picked up following your blog but I have been fascinated by it for months.

    In my twenties I traveled a year around Europe and wish I had blogged in more detail but I definitely relived the freedom and excitement of each day through your blogs. I am a cyclist (triathlete) so definitely also identified with your bike situations.
    So I just wanted to thank you for allowing me (and I am sure many others) to travel along with you and to share your wonderful photos. As a professional photographer, I was impressed with subject choice, composition and exposure. They were a pleasure to look at!!
    If you find yourself in the Los Angeles area and need help or a place to crash – please contact me as I feel as if I know you guys!! demskyellen@hotmail.com. Best of luck in getting settled down to a “normal” life and congrats on doing a journey many only dream of. Ellen Demsky

  20. Dave, Nancy, so very life affirming. Thank you.

  21. You know what I’m going to miss most … the flower pictures just for me. Congratulations! Inge and I can’t wait to see you when you get down to Nevada.

  22. Wow, congratulations both, a huge achievement! I’m going to miss your posts on my morning commute. Really just incredible to think you’ve crossed the globe under your own steam, and saving all those carbon emissions too 😊 The 20 months has gone fast, at least from the comfort of Sydney!

    • Thanks Ian and sorry, I just realised this comment was still in the pending box! There are days when it feels like we just left and other days when it feels like it has been years since we left Sydney (and I guess it has!). I hope you are busy saving more emissions every day!

  23. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your adventure. Through you I visited places that otherwise would never be seen. The descriptions and photos were always refreshing, informative, and often humorous. The strength of your partnership was on display all the time.
    In spite of whatever ordeal was before you or how tired you might be, the daily summary was created for your family and friends to enjoy. This evening I will open champagne and toast Dave and Nancy.

  24. Ever since you guys were here in San Diego I have followed your adventure.
    If I were younger it would be a great thing to do but I felt JI was riding along
    with you both. Congratulations and I will miss you. Joyce

  25. Thank you.

  26. Absolutely phenomenal! Congrats! I am going to miss this. But someday I know you may do it again. Looking forward to your next adventure.

  27. Congratulations! What a wonderful, funny and emotional „last“ blog. We are so happy for you. You have done such an amazing trip. You have always been motivation to us. It’s unbelievable how you have done all this sightseeing after a long cycling day. It‘s been great that we have met and kept in touch throughout all this time. We will miss you, beeing ahead! All the best. Rockstars! Kisses and hugs Manja & Martin

    • M&M – so glad that we could share the journey with you. Every time you sent Nancy a message, her day brightened up. Some how, you got here just at the right moment so many times. We will see you again and are looking forward to your big day in Ushuaia.

  28. Congrats! What a wild, yet amazing ride.

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