Sunday, December 31, 2023

12/31-Finishing Out the Year in Caleta Tortel

My tent was apparently on the slug highway, as there were slug tracks left behind on my tent, in my shoes, and even on Billy’s handlebar! Yuck!

Today was a short day of just 23kms to Caleta Tortel. Tortel is 22kms off the Carratera. 

We looked for a sticker from Matt, but there wasn’t one. 

The way to Tortel was pretty flat, except at the end. We were back to following our friend, the Rio Baker. It’s really wide now!

Still has that glacial color, but definitely no longer the turquoise color of the headwaters. 

We arrived in Tortel shortly after 11:00. 

The unique thing about Tortel is that the majority of the town is accessed by wooden walkways. There is one road that ends at the plaza. There are a few things along the road, like the gas station (duh) and the mini-mercado. Alex and Markus managed to get us a cabaña not too many stairs down.

Some of the stairs we had to go down. Markus was so nice to take my bike for me. 

At least we didn’t have to go down there. Can you imagine how strong you would be if you had to do these stairs everyday?

The view from the window in our cabaña. 

See the walkway around the point?

We had to wait a bit for it to be cleaned. We did our resupply while we waited. The offerings are kind of slim, but I didn’t need a whole lot anyway. We have four days until Villa O’Higgins. We might try to do it in three. Rain is coming. 

12/30-Second Breakfast, Paw Patrol, and Hoof Patrol

We were on the road at our usual time of just before 9:00. I knew we would be passing the 1000km mark today, so I was on the lookout for the sign. Just a couple kms in, I saw this. 

Well, it wasn’t exactly 1000kms, but there wasn’t a sign for it. This would have to do. Billy got his photo too. 

The road surface was a little bit better today. At least there were sections where it was really nice. We had a nice flowy downhill to a bridge across a river. 

Can’t remember the name of the river. We’ve crossed quite a few. 

After a few ups and downs, things really flattened out. We were cruising along when we came to a camping place called  El Risquero. They also served food, “Desayuno Completo”. We decided, why not? Second breakfast is always nice. When we walked in, the señora’s grandson was watching Paw Patrol on TV. He looked to be about 7 or 8. He goes to school in Cochrane. He boards at school during the week, then comes home on the weekends. Of course, now it is school holidays. The breakfast was good. We had huevos, queso, pan, sopapilla, coffee (Alex and Markus), and Milo (me), all while watching Paw Patrol dubbed in Spanish. 

After we finished, we returned to our bikes and encountered a “Hoof Patrol”. 

Lamb, colt (or maybe filly), and goat. 

The baby horse had lost its mother. 

The goat was communing with Billy (I mean, of course…Billy Goat).

Selfie…look the baby even smiled!

“Hey, watch’s got here?”

“Scratching my face on this thing feels good!”

So sweet! Could have spent all day playing with the baby! Alas, we had more kilometers to go. 

The road continued to be more flat than hilly, until we were getting close to our destination. It seems like we are getting more I to the mountains. 

Nice waterfall. 

Not sure if this is the Rio Baker yet. We will be back to it at some point. 

This could be the Rio Baker as it is quite large. 

Markus up ahead. Alex was ahead of him, riding to some tunes. 

We planned to wild camp at a spot near the junction to Caleta Tortel, which we will go to tomorrow. We are just a couple hundred meters from the turn, at a spot on the river, away from the road. Today was just 42.9kms, but we were all a bit tired from yesterday. Plus, this is a nice spot. 

It’s a little bit rainy, but almost more of a light mist. 

We are here in the deeeeep backcountry of Chile, along the wild river…

Markus prepares another spoon for carving. Backcountry woodworking at its finest. 

But wait! What is that? Oh, it’s a cell tower…not so deeeep in the backcountry afterall. 

12/29-Rattle Dem Bones!

We did it! We left Cochrane! Gertie is all better, and it was time to go. On our way out of town, we saw the mom and son of the family we met at dinner last night. They are from Santiago, but spoke English really well. Three kids, 11, 8, and 4 all spoke English. 

Lucky us, the pavement continued for the first climb, about 8km out of town. 

It was a good opportunity to get used to having the flat pedal on the right side. By the way, Billy is a little embarrassed about his pedals not matching. I’m sure he’ll get used to it. I’m not so sure if I will! I am glad that I kept the left clipless pedal on, though. My bike shoes don’t grip the flat pedal all that great, so at least one foot is secure. 

At the top of the first climb, the road went back to gravel. 

Ahhh pavement, you were nice while you lasted. 

Unfortunately, the gravel was really washboarded. Pretty much the entire day was a lot of washboard. If you had any loose fillings, you would have rattled them out. Even with the suspension, it was a full day of rattling the bones! And yet, we did 62kms (we only planned about 55, but more about that later).

We rode along, and by several lakes today. 

I can’t remember what this one was called. You can see the road along the lake. 

We also had numerous climbs. As for the wind, well, as Alex said, “The wind is broken.” Yes, it was mostly a headwind. At least on the climbs, the hills blocked a bit of the wind. I some respects, having the wind was good. Without it, it would have been really hot, and the biting flies would have been even more annoying. Honestly, the wind didn’t bother me nearly as much as the washboard. 

A few kms short of 30, we came across this camping/comida place. It was in the middle of nowhere. 

Inside, it was quite homey. 

Alex and Markus had giant cups of coffee. I had Fanta. The woman said we could eat our lunch there too. She didn’t have much food for sale, because they hadn’t been restocked yet after Christmas. It was nice to get out of the wind. 

We were more than halfway, and about halfway done with the climbing. 

San Sebastian, the patron saint of fishermen. 

We finally reached the highest point for the day. 

Going down now!

Nice view of the mountains. 

The downhill was spectacular!

Going all the way down!

Still going down!

We crossed a river. 

We had the option to go 3kms off the Carratera to a campground, but we decided to continue on to a wild camp spot that was on iOverlander. It was not too much further. Well, we got to it, and we’re not impressed. There were to dog biting flies, and the access to the river wasn’t good. We decided to go on, and see if we could find a better place. We looked at a spot across the river, but there was a gate. There was another iOverlander spot about 4 or 5kms away. We decided to head for that, keeping our eyes open for a good spot. We stopped at one spot where the campsite wasn’t good, but there was good water. We filled up the dromedary bags, and carried them on the bikes for the last 3kms to the iOverlander wild camp spot. Nothing like adding 6kg at the end of the day. And, there was another climb. It wasn’t too bad though. We found the spot. It’s kind of funky, with old machinery and old tires laying around, but it’ll do. We have easy access to the river (so we didn’t need to carry water), and we are off the road. 

The wind was still blowing, and there are the flies, but we managed. As I am writing this in my tent, the wind has died down considerably. It’s 10:00pm, and still light out. Since we did an extra 7kms today, we’ll have a shorter day (it was already going to be shorter) tomorrow. Here’s one final shot for today. 

Goodnight from Patagonia. 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

12/28-A Little Hike in Borrowed Shoes

One of the things I’m regretting not bringing is another pair of shoes. I have my Berkies, and they’re great for camp, and most everything else off the bike…except hiking. And my bike shoes just aren’t great for hiking a challenging trail. Enter Alex’s Altras! This morning, I asked Alex what size shoe she wears. She said a 40. Oh, that’s too small. But, she suggested I try them on. Lo and behold, they fit! Turns out they are actually a 42!

Woo Hoo! The only sad part is that Alex wasn’t going on the hike, but it was better for Gertie that she not hike. 

Markus and I rode the short distance to Patagonia National Park and Tamango Campground. There are a few trails. We did the shortest one which was a tiny bit over 10km. We had to pay an entrance fee. Because I’m old, I only had to pay half the fee, 5500clp. Markus had to pay 11,000clp. If I was a Chilean National, it would have been free for me. 

With our day passes in hand, we started up the trail. 

While I was waiting to register, I saw this bird, and her babies. 

The trailhead. 

Rio Cochrane, and where we started from. If you look closely, you can see our bikes. 

Good trail going up up up. 

We met a couple from Holland. 

Pretty Lily-looking flower. 

Cochrane. In the center of the photo is where our cabaña is. 

Some pretty high peaks over there. 

And now for some walking through the woods. 

Another pretty flower. 

Pano shot. 

We came upon this trap (and camera). When we got back, we asked the ranger guy what they were trying to trap. He said there were some dogs that didn’t belong in the park. 

No luck so far. 

The camera. 

We continued climbing. After a short bit, the trail flattened out. We came to a spot where they had logged. 

These were non-native fir trees. 

There was this sign. They will plant native species. 

The trail went for a bit on a gravel/dirt road. 

As we were walking along the road, we heard this weird sound. We thought, maybe, it was a bird of some sort. A woman had passed us when we were in the logged section. We could see her ahead of us where the sound was coming from. Then we saw the maker of the sound. It was a fox. But it was weird because it seemed like it was following the woman. 

See the woman on the left? If you zoom in, across from where she is standing, there is the fox. It’s hard to see it. We saw it once more, then it was gone. 

After the flattish part, we started going down. We started to get some good views of Lago Cochrane. 

There were some pretty scary steep downhill parts. I was so grateful for Ale’s shoes!

Woodpecker in the tree. 

It was also quite windy. 

Yep, going down there. 

We came to another trail junction. There was a sign saying the way to “Administration”. That was our way. 

We came down those stairs. 

The color of the Rio Cochrane is spectacular. 

Almost at the end, we walked by the campground. It looked really nice. 

Good size shelters and everything. 

We made it back to the bikes.

The route. 

As we were riding the short distance back to the cabaña, my pedal made a grinding sound, then felt really weird. I looked down, and noticed it had come off the spindle (almost completely). I shoved it back on. Now I have the answer as to how much longer my pedal would last. Turns out…not long. When we got back, I put the new pedal on. I’m going to try to ride with my left foot clipped in, and my right foot on the flat pedal. If it is too awkward, I’ll put the other flat pedal on. 

This is not good!

I’ll have a chance to try it when we ride to dinner later tonight. We’ll see how it goes…