Published: April 3rd 2011April 3rd 2011
What a beautiful day!
Dust, Snow, Sleet and Slush in one day
We left Cusco in absolutely beautiful mountain weather, retracing the road back down to Sicuani, where we refueled and headed off into the mountains and a 4885 meter pass on our way to Chivay, and the Colca Canyon.
This road, traditionally has had it’s challenges and today was going to prove to be no exception. As we headed up towards Yauri, with great views looking down on Lago Descanso, which is higher than Lake Titicaca. This section of dusty road is under major reconstruction, so we had many delays waiting for huge machinery and trucks that were moving tons of rocks around.
As we gained altitude, we found ourselves above the low cloud and the temperatures began to drop accordingly. Reaching the mining town of Tintaya and negotiating the new road through the mine, as the mine has gobbled up the road from last year, the weather ahead began to look a bit grim, as dark threatening clouds began to form, with lightning lighting up the sky. Bugger, I had better put my jacket on, close the windows and put the heater on a little bit, only to keep the windscreen
clear, mind you!
Well from here on things just got worse, some of the riders getting hailed on, followed by really cold winds with a dusting of snow. The higher we got the heavier the snow began to fall, making the road into a slushy mess, with big mining supply trucks sticking to their formed lines, ‘Might has Right’, so many times I found myself in the side drain.
Dropping down into a small town with a water storage dam, I found that the bridge had collapsed in the centre and there was no way for me to cross it, looking around, I saw a track leading up the hill towards the dam, so I followed it to the top of the dam, but there was no exit up there, so coming back down, I spotted a road that took me past the overflow from the dam and onto the other side.
There was enough room for the motos to cross the hole in the bridge. It was around 5.00pm but it was now nearly dark, as the weather was still closed in with just a slight drizzle.
Upon reaching the T intersection with Araquipa-Chivay, I found that
the whole bridge had been washed away !! BUGGER, it would be about a 5 hour detour if I had to go back. All the motos had gone across a walking plank that had been put in place, so I was on my own.
Getting out of the truck, I checked an access across but it had been washed out by the flood waters, about a meter deep on the far side, so that was out. Checking tracks a bit further up I could see that it may be possible to get through, keeping in mind that this is only a two wheel drive Ford.
So with my heart beating that little bit quicker, I engaged my mind into 4WD mode and made a run for it. Well even with the wipers on full I could not see much at all, but the truck popped out the other side without a hic up, mind you we bounced about a bit, but with my new front shock, at least it went the way I had it pointed.
Arriving at the hotel to find a bunch of tired cold and muddy, but happy riders, ready for a hot shower and a
good feed to end a very good day of adventure riding.
The ride the next day from Chivay to Arequipa via the Colca Canyon was in brilliant sunshine, such a contrast from the previous day. We wound our way around the little villages dotted around the edge of the canyon.
Alan somehow managed to find a 4" nail to stick in his tyre, he engaged his well trained pit crew and it was not long before we were on the road again.
We stopped a small village where some of us engaged in the local 'Bird Life'.....others were serching in vain for some coffee.
After this it was a great ride onto Arequipa.
When we got to Cusco, a few days ago, Paul sent his riding suite to the cleaners, as it had got a bit grubby, well when he left Cusco this morning, he looked like the new kid on the block, joining us for his first ride, well, by the time he arrived in Chivay, he was a seasoned rider, covered in muck and slush-Good one Paul.
By the way, how come we have not had these extreme weather conditions, when String has not been present
He has a bit to answer for here, but hopefully he has run out of Rain Juice!!! as we head into the Atacama, with no recorded rainfall, ever, so I hope they are prepared for String's eminent arrival!!
Here is Strings version of the previous days.
Hi all String here in sunny Arequipa after days of interesting weather apparently bought on by myself .yeah right.
Anyhow back tracking to the road of death .yes it is like any other gravel road but with its own mystique. Riding the sealed section down to our lunch stop was like the doors song riders of the storm but at this stage without the storm , but it felt like riders of the sky as we rode in and out of the mist and clouds at the higher altitudes.
Each winding section was like riding in and out of pockets of your own heaven quite surreal. Heading back up the old gravel road of death was awe inspiring.
With natural ice waterfalls cascading down upon us as we rode around the different gradients of corners, the vegetation of natural rainforest, stopping on various corners it was looking back
that gave the full picture of the huge drop-offs that we had just ridden around.
Heading back down to Laz Paz from the highlands we came across all the different types of approaching vehicles whether it be full on trucks with no headlights, donkeys and dogs all over the road and then the vision of the lights of La Paz down in the valley.
The hazards then became the small Daewoo taxis, Toyota mini buses carrying football teams in quantity, one way streets and the constant sound of horns. In between all this were a number of amigos on foreign motos trying to navigate back to our hotel.
One taxi driver wound down his window and said “Senor, I have past four amigos going in the opposite direction down in the valley” . I said “Gracious Senor I am not lost yet”. We all survived that great day.
Heading from Cusco and on to Machu Picchu, I was again blamed for the weather. With the river at its highest and its current showing us the full force of mother nature. The mist and rain made the ruins of Machu Picchu show a totally different aspect compared with
And Bloody cold out side
my last visit here.
My menu for the weather was in for a big change on our day from Cusco to Chivay which takes us up to the altiplano at constant high altitudes ,my memory from the last trip was of sunny skies and great mountain vistas this time big changes with the sky turning dark and as Garth Brooks would say in his song The Thunder Rolls. Then the hail ,sleet and snow came and the adventure began to take on its serious side at these altitudes .
What with bridge washouts and snow slush with a bit of mud throw in on our descent into Chivay.
Again thankfully no bike or rider problems.
All just very wet and dirty a great welcome was the hot shower at the end of the day. We are all getting used to these higher altitudes with the next day taking us through the Colca Canyon and up again into the high altiplano with heights of excess of 4800 metres on our way to Arequipa.
From the lush valleys of the Colca Canyon to the high arid conditions above Arequipa reminding us of the Desert Road conditions in New Zealand, but
on a far far grander scale.
We will now leave the lush conditions, heading back to the coast and the Northern Atacama Desert conditions of Peru and Chile over the next couple of days .
All is going well with Ninja Turtle Kawasaki and Rosco ‘s Ford ute has a new lease of life with new front shocks.
Of course all Rosco Rocky Road Adventures are different and this one so far has not disappointed.
More to come when we head down the Chilean coast.
ADOIS from String and hello to everyone as I snitch the ninja turtle into first gear the spectro oil is still performing beyond expectations.
There are more photos below