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Published: February 16th 2010
Well, we made it to the end of the world. Sort of. The southernmost city in the world, to be precise.
Day 8: El Chaltén to El Calafate (Ruta 40)
Today was nice. We woke up to find perfectly clear skies, so that we had a completely open view of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, which the day before I had struggled to photograph without clouds completely blocking the view. My dad and I, along with a Werner, Nacho, and Enzo, took a hike up to see the mountain a little closer. We saw a sign at the park entrance that warned us to please not pollute the water with garbage or our own waste - it's one of the only places in the world where you can drink directly from the streams (so, of course, I did - how could I not?). This was also the first time where the group split up and we rode in smaller groups to our end of day destination. Matias had actually gone to Calafate the day before to try and make sure we had some spare parts that we'd gone through - tubes for the tires, a new fork seal for one
A perfectly clear day
of the bikes that started leaking fork oil. Of course, after he left us yesterday, we had a more serious problem - his bike, which Jürgen (Hernandez) was now riding, sprang a leak from the radiator. So that bike was loaded onto the truck and Hernandez joined Günther (Fernandez) as a passenger. Mathias left to meet Matias in Calafate this morning to take care of the repairs, so the rest of us made our way down after the hike. It was a nice, short, pleasant drive, which we've needed in order to recharge.
Day 9: El Calafate
Today we visited the glacier Perito Moreno, and basically just walked around there for the day. We split up here as well, going at our own pace. Matias came with in the truck while Mathias stayed behind to take care of repairs. These are basically new bikes, so that should give you an idea of how hard the road has been.
The glacier itself was breathtaking - watching and hearing huge chunks of ice fall off and into the water below was incredibly beautiful. At the time, I had a particular way I wanted to describe it, but I can't remember
the words I held in my head at the time, so I guess the photos will have to do.
The slower pace of yesterday and today has given us back the energy we need to continue the trip, although we just found out that our last day is going to be an extra 150km or so, since the one ferry per day that goes from the place we would like to cross to Tierra del Fuego will be in the afternoon, too late for us to make the crossing. The schedule was just posted.
Day 10: El Calafate to Torres del Paine (Ruta 40 to ?)
We crossed back into Chile today, with a nice view along the way, and landed back on gravel roads as we arrived at the border. Since we were about out of fuel and the gas stations on the way today didn't have any gas (apparently this is common in Patagonia), we ended up foregoing our afternoon venture into the park and instead we made it a short day. My dad slept all afternoon, while I read a book I found in our Pousada (Hotel Tres Pasos).
Day 11: Torres del Paine
Patagonian style lamb that made up a large portion of our dinners on this trip.
to Puerto Natales (?)
Today we drove into Torres del Paine National Park, which was absolutely stunning. In some ways, it was much like Yosemite, but with more varied features. We saw a lot of condors, guanacos, rheas, flamingos, and other wildlife, and waterfalls, a glacier, and treacherous granite peaks, all while sniffing in the wonderful smell of wildflowers. Just before a late picnic lunch, I gave the bike a little rev to get over a hill and I heard something snap. When the bike wouldn't speed up I realized that my chain had broken. Matias was behind me, as was Enzo, so Enzo went to go get Mathias when we saw the chain had actually snapped and not just fallen off the sprockets. After replacing the chain (luckily Mathias had a spare!), we continued our tour of the park, and then drove a bit further down to Puerto Natales.
Day 12: Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas (?)
From Puerto Natales we drove south to Punta Arenas, passing a lagoon with flamingos and making a detour to see the Penguin colony of Otway. On the road, I stppped to watch a fox. At the penguin colony, we saw penguins
on the beach and in the dirt, and we saw paths tracked into the grasses where the penguins make their treks. Pretty cool. We also chanced upon an armadillo at the penguin colony, which took me a bit by surprise.
Day 13: Punta Arenas to Ushuaia (? to Ruta 3)
Today was very very very long. We started the ride at 7am, and ended it about 8pm. We did 627.2 kilometers, about twice the next longest riding day. We had to take a ferry to make it to Tierra del Fuego, and Mathias didn't make it on the same ferry with the truck as we did with the bikes, so that added about an hour plus to the trip. But, my dad kept pace at our higher speeds and the road was mostly tarmac (except for where my speedo broke about 280km in . . . ), so we did end up making it alive and safe to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.
Total distance: 3718km.
Tot: 3.275s; Tpl: 0.164s; cc: 10; qc: 51; dbt: 0.1298s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb