Saturday, 19 October 2013

Chilean border to Puerto Montt - Snow, rain, sun, ferries.

To celebrate being back in Chile we went out for a hot drink and some hot chips after settling into our campsite. When I say campsite I actually mean someones backyard. That is how they roll here. It takes a bit to get used to going into peoples houses to use the toilet and shower.

We woke in the morning to snow (again!!), which got worse as we made breakfast and then better. With nothing really to do in town and a date with a ferry we had to get on the road. Whenever you set off cycling in the snow and rain you have a rathe long think about what it is you are doing and why. Once you are warmed up though it is not too bad. We had a hard day in the saddle over the hilly and rather poor gravel roads. This culminated in searching for a campsite by the side of the road in the pouring rain when we were both exhausted and starving. Not cool. All we could find was an unused quarry which was high above the road and had space to pitch the tent and string up the fly for cooking. It was a pretty rough camp but we got food and some sleep and stayed relatively dry. The next day was just as wet and just as hilly and the gravel road was just as bad!! Joyous!! We took shelter under a bridge for lunch and brewed up some tea to lift our spirits. Hitting the asphalt about 30km before we thought we would definitely lifted our spirits too!! We rolled into Chaiten in the pouring rain looking like a pair of drowned rats. After failing to find a campsite and being rather unwilling to use the saturated tent and gear we took refuge in a nice warm hospedaje and went out for dinner. It was smiles all around once we were clean and dry. Also we had hit the Carretera Austral, the famous road from Puerto Montt to the south of Chile. We were there and we were cycling on it!!! Unbelievable.

From Chaiten we headed north through Parque Pumalin, which is a park set up be some really really rich dude. The park was beautiful but a lot has been devastated by volcanic eruptions. These eruptions have also lead to Chaiten looking like the dive it was, most of the population has left. It rained on and off all day but we were happy as because we knew tonight we would be camping under shelter. The campsites in the park have shelters that can fit a whole tent, both our bikes and a table for cooking. We arrived early, got everything out to ´dry´ and settled down with some tea and popcorn.

As predicted the weather improved and the next day we were cycling in the sunshine. Just a short 20km because we had the first of 3 ferries to catch. The first took about half an hour and then we had a nervous wait for a van that was coming to pick us and our gear up to transport us 10km to the second ferry. We had to get a ride because there is only one ferry per day and they want everyone to be together. Once we arrived all the ferry workers helped us load our stuff on the boat and we were off. This was a four hour journey through the fiords (pretty much Marlborough or Doubtful sound) to Hornopiren. Here we had another night in someones backyard.

It was two more days and one more ferry on the road to Puerto Montt. The sun was shining and the gorse was flowering and smelling delicious. Man I love the smell of gorse flowers!! One night we stayed on a campsite in the backblocks of someones farm. We had to push our bikes through the fields and across the streams but ended up in a sweet as spot beside a river. Oh the peace and quiet!!!

On the last day to Puerto Montt I had completely lost interest. I was super grumpy, super hungry all the time and could not be bothered cycling. This was when we worked out we had been cycling for 10 days without a break. Well that explains it! One needs a break more often than that thank you. We arrived in town, took a bit of time and lots of pushing bikes up hills to find a place to stay and then lucky for us the rain started. I was not going anywhere............................

A break in the snow and rain by Rio Futaleufu
hahaha Bruce´s face looks funny

Glimpse of the mountains and Lago Yelcho
Trying to warm/dry my gloves while making a hot drink

Quarry Camp. Saturated and uncomfortable but still had some food and got some sleep

Cycling in the snow
Lunchtime out of the rain underneath a bridge
A quick glimpse of the mountains on the way to Chaiten
By the seaside!! Settimg off from Chaiten
Parque Pumalin
Sheltered camping Parque Pumalin
On the road in the sunshine, Parque Pumalin
Ferry No. 1
Ferry views
Ferry No. 2 Bike boat, no cars and small bikes
Ferry views
Arriving in Hornopiren with the volcano of the same name in the background
Church lunch in the sunshine
Gear explosion at our farm camp. Trying to dry everything afer a couple of days of rain.

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