Forbidden Fruit

DSC03847As part of our plan to find detours along the Austral, we found a nice piece of sendero action to try out. Unfortunately, after putting in some serious effort to arrive at the trailhead, we were informed that it is prohibited to pass through by bike. With a bit of smooth talking we managed to cut a deal wherein we would “carry” our bikes the whole trail. As it turns out, the first day we weren’t lying. Steep climbs and bush bashing were a recipe for slow progress. Unfortunately, due to the un-transited nature of the trail, we picked up a few spikes along the way and managed to use all but two of our patches. This left us 30km from any chance of meeting anyone, with two patches, on a trail covered in spikey death. Continue reading

Going Lateral (ish) – Palena to Coyhaique via Argentina and 4×4 track (Lago Verda – La Tapera)

Our second episode of escaping the Austral begins from Villa Santa Lucia. The kind of town which makes you wonder if anyone actually lives there. Unfortunately for us riders hunting out dirt roads, the Austral is being paved piece by piece. A huge step in the right direction for an interconnected Chile, but not much fun if a fatbike is the only arrow you’ve got in your quiver. Most people seem to duck out of Chile and head into Argentina to seek refuge from the rain, but oddly enough we’d enjoyed seemingly endless hot and sunny days while following the Austral. We directed ourselves towards Chile’s relaxed neighbor for other reasons. A dirt section through pampa setting us up perfectly to ride a small part of the Sendero de Chile from Lago Verde to La Tapera. Continue reading

Entering the Austral

The past few weeks have marked an entirely different pace for us. My folks came for a lovely visit which provided us some downtime from riding. There comes a point in any tour where one forgets to appreciate the incredible experience they are living, and I think it’s safe to say that Gina and I were very much in that position. However, It’s amazing what a week off the bike can do!

The Carreterra Austral is iconic route for South American cycle-tourists. Usually marking the beginning or end point for some very epic adventures. In our situation, a realization hits us. We’re on the home stretch and that’s pretty scary for two . We’re lined up to hit Ushuaia in early winter, but neither Gina or I are in any great rush to try and make up the time. We’ve decided to use the Austral as a sort of “home base”, branching off whenever something more interesting comes along. Continue reading

Digression (Huilo-Huilo and Volcan Osorno)

From Paso Samoré we cycled north to Riñinahue. We wanted to do the Volcán Puyehue traverse (section 13 of  the GPT). As we were told it would take us five days of pushing and carrying, and water was extremely scars, we decided to bail on this one.

After sunbathing in Lago Ranco for a couple of days, we crossed paths with Skyler. He convinced us to join him on a trail he had done a few years back, a ride through the Huilo-Huilo reserve. It felt rather weird to be going north. Continue reading

Following the bread trail. (A stunning hike a bike through Villarica national park)

It turns out my version of purgatory is probably similar to our stay in Conaripe, a overpopulated shitshow of a town which was well on its way down the same road as Pucon. We would have probably slept better had we each taken a dozen caffeine tablets rather than dealing with the screaming kids running around and tripping over our tent until midnight. This combined with our previous day of riding had put us in a state of desperation, escape cottage country at all cost. Continue reading

A quick slip up (Lonquimay to Pucon via a “4×4” track)

From Lonquimay we decided to take the scenic dirt track through reserva nacional China Muerta, and follow up with an agreed upon push-a-bike connecting the eastern end of Lago Collico directly with the lakeside town of Caburgua. We had it on good authority (Disclaimer: no one actually seemed to know much about it) that the “road” was possible with a 4×4, and the heavy traffic along the lakeshore was enough in itself to convince us to give it a try. While not all rideable, the four of us enjoyed the challenge of a less traveled route and some beautiful descent. Not a single vehicle passed us up on the trail, I’m not sure that it would’ve even be possible. To be truthful, this route defines that age old quote stating the journey is more important than the destination. Pucon itself is not the most hospitable destination for a cycle tourist on a budget, but the journey makes up for it. Continue reading

The long way around (a shortcut) – Chos Malal to Lonquimay via Paso Copahue

We’d been emailing back and forth with Tam and Danny, some cycle-friends of ours (bikesandbackpacks.blogspot.com). Since we’d bumped into them in San Pedro de Atacama, it seemed only fitting that we do some riding together due to the nature of our lightweight setups. In Chos Malal, we finally ended up making a plan for the four of us to ride (or should I say push) our way over Paso Copahue. Continue reading

A push into the New Year (or how not to cross a river)

As the new year began, it was only fitting that we tried something a little bit different. Having spent the past month dealing with setbacks, we decided to try and get back on track with a little adventure route.
Originally planning on crossing over Paso Vergara, we were disappointed to discover that it was still closed due to heavy snowfall this year. Instead we decided to tackle a small circuit near the pass that involved a large river crossing and a small hike-a-bike. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan.
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Don’t take my Kodachrome away (Tolar Grande to Antafagasta de la Sierra)

I’m writing this sitting in the home of Anibal Vazquez, a mountain guide in Antofagasta de la Sierra. He’s kindly let us stay with him for a couple of days while we decide how to push forward. Our plans have been halted by a golf ball sized lump which has developed on my backside. Our beautiful adventure route through to Paso San Francisco is definitely a no go, rough roads and shredded shorts are a recipe for me ending up in the hospital at this point.
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An Argentinian gateway (Paso Socompa)

Up until San Pedro de Atacama, we’d pre planned meticulously. Travel through Chile and Argentina had always seemed more complex and therefore out of laziness we had banished any thought of it into the very back of our minds. It was only in San Pedro that we realized we’d been so careless, and graciously took up refuge in Carlos’ house (Warmshowers) for some much needed research. We ended up staying a week, waiting for a package and reading about various different routes. Riding through northern Chile was immediately ruled out due to the heat. We were left with three crossings over to Argentina. Jama, Sico, and last but not the slightest bit least, Socompa.
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