Monday, 25 March 2013

After the Carretera Austral.

As mentioned, the road ends at O'Higgins. But for hikers and bikers it is possible to ride 7k to then catch a 4hr ferry to the south end of Lago O'Higgins (Do you see a theme developing here?). There you pass through a Chilean border post, possibly the happiest bunch of border guards I have come across. But then, a few of them were taking out some big machine guns for shooting practise. So they get to stay for short stints with their mates, in the mountains, leaving the family behind, and play with some big guns....I cannot think why they are so happy.

I digress. Once through the Chilean border post, you have 22k to cover across land to the Argentian border at the north end of another lake, Lago Deseirto. This 22k involves 4k up a very steep and rocky trail (see below),

----- then a flat section through high valleys, before the infamous 'goat track'......

This is a section where previous bikers talk of having to push, lug, carry and lift their bikes and luggage over fallen trees, along tree trunks for bridges, through streams and along 3' deep by 2' wide ruts formed by pack horses and numerous hikers. Some take many hours to complete this section.

Admittedly it is easier north to south, and we do only have two rear panniers when most other people are carrying loads of baggage (Editor; perhaps too much baggage?), but 'tough?' Balderdash. We found it rather alot of fun. Much of it could be ridden, and although there was some pushing at times overall it seemed to me to be the most exclusive piece of single track I've been on. There were no weekend warriors to be found.

Uli on one of the more engineered bridges. Even if they are not fixed, it did have cross pieces.

There were three of us as Yuri, a Japanese girl who we had been bumping into for a few weeks, was also on the ferry. Yuri is a tough cookie (example; having lost her tent she sews another out of a car seat cover, and carries on. Later we met her and she was now sharing a tent with two frenchmen. When we offered the loan of our tent one night she said, "No thankyou, it lacks a certain j' ne sais trois". (Editor; did you see what Dave did there?). The trail was a real team effort and all the more enjoyable because of it.

But the really special part of this section is the subject of my next post....


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