2011/02/17: 40 km by Bike plus 50 km by boat to Free Range Hens Camp
We rode the 7 km to get to Puerto Panuelo by 08:00, and found that among the 100+ other passengers there were eight other cyclists boarding our boat. Of these, six were middle-aged men from Bariloche, equipped to the teeth with dual suspension and carbon fibre. The other two were Chilean grad students (philosophers!) set up for a several-week tour on mountain bikes. Our unloaded bikes were handled carefully, and we were very pleased when we were asked to check most of our gear into a baggage-handling system, not to be seen again till we reached Chilean customs after more steep gravel then we’d expected.
After 1.5 hours by boat up Brazo Blest on Lago Nahuel Hupai, we rode an easy 3 km to Lago Frias. The fact that the boat on this small lake needed to make two trips for the high-season cohort of non-cyclists meant that we got a comfortable head start on the challenging 30 km ride over the divide into Chile. Reaching Paso Perez Rosales after 4 km, we downed the dregs of our Argentinian wine from its Coke bottle in celebration of our second cordilleran crossing.
|Cyclists at the border|
This trans-Andean route took us through a pocket of selba valdiviano, valdivian rain forest, once contiguous with forests of the amazon basin but now cut off. We rode through a forest dense with ferns, epiphytes, and bamboos, as we descended a bone-jarring 12 km on loose gravel to Chilean immigration, followed by another 18 flattish km to Chilean customs, where we claimed our bags and presented them for inspection. We had realized on the first boat that Chile had strict rules regarding importation of food products. A cyclist needs to eat, however, and we quickly realized we were carrying quite a bit of contraband, so we consumed our bananas and empanadas, and handed out apples on the boat. Still carrying a few sandwich supplies, we ticked the more conservative box on our form confessing to having a few questionable items. Our honey was confiscated, but the kindly customs officer pretended not to see our cheese.
|Mt. Tronador from Chilean immigration|
|C and M waiting to board third ferry|
After the scenic cruise down emerald green Lago Todos Santos , we crossed the outflow river by boat with Christian and Raul, the Chilean philosophers, to a campsite patrolled by scavenging poultry.
|Raul, Christian, & Chris crossing river in small boat like in picture below|
|Morning shot of Volcano Osorno from dock of campground|