Back to Argentina: Eating Kurt’s Dirt
Stood at the road junction in La Junta another car whizzes past enveloping me in the dust cloud left in its wake. I stand looking blankly at my map trying trying to make a decision.
4 days of bad weather, increasing daily traffic and the promise of further road improvements north of La Junta make continuing to Puerto Montt and the end of the Carretera Austral the least favourable option.
Instead I decide to swing back in to Argentina following some lines kindly drawn on my map by Kurt and the promise of some rough dirt road riding.
Blue skies, perfect temperatures and fast ripio make the ride to Chilean border at Lago Verde a pleasure after days of cold and wet weather.
As the kilometres click by roadside shrines add interest.
As do the bikeshacking opportunities. Kurt’s humble abode for an evening.
The rustic dwellings have unfortunately seen better days.
At least the locals have time to customise the signs. Warning: Rocky Downhill.
Arrving at the Lago Verde border crossing by early evening the Carabinera makes a fuss of me and offers me a place to stay and a meal before crossing to Argentina the following day. The roaring wood burner sees me break in to a sweat whilst waiting from my passport to be stamped. Despite the kind offer I decide to make the most of the sunny day and wild camp.
Riding in to the evening, I follow a jeep track through a forest. Starting to think I missed the border crossing I arrive at this gate. Its nothing but subtle for an international border crossing.
Goodbye Chile. I’ll close the gate behind me.
No mans land offers a prime camping spot for the evening. Daisies in the foreground, snow capped mountains in the background.
By morning the adventure continues. I follow the forest track further before picking up vague jeep tracks and then cross 4 rivers.
Knee high water refreshes weary legs.
Just when I think I’m lost (again), this sign brings a smile to my face.
Welcome back to Argentina.
It seems they like lots of gates on this side of the border.
Arriving in Las Pampas the adventure is over and its back to the ripio and as the name suggests the dreaded pampa. Old tractors take my mind off the howling wind.
The ripio gets rough. Huge boulders litter the side of the road.
Rough, rough, rough. Slowly mountains draw near and with it a cloud inversion.
Lago Vinter shimmers under the sun.
Clouds reflect back off the surface.
Stopping for lunch I watch a fisherman as fish bubble underneath the surface. Its easy pickings today.
Pushing on toward Corcovada hills plunge down to the plain, reminding me of deepest Wales.
As the Lake District draws nearer the weather takes on a gloomy feel. Hills barely visible through the gloom.
But the cloud lifts eventually.
The town of Trevellin comes as a pleasant suprise. Like stepping in to the American mid west old rusted Ford pickups sit in gardens.
Battered and bruised Chevy pickups rumble round town.
Quirky signage makes reference to the non native settlers the town is famed for.
Despite knowing of the Welsh speaking communities of Gaiman and Trevellin through Bruce Chatwins In Patagonia its through a chance encounter with Steph from Project Hiraeth, a Kickstarter funded project documenting the Welsh Migration to Patagonia that I’m able to learn more.
Within hours of our meeting I join Steph, her host Alwen and one of John Daniel Evans ancestors who recounts the tale of the early explorers journey to Patagonia in Spanish, which is then retranslated in to Welsh for Steph’s project.
John Daniel Evans original passport. Issued in the 1800s.
As a fellow traveller I’m warmly received and leave laden with a handful of fresh apples and then invited to Alwen’s home for tea and force fed homemade Apple Pie by an accommodating host. Its a tough life as a long distance cyclist sometimes.
Riding back through the small town I reflect on yet another heart warming encounter. Argentina never fails to suprise, when you least expect it.
La Junta – Lago Verde – Las Pampas – Rio Pico – Corcovado – Trevellin