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.

Road Side Worship

As do the bikeshacking opportunities. Kurt’s humble abode for an evening.

Kurts Shack

The rustic dwellings have unfortunately seen better days.

Patagonian House

At least the locals have time to customise the signs. Warning: Rocky Downhill.

Rough 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.

International Gate

No mans land offers a prime camping spot for the evening. Daisies in the foreground, snow capped mountains in the background.

No Mans Land Camping

By morning the adventure continues. I follow the forest track further before picking up vague jeep tracks and then cross 4 rivers.

River Crossings

Knee high water refreshes weary legs.

River Crossing

Just when I think I’m lost (again), this sign brings a smile to my face.

Where is the border control

Welcome back to Argentina.

Welcome Back to Argentina

It seems they like lots of gates on this side of the border.

Lots of Gates

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.

Tractor

The ripio gets rough. Huge boulders litter the side of the road.

Rough Ripio

Rough, rough, rough. Slowly mountains draw near and with it a cloud inversion.

Ripio and Clouds

Lago Vinter shimmers under the sun.

Lago Vinter

Clouds reflect back off the surface.

Lago Vinter Reflections

Stopping for lunch I watch a fisherman as fish bubble underneath the surface. Its easy pickings today.

Lago Vinter Fishing

Pushing on toward Corcovada hills plunge down to the plain, reminding me of deepest Wales.

Dramatic Valleys

Sometimes Italy.

Tuscany

As the Lake District draws nearer the weather takes on a gloomy feel. Hills barely visible through the gloom.

Gloomy Lake District

But the cloud lifts eventually.

Rain Clearing

The town of Trevellin comes as a pleasant suprise. Like stepping in to the American mid west old rusted Ford pickups sit in gardens.

Old Pickups

Battered and bruised Chevy pickups rumble round town.

Chevvy

Reminders that I’m back in Argentina. Asado. Meat.
Asado

Quirky signage makes reference to the non native settlers the town is famed for.

Casa Del Gringo

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.

Passport

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.

Route

La Junta – Lago Verde – Las Pampas – Rio Pico – Corcovado – Trevellin

9 Comments

  1. Nic
    29/04/2014

    A great travel log, I’m there riding by the side of you in my mind. Great pictures enrich my visualisations of your experiences. Keep the tales coming big man. 🙂

    Reply
  2. James
    30/04/2014

    Mike – great to see you did the Laguna Verde/Las Pampas route. We did it too and loved it – probably our favourite border crossing of the whole trip! Stunning photos as always. Happy trails from BA!

    Reply
    • Mike
      30/04/2014

      Hey James

      I thought Kurt and I were in a minority, it was certainly a great adventure.

      Hope you are enjoying BsAs. When are you guys headed back to Blighty?

  3. Cass
    30/04/2014

    Great looking route! And a really cool insight into Patagonian immigrant history. Will have to go back for it, at some point…

    Reply
    • Mike
      30/04/2014

      Thanks Cass!

      I felt like I was in Bruce Chatwins book for all of a few hours. The fact I totally overshot Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kids Cassita in Chollila the next day we’ll gloss over!

  4. Alec
    30/06/2014

    Hi Mike

    I’m interested in the Laguna Verde/Las Pampas crossing. We were in La Junta for a couple of nights between Christmas and New Year ad we must have had a conversation with a local about this route as I remember being told it wasn’t possible because of the rivers. We were heading south and had no intention of crossing anyway (this time). So is there a Chilean aduana/immigration office in laguna verde? The photo’s I’ve seen of several people including yourself who crossed recently in late summer show the rivers as wide but not too deep or swift – how deep would you say they were when you crossed?

    Alec

    Reply
    • Mike
      03/07/2014

      Hi Alec

      Yes there is a Gendamerie in Lago Verde and they will stamp passports. If you arrive late in the day they may even offer to let you stay the night. That said there are plenty of wild camping options between the borders.

      In terms of the river crossings, nothing was much above my knee and certainly not fast flowing enough to put me off crossing by myself.

      There are a couple of small holdings nearest to the biggest river and if you were stuck I’m sure they would take you across in a 4×4.

      Hope that helps!

  5. a rude awakening… | (Un)Inspired Ramblings
    26/08/2014

    […] covered work area at the side. What a result! I am finally bikeshacking, a la Kurt, Cass, and Mike in South America! Well, kind of, in my own small way in my own little patch of norther French […]

    Reply
  6. a rude awakening… | (Un)Inspired Ramblings
    14/02/2016

    […] covered work area at the side. What a result! I am finally bikeshacking, a la Kurt, Cass, and Mike in South America! Well, kind of, in my own small way in my own little patch of northern French […]

    Reply

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