Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Day 52: Southern Andes (372 kms)

This was my second favourite day of riding in the entire trip. We left out camp at Licàn Ray on Lake Calafquèn around 8am, passed a dramatic snowcapped AND smoking volcano in Chile's Villarrica national park, and, once on the gravel road that would return us to Argentina, stopped for breakfast at a hotsprings. Nathan and Peter found the eucalyptus sauna boxes to enjoy (mandatory viewing video to follow).

Back on the road, the riding grew more technical as the track narrowed and climbed. A truck was down in a creek below a bridge after misjudging the turn. We exited Chile at a tiny border station that also served as the frontier to the Lanín national park. Some excellent riding passed lakes, rivers and lava fields. The border station into Argentina was even more casual; we interrupted the single young officer who was wearing pyjamas and cooking his pancake breakfast.

After a short delay for a flat on Peter's bike we stopped for lunch in the town of San Martín de los Andes. Great pizza!

It was early evening by the time we headed south on La Ruta de los Siete Lagos, a route recommended by Uncle Harry, to Bariloche. The road did not disappoint: mostly it was tar, but there was a 30 km section of gravel that was ready for paving. In that area, there was still several inches of volcanic ash on the ground; it covered the vegetation, road and buildings in a thick crust and the air contained noticeably more particulate.

Riding south along the eastern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi to Bariloche was almost like being transported back to coastal BC.

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