Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leaving Patagonia

We left Tortel in the usual rain and decided to head for a farm that may soon be underwater from the dam project (see previous post). Backtracking on the Austral for 60 km, we came to the turnoff for the Nadis River and headed for the confluence with the Baker. At the end of this track are a few very off the grid farms run by Patagons who worked this land for a couple of generations.

A German/ Chilean couple built a little cabin on their land and allow tourists to stay there for very cheap and enjoy the remoteness of the area. Large glaciated peaks tower over the biggest river in Chile with waterfalls dripping down the glacial cut forested walls of the valley. Just over the crest is the Northern Icefield with its tentacles of glaciers tumbling down valleys to feed the baker. It is a perfect spot to have a farm and to be removed from everything in the world. No electricity, no towns, no roads, no nothing.

We went for a walk around the land through the wet grass and watched birds and glaciers from the confluence of the rivers. This little guy didn't seem to mind us at all as he was staring into the river looking for what must be some yummy fish. After taking some 3000 photos, we decided to leave him alone. Thanks little buddy.

We went shopping for our dinner in the garden by digging up potatoes, and carrots and picking beans and peas out of the autumn garden. We picked up fresh german style bread from the owner. On our way back to the cabin, we saw the dad of the ranch carrying kittens over to the kids because he had just found them in the hay loft.

We fired up the wood stove, cooked a nice meal and enjoyed a relaxing night in a very remote area.

The next morning we woke up with pouring cold rain. With the snow level just 1000 feet above us, we contemplated staying another night, but new that we were running out of time. The Southern part of the Austral had grabbed us and slowed us way down, but after the looking at the calendar and counting backwards from when we have to leave Santiago, we very slowly and reluctantly packed up the bikes and headed off into the rain.
We have very good rain gear. And I will write a review about that later, but even though we stayed bone dry, our feet became little popsicles after 2 hours of miserable rain. We brewed up some tea in Cochrane to warm up but neither of us wanted to push on any further that day. So with only 60km of riding for the day we found a place to stay and warm up next to a stove.

It is a good thing we stopped because the next morning was bluebird beautiful and all the new precipitation had coated the mountains in perfect white. We headed north along the baker river to Lago General Carrera and then along the southern coast of this 100 mile long crystal blue lake. We stopped for a picnic on the beach and ate the rest of our german bread. It was a perfect way to leave Chilean Patagonia.

We crossed into Argentina without incident and for the next 3 days headed north battling Patagonian winds through the desert side of the mountains.
And now we are in Bariloche where we plan to spend three days in this idealistic resort town.

Along the Rio Baker.
This will all be underwater if the dam project goes through.
Drying out our stuff around the heater.

The perfect picnic spot

Bluebird, at last.

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