March 6th, 2013
Hard to the Left
After a good day of rest, we all felt better this morning, except for maybe Casimiro. Seems like a rock has poked a hole in the muffler and it now rattles and spews out clouds of diesel fumes.
It got really cold last night and the snow line was just a few thousand feet above us. Clearly, a cold front has passed through and fall is in full swing. Based on the upcoming weather reports and the state of the roads, we decided to turn today into a transit day and make a beeline for the pavement, which still involved 130 km of dirt roads.
We packed up and headed out, cheating the Chilean park service of the $8 the campground was supposed to cost. No ranger ever came to collect. Since they made us pay the fee for entering the country twice, I don’t feel so bad. We are still well negative on the transactions.
The dirt road turned out to be in pretty good shape and easy going. The border crossings were the usual befuddling lack of knowledge about the process and speed, and efficiency was at an all-time low. Luckily, this is a job I get to delegate to Susanne since it requires talking in Spanish. I jumped on their open wifi and read about all the snow in Summit County. Sheesh. No snow for months and then I leave and it’s ridiculous.
We got to Rio Mayo and had the usual spin around in circles trying to figure out which way to go. It is hard to communicate how poorly things are marked. You come into a town on a major road and it just stops. All the streets look the same and there is no indication as to which way the main road goes. It is usually not the obvious choice.
I had mentally prepared for 3.5 hours of grinding dirt road, but we did it in about 1.75 hours. Yeah! So we decided to head to Esquel and the lakes district. The drive was pretty easy and on pavement the whole way. We did get back into the infamous Patagonian winds. It was howling and I had to steer Casimiro hard to the left the whole way.
We made our way to Los Alerces National Park and set up camp. The information map is pathetic and doesn’t even show you where the hikes are located. We’ll have to go and ask at the ranger station tomorrow. The mountains are all sugar-coated from the storm last night and the weather is a bit chilly. I finally managed to get the heater in Casimiro to work! Yeah
We will assess the weather tomorrow and decide what to do. I probably won’t be able to do the one hike I was hoping for.
Feels like Summit County in late September, so we’ll bundle up tonight and hopefully I can get the heater to work in the morning.
Ciao for now.