Very cold this morning – It was about 2 deg C by the time I was up and got a look at the thermometer. I don’t think it got to freezing, but it was cold enough to make me get my Alaskan fur hat out of storage ! All was good as they had good hot showers so by the time I hit the road after breakfast, I was ready for whatever lay ahead ! But I was still very stiff and sore in the thighs !
First thing was the roadworks that I was still not clear of – Since they were only letting the traffic go one way at a time, I just hoped that when I started out in the middle I wouldn’t meet a whole lot of traffic coming the other way, wondering what I was doing going the “wrong” way ! It turned out that I didn’t encounter anyone, (must be that “early morning” thing again – no one up yet ?!), and I made it through unscathed.
Still on the dirt road, I almost immediately arrived in the little village of Puyuhuapi, located beside a little lake. Coming into town I tried to take some pics of the little houses along the road, but the sun was just in the wrong direction – Something that was going to bug me all day ! But a pretty little town, and once again lots of hitch hikers that seemed to have overnighted in accommodation there, and were now gathered in large numbers on the way out of town in each direction. I drove along beside the lake which was just so very blue it was breathtaking. I guess having a clear blue sky overhead helped with this. It seems to alternate here – One cloudy day, one fine day, one cloudy day, and so on.
After driving alongside the lake for an hour or so I started to see much more snow up on the mountain peaks, and the river beside me was ice blue – Snow melt, so I knew there was a lot of snow round. Then I came round a corner and there was a Troopie parked beside the road, this time with Italian plates ! Turned out to be Christine and Aldo who had been over here for a while. I didn’t get a photo but theirs is a Ute cab with a motorhome type back built onto it. They were travelling with another Italian couple in their Iveco 4WD motorhome, and were spending a lot more time than me in this area. They are due to go back to Europe in April, using the same Grimaldi shipping line I have booked on so maybe they will even be on the same ship !!
Shortly after leaving them, I found the turning to the Ventisquero Colgante – a chalk blue hanging glacier. I drove up a dirt road into the park, for which my legs were extremely pleased, and there were then a selection of walks available. I did the shortest one first, about 200 metres, and although it was quite steep up and down, I survived it, and the view was spectacular, even though the sun was not yet on the front of the glacier. So I decided to try the next walk, a 600 metre one, (don’t forget to doube that for coming back !) and that was a bit more of a test – But the view was well worth the pain. After crossing a wire suspension bridge over the ice blue river flowing from the glacier, the track wound up through the woods and then suddenly opened up beside the palest blue lake that was covered in a fine morning mist, with the glacier hanging above it all in the sunlight. There are a couple of major waterfalls down from the glacier, and I can only imagine what they must look like later in the day when the sun is on them. I sat there on the roacks for about half an hour, just soaking it all in. They had kayaks for rent there and I would have loved to have gone out, but with my thighs barely able to hold me up, especially when I bent, I thought it wiser to stay on dry land for the moment !
Once back at the car park I knew I couldn’t do the 3300 metre walk, so since it was such a lovely sunny day, I decided to have my lunch in the car park before heading down the road. While doing so Marie, a French girl cycling the Carretera with her Peruvian boyfriend came over for a chat, and was telling me some of the adventures she was having trying to cycle on these dirt roads. It certainly didn’t sound to all be fun, but she said the good bits were brilliant.
After that, I set off down the road at about 1.30 – Only to find the road was closed from 1-5 pm again !! I thought there was only one section they were closing daily, but now I find there is a second one !! Grrr. I could so easily have not made my lunch and got through. Anyway, since there was no shade on the road, I went back the ten minutes to the Glacier car park, found a shady spot, put the pop top up, and lay in the back and went to sleep !! One of the advantages of carrying your bed with you – Everyone else had to just sit in their cars for 4 hours !
At about 4.45 I sauntered back up the road and joined the queue, and then at 5 pm on the dot, they let us through. This road works section was much longer than yesterday’s, and a lot rougher – They really are remaking the road completely alongside the lake, using the 4 hours a day road closure to blast way more rock, and then spending the rest of the day removing it in trucks so they can do it again the next day. This is a major project in this part of the world. The poor cyclists, who were allowed through along with all the trucks and cars, were having a horrible time in mud, rough rocks, and the dust. After about 30 minutes driving slowly through the area, we got back onto “normal” dirt road, and the road started climbing and turning. We only went up to 600 metres, but it was an amazing little switchback road, and all dirt, so the hairpins had everyone scrabbling for traction ! All I could think of was the poor cyclists having to climb this hill, although I found out later they didn’t mind it – If it is smooth gravel uphill, apparently it is OK, but really rough surfaces and uphill are apparently hard work. I take my hat off to these guys cycling the route – It really is one hell of a challenge for them. One couple I saw today had a little trailer behind one bike, with a little terrier type dog in there ! He seemed to be loving it, with his head hanging out of the side of his little trailer!
It was a stunning pass through the snow covered peaks, with rivers everywhere down the mountain side. From the top down the other side, it was much wider and again a rougher surface while they tried to remake it, but eventually we got down and back onto some black top – Ahhhhhhh !
Beside a river I suddenly saw this very sharp peak up to my right, and pulled over to take a photo and enjoy it. On pulling up, I suddenly realised that one of my “eagle birds” was sitting on the fence post looking at me – I managed one quick pic before he flew off. After that it was on fr another hour, by which time it was 7 pm and I was ready to stop. Sore legs and now a streaming cold did not have me feeling the best ! After passing a couple of possible spots, I then came round the corner wand there was the beautiful Lago Las Torres, and right next to it was a little camping spot ! Perfect. I drove in, met the lady who looks after it, and set up and had my supper. The view over the lake to the snowcapped mountain was just what I needed at the end of a long day !