Cycling Chile/Argentina '04 | Tortel Index Day 34 Day 36
Day 35: Caleta Tortel -> Camp Carretera #1 62KM 228 Steps

Surprise! It was raining out.

We had breakfast with an Argentinian girl and a South African guy who were getting married in Ushuaia in a couple of days. The girl was somehow convinced there was a 4WD road from Laguna del Desirto to Candelario Mancilla -- in 20 years maybe.

Above the stove in the hallway, our gear was almost dry. Seemed like our life these days had fallen in to a getting-wet, drying, getting-wet-again loop. And there was no exception that morning.

Cringed on taking another double-trip in the pouring rain, we devised a better portage system. Handlebar bag stuffed into backpack cover, two panniers saddled over our back with a long strap so that each arm could grab on to one pannier.

That seemed to work fine. "I think you are crazy but enjoy your travel." The South African guy told us as we made our way out of the door.

With packs as ridiculously looking as ours, every step counts, and in Tortel, every stair counts. We counted. It was 228 stairs up.

We heard a loud and prolonged siren as we took shelter under the information portal to pack our bikes. Maybe some ships were coming in to port? Anyway, we didn't give it too much thought. It was 12:00 noon.

I started the uphill right out of town and waited for Brian at the top. He was slow to catch up, something was not working right with his shifting and he had trouble using the lower gear. So we tried to fix it at the top. Almost an hour later, we were still 500 feet from Tortel.

We were not alone. A cute yellow dog somehow followed us from the parking lot and kept us accompany. While we were doing the repair work, it ran around but was never too far away from us. When we were done, I gave it a final pet and rolled down the hill.

At the bottom of the hill, I heard noise behind me, and it was not Brian. It was that yellow dog, yelping and panting as if saying: You are going too fast, I can't catch you up, please wait for me. We tried to talk him to go back: Perro (Perro = Dog), go back, we can't take you, please go back to your friends.

We rode on, hoping it would soon give up. But it faithfully followed. Every kilometer, we would stop and try to say something different like: there is no room in our panniers; they don't like dogs where we are going; we know you're tired of the stairs, but we are going up very steep hills. But nothing seemed to work. After 6km, I couldn't take it anymore. We threw some biscuits on the road and Brian made wolf noise. That eventually scared it away. We both felt awful.

It was nice to enjoy one of my favorite rides one more time. This time, it was a lot hazier. The rain was really going down hard on us.

The terrain though, was pretty nice to us for this stretch. It was undulating with hills around us but we never had to do any big mountain passes. At 6 o'clock and 40km from the junction to Tortel, we got ourselves a nice campsite in a grassy area tugged away from the road. For a change, the rain stopped just as we did. To play it safe, we still used tarp and poncho to build a lean-to over our tent between two trees.

We didn't get any rain but we still managed to get a wet tent from spilling a whole pot of noodle all over our mattresses. Luckily, we were fully stocked on cookies, our mood-mender.

Index Day 34 Day 36