Another Patagonian morning dawned cold and overcast. Once again, we dashed for the luxury of the hot water showers. Warmed and cleaned, we were anxious to commence the final leg of our journey to the End of the World at Tierra del Fuego. We ate a quick breakfast and returned to our tents to put on our gear, clean our dusty helmets and get back on the gravel. We would certainly miss Torres del Paine, but the end of the earth was now calling more loudly than ever.
Back on the gravel, we continued to experience towering mountain views and twisty mountain roads. Riding up and over mountain passes and down steep roads, we felt like we had become one with the surrounding landscape. In fact, in some areas, we literally became one with the surroundings. Recent road construction had chopped huge chunks out of the surrounding granite. Walls of rock surrounded us on both sides, while chunks recently rendered from the earth lay at the road’s edge and sometimes in the road itself. Looking up at roughly hewn rock walls at both sides of the road, we made our way through the earth towards Tierra del Fuego.
By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.
Along the way, we had the opportunity to cross beautiful rivers of multi-hued blues on wooden bridges. Of significant length, the bridges were in good repair but consisted mainly of trestles lined with rows of wood and then overlayed with unsecured planks for two tire tracks.
Before long, it seemed like we had changed continents. Large flat green plains dotted with trees and giant rock outcroppings covered in roots and vines made us feel like we had somehow made it to the plains of South Africa. Wire and wooden fences designed either to keep animals in or people out, or both lined the gravel roadway and served as a frame to the beautiful scenes.
We rode across what seemed like African prairies while an ocassional large bird soared overhead on unseen currents of rising air. Circling and gliding surveying all below and perhaps looking for a mid day meal. Had the temperatures been 50 degrees more than the 50 degrees fahrenheit it was, I would have sworn we were somehow transported to Africa.
We continued on the good gravel on an undulating course. As we motored along we came upon some giant rocky outcroppings. We had to stop to check this out. Standing just at the side of the road was a gigantic wall of rock. Seemingly rising out of the ground for no reason, it looked like a giant anvil surrounded by some trees and covered with brush. Nothing around it was so grand in size it just seemed so out of place and so random in what had been fairly open riding.
I asked Kim to get off her bike and stand near to the rock tower and the enormity of the rock was clear. Kim was barely discernible as she stood by the roadside. In fact, if you look at the picture in this selection, you will see her standing at the right side of the road standing beside her bike looking up at the rock. You can barely make her out on the right side of the road. It was truly impressive for a single rock.
Back on the bikes again, we made our way towards the little town of Puerto Natales on the coast of Chile. It was a pretty ride sometimes along the cost as we meandered into town and back onto pavement. But it was what happened in town that was about to make the day a little more interesting. We had stopped at a little diner in town for lunch for a quick little meal. As we left the restaurant, a man stood outside and explained that he was a newspaper reporter. He had seen us ride into town (there’s more to this story) and he’d like to talk about our journey for the paper. After a brief discussion, we were on our way southward once more and we found that the next day, a brief article was published about us in the local newspaper.
Back on the pavement we paralleled the coast for a while and passed a few small towns which had been abandoned. The buildings were still in pretty good shape, but to townspeople had apparently moved on in search of something better. It was a bit of a strange feeling seeing all these buildings, it good condition, and not a soul around. Not far from he abandoned town, we came across an even more unusual scene. Just outside of the last town we passed not even totally out of the water, lay the hulls of two ships.
One, lay mostly beached, its hull mainly intact and its but the stern of the ship had mostly rusted away and had nearly departed the remainder of the hull. The other, laying on its left side had been reduced to its ribs and spars, the skeletal remains of a once seaworthy craft. We decided the sight deserved some closer attention so we stopped and took a walk around both ships. The more intact one was interesting, but the one that had been reduced to its skeletal remains brought about some terrific opportunities for pictures.
We walked around and through the ship’s hull taking pictures from different vantage points. Once fully inside, you got the feeling that you were indeed inside the belly of some beast. Ribs surrounding you and diminishing in size as it made its way to the sea. With a little imagination, you could envision yourself in the story of Jonah trapped inside a whale. This time, a whale with iron ribs which were slowly melting with time. It was quite a little short term adventure.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to dawdle around the wrecks since we still had to make it to our ferry for the trip across the Strait of Magellan. So we hopped back on the bikes and continued our way southward. A couple of hours later, we came across another quite interesting sight. In the middle of nowhere, we came across what appeared to be some aluminum poles with some circular twisted tubes of metal at the top. There were several of the poles all in a row and they were on both sides of the road.
Of course we had to stop and check out the poles and find out what they meant. When we got closer we found that the poles and the metal at the top of the poles were designed as art and as an homage to the wind circling the globe. What that perspective, the poles easily started to make sense and the artistic viewpoint was readily seen. There was another learning experience for me as well.
On one of the poles was a plaque that indeed said the posts were an homage to the wind. However, there was also a globe inscribe on the plaque and Antarctica was on the top! Since we were in the southern hemisphere and the wind was from the south, the orientation of the globe for this artist was the opposite of what we were used to.
Each of these little stops was eating into our time and we really needed to be making time towards the ferry. Back on the bikes we straight lined it to the ferry and made it in plenty of time. Phew! As we pulled up to the ferry station, we had a little time to look around. There it was in front of us, the Straights of Magellan! Choppy waters awaited us but the ferry had not yet arrived. We looked for the dock, but none was to be found. This ferry was to arrive, pull up to the asphalt that ran to the ocean and drop a ramp to allow us to embark and other vehicles to disembark.
After about an hour of waiting, the ferry came into view. There was quite a strong current and the ferry had to crab heavily in order to run itself aground at close to a 90 degree angle. Seconds after it landed, the ramp came down revealing a heavily loaded ferry with several tractor trailer rigs and many cars waiting to unload. However, it was clear that the loading and unloading had been done many times before and it wasn’t long before it was our turn to board the ferry for the crossing of the straits and landfall at Tierra del Fuego where we’ll take you in part 15.
Ride 2 Adventure – Shrink the Planet One Ride At A Time