Day 221 – Torres del Paine, Chile to Rio Gallegos, Argentina

Day 221 – Torres del Paine, Chile to Rio Gallegos, Argentina     03/30/11      Mileage: 223

It rained hard all night and into the morning, but around 9am it let up to a light drizzle so I quickly broke camp and packed up the bike.

Even in the light drizzle I was cold and wet by the time I finished packing so I rolled over to the Hotel las Torres to warm up and dry off a bit before hitting the road. Again it started pouring though…and even the roof in the lounge where I was sitting sprung a leak.

Finally around 11:30 the rain stopped and I made a run for the Argentina border. The road was loose gravel and again the wind was hounding me…pushing my bike around at will.

I stopped at a little cafe in Cerro Castillo for a quick bite and to soak up some heat from the wood stove before crossing back into Argentina. The border crossing was fast and straightforward…which seems to be the case for all of the small border posts I’ve crossed….the bigger ones are almost always more trouble and slower.

This German Shepard was the Argentina border post’s mascot…he was adorable…

Back on the road I rolled into Esparanza for gas and to ask the locals about which route to take to the Argentina coast and Ruta 3…the shorter but all dirt road or the longer but paved road. They unanimously said the paved road back towards Rio Gallegos…which I had passed through on the way to Ushuaia. So that settled I rolled down the road and pulled into Rio Gallegos early enough to run some errands to the market and to the bank. I also had to get 3 quarts of oil so I can do an oil change first chance I get.

Do you think you could find anything in this auto parts store? Yeah, I couldn’t either!  LOL

Tomorrow it’s back on the throttle north up the notoriously windy Ruta 3…

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Day 220 – Torres del Paine, Chile

Day 220 – Torres del Paine, Chile      03/29/11       Mileage: 0

It poured almost the entire night, but around 8:30 the sun poked out from behind the clouds while I made breakfast.

Then there was a sudden shift in the wind and within minutes the weather had turned cold and a driving rain began to fall. I retreated back into my tent and listened to the rain pound on rain fly. It didn’t let up so I caught up on my guide book reading and waited for a good window to break camp. Well, that window never came and it continued to pour into the afternoon. In the mountains near camp I could see the snow line had come down considerably from yesterday and was only maybe 200-300 vertical feet where I was.

 There was a hiking refugio a short distance away so I made the dash over there to continue waiting out the rain. I brought my laptop to plan out some GPS routes for the road north and sort through my pictures. It was apparent though that I was going to be here another night as even if the rain stopped it was now too late in the day to get any distance. Such is life…and there are worse places to be waiting out the weather…that’s for sure. Hopefully the weather breaks so I can get back on the road tomorrow…

Day 219 – Puerto Natales to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile

Day 219 – Puerto Natales to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile      03/28/11      Mileage: 112

After packing the bike I hit the grocery store for some provisions as I plan on camping in the Torres del Paine if the weather cooperates.

Puerto Natales…

That done I headed north out of town and the road ran along the water providing amazing scenery.

Soon it turned to dirt as it began to wind it’s way up a picturesque valley. It was hard to pay attention to riding with the amazing scenery, but the wind was gusting hard in spots which certainly got my attention back on keeping the bike upright and on the loose gravel road.

Farther up the valley, I came around a corner and there were the Torres del Paine in all their grandeur. It was the same sense of awe that I got back when I was riding with my friend Paul in Wyoming the first time we crested a hill and saw the Grand Tetons…the sight of them just stops you dead in your tracks.

….and a close-up.

Continuing on into the park I rode around the south side of the Torres (Towers) and stopped in many spots to enjoy the view.

 I made my way over to the east side of the park and found a campsite with the Torres towering overhead.

The famous torres (towers) of the Torres del Paine….

Hotel las Torres….way out of my budget….my sweet digs are below…

Tomorrow I hope the weather continues to be as good as it was today…