The morning started with promise that the sun would reappear. Sadly that would not be the case.
Today we rode only 85 km but climbed 4600 ft. We were heading back to Chile after 2 days in Argentina, on our 2nd crossing of the 2nd highest mountain range in the world.
Steady rollers greeted us taking us gradually upward until we reached the Argentinian Checkpoint where we had to show our passports.
Interestingly, the international borders between Argentina and Chile consist of Checkpoints, a ‘no man’s zone’ and Customs.
First checkpoint on Argentinian side. We decided to wait for the rest of the group and support vans before proceeding through. While we waited, fellow riders Brent and Sarah and I, saw a little lake to take a photo of. Brent and I were chomping at the bit to get going and ended up locking horns…
We are issued this It is a flimsy piece of paper that looks and feels like a grocery receipt. If I lose it, I can’t leave the country….seriously! So it goes in my passport for safe keeping.
The Fun Starts???
After clearing the Checkpoint, we started riding through the ‘no man’s zone’. It was a 22km climb, averaging 6.8%….oh, and it started raining! And of course as we ascended the Passo Internacional Cardinal Antonio Samore, it got colder. At the summit, it started to rain harder, and continued like this for the rest of the ride.
A forest of dead trees….drenched and cold as we were, it was more like the night of the living dead!
At the summit, it began to rain harder and get colder.
A ‘Chilly’ Chile Again
The descent was long and fairly difficult for 4 reasons: it was steep, road surface was rough with numerous potholes, a cold wind chill and did I mention it was raining hard??
The hackneyed expression, “any day on a bike is a good day” is a fallacy.
So we get to the Chilean Customs stop, and takes us about one hour to get cleared. They issue us another piece of paper after waiting in a long line to have passports inspected. I am getting lots of stamps in my passport! Then we ride about 200 yards and hand in this piece of paper(roommate Jesse didn’t hand his in, that is why I could get a photo)
Before we could clear customs and enter Chile, we had to either eat or throw out ALL fruits, vegetables, meat,cheese and snacks like potato chips. So wet and freezing, we all wolfed down whatever we could.
Puyehue-Cordon Caulle Eruption
On June 4, 2011, there was a volcanic eruption that began in this area at the Cordon-Calle fissure, after being inactive for 51 years. At least 3.5 million people were evacuated from nearby areas. An ash cloud formed, covering many cities in the Southern Hemisphere. This included Bariloche where this trip will end, but also Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Stanley, Cape Town, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Wellington and Auckland. Airlines were forced to cancel thousands of flights. It was a Rank 5 on the Volcanic Explosivity Scale.
Termas De Peyehue
The Puyehue National Park is a 117,000 hectare tract sitting in the foothills of the Casablanca volcano. Geothermal waters collect from 5 different sources with water temperatures from 41C to 54C ( 106F to 129F).
The baths were first used in 1907 when a consortium led by Conrad Hubach improved the hot springs. In 1910, the hotel was built and is where we stay tonight. The hotel has a capacity of 100 rooms, and originally guests were transported by steamboat on Lagos Puyehue from the town of El Desague. We will see this tomorrow.
Outdoor pool at 104F
Constant steady rain looking out our room’s window
Immigration and Customs in Argentina and Chile is pretty simple, just watch fellow rider Harold’s explanation!
Please support The Allie Sunshine Project’s initiative Biking4Benches