Lakes District: El Bolson a Pucon

Okay. We still have not posted photos. We have finally found internet though. So Watch out!

I have been reflecting on the brokenness of this trip in the last few days. Between the two of us we have broken a lot of stuff this trip. To date the list looks like this:

  • Near new exped mat ( successfully warrantied thanks to Iba and Jenny acting as international mat smugglers)
  • A very old exped mat ( unsuccessfully warrantied due to its oldness.)
  • The brand new nemo mat we bought to replace the ancient exped mat. Repaired the leak we found but have failed to find the other secret hidden leak that leaves one of us on the floor each night.
  • Holes x2 put in bottom of Chris’s canvas backpack. Successfully repaired with trusty seamgrip and gaffa tape
  • Holes x2 put in hilary’s only pants. Repaired with tried and tested needle and tread ( thanks to Lee Sen for giving us the sewing kit)
  • Broken pole segment of tent. Repaired as per manufacturers instructions. Broken some more. Repaired with help of Spanish climber at backpackers. With the trusty gaffa tape and emergency pole repair sleeve with another helping of gaffa tape on top.
  • Hilary’s $10 front handlebar pannier bought on ebay. Velcro attachment points broken on 2 separate occasions and repaired at trusty Chilean shoe repairers. Status: currently appears to be holding on by a few threads. Longevity questionable.
  • Hilary’s watch. Stopped working. Unknown problem. Multiple attempts to replace battery failed. Status: given up, using the sun and moon to judge time.
  • Hilary’s phone. Was given an icy bath in Rio Pollone. Status: May cost more than its worth to fix. Hilary has given up using phone.
  • Chris’s laptop screen crushed by bouncing up and down on ripio for last 3 months. Ironically screen broke on last day of significant ripio riding. Status: laptop still operational but somewhat annoying to use.
  • Rackpack pannier hole repaired with seamgrip and gaffa tape as we have gotten into a rut of repairing everything with seamgrip and gaffa tape
  • Chris’s down jacket suffered ember attack whilst cooking on campfire. Repaired holes with needle, thread and you guessed it… seamgrip!
  • Hole in Hilary’s “raincoat” aka known as a coat one wears when raining. This definition does not include any reference to the garments ability to prevent the user from becoming wet. This is in part due to small hole in middle of back ( repaired with seam grip) but more likely due to mass delamination event resulting in small particles of h2no water proof membrane falling off coat onto the track/road whilst in use. Current percentage of jacket with membrane still attached to jacket less than 75%.
  • Chris’s new rainpants repaired with gortex repair patch. Hole incurred only an hour after Chris boasted that he had managed to not damage his new rainpants during main hiking/alpine section of trip.
  • Chris’s sleeping bag liner. Torn to shreds. Currently only covers lower half when in use. Status: unable to be repaired. To be retired upon arrival home.
  • Chris’s sunglasses. Likely broken. Location: somewhere downstream of where chris fell into a river at which time the glasses fell off in sympathy.
  • Most of Hilary’s clothes are no longer the same colour. Mainly due to poor wardrobe planning resulting in tops in shades of off white and light blue being included on the trip. The only garment unaffected is the brown travel dress and black pants. All other clothing is turning various shades of grey and brown.
  • Hole in camelback repaired with bike puncture kit
  • Hole in wine bladder repaired with the universally useful seamgrip and gaffa tape.

Synopsis carry seamgrip and gaffa tape everywhere you go!

I am sure I have forgotten things. Aside from breaking things we also have been doing things. We have been doing a lot of cycling and munching of late. The lakes district is full of resourceful locals who can make tasty things and sell them from their houses/farms/side of the road. It makes cycling exciting as you never know around the corner could be some cheese, bread, honey, marmalade or cake!

We started off in El Bolson, it was a slow start. We hung out in this relaxed place for 3 days eating icecream, drinking beer, Hilary’s went for a day hike to a local swimming hole, Chris did some work. Finally we packed our bags and hit the road. Over two days we covered 150kms to reach Bariloche. We immediately got sick of the big town feel with traffic lights, traffic and generally lots of people. We sampled the tasty goods they had on offer ( beer, pizza, chocolate and cake) and promptly cycled out of town. We spent the next week wild camping by lakes and rivers stopping in towns such as Villa Angostura and San Martin de los Andes to munch our way through all the tasty pastries, coffee, beer, icecream and chocolate they had. As Chris said “Cycling has never tasted so good!”

We also took a dose of culture just outside of Villa Angostura. The local rodeo was on! It was like watching a car crash over and over again. The local ambulance service was there eyes glued to the scene (so that they knew the mechanism of injury they were treating over course!). Men ( no girls) young and moderately old jumped on the backs of young untrained horses and used a leather whip to make the horse jump about. Most only managed to stay on for a few seconds!

Just before crossing from Argentina to Chile we made a detour to a hot spring 12 kms down a 4×4 track then 4km on single track. The detour took a whole day and we were relying on the word of a random man we met in El Bolson at our camp kitchen who had raved about this place. And he was right! Amazing! So out of the way that you barely had to share it with anyone else. The hot water emerging into the river and with the help of a few logs placed downstream a natural pool had formed. It was quite hot. Only spending  20minutes at a time in there before sitting out for a while. Eventually we returned to the road and the next day we crossed the border into Chile again.

We bordered a ferry and soon after disembarking found a brewery! We stopped to have a second lunch of pizza and beer (or pisco sour for hilary) before rolling 5km down the hill to camp in a little village called Neltume. This place had a great little feria combruista ( food hall) with tons of stalls of Chilean cuisine. It most 99% meat dishes but still cool to hang out and see families and friends gathering over food. The campground here backed onto the local river where everyone hung out in the shade to avoid the heat. It reminded me a lot of days spent in my teens hanging out in Bright during the summer!

The next day we rode into a town called Conaripe. We had intended to continue on to Pucon the following day but we were so taken with its bakery and lake that we stayed for 2 nights. Having a rest day sampling local cheese, icecream ( red wine flavour!) and baked goods and swimming in the lake in the afternoon.  The place was full of locals enjoying the beach, stores filled the main drag with pool inflatables and swimming costumes. It has been great to spend a week or two in the lakes region where a majority of tourists you meet are either Argentines or Chilenos. The whole place has an atmosphere more chilled out and at the same time crazy busy!

The next day we rode on to Pucon and found the coolest hostal to stay at. We immediately felt at home as the tour passed by a swimming pool where someone was learning to roll a kayak and there was a slackline setup over the pool too! We spent two nights there hangout by the pool and chilling on the couch. We went on a day hike up Cerro San Sebastian which offered amazing views of the areas volcanos and lakes. We found real sourdough bread and great pizza too!

Just as our holiday days are coming to an end Chris and I recount how this is our holiday from our holiday! Chilling out by the pool, eating ice cream, going to breweries, pizza, couch time with popcorn, reading. Its been pretty good to wind down before we head home to moving to UK chaos yet again.

We are about to run an exercise in logistics! Bussing to Mendoza with bikes, picking up our cargo and bussing to Santiago with bikes and cargo. I see headaches and bribes to bus drivers in my future…

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