Just about every step of our detour away from the Carretera Austral, across the Andes and into Argentina remained shrouded in uncertainty right up until the point when our tire tracks stretched along the road. Or track. Or path.
For starts, the road we took south of Corcovado, Argentina, was not on any of our paper maps. Only my MapearExtremo GPS basemap indicated there might be a road heading south along the Rio Corcovado. When we crossed into Argentina near Palena, a chilean policeman swore to us that our planned return route, over Paso Las Pampas, was in such rough shape that it would take three days on a horse to cross between Aldea Las Pampas back to maintained road at Lago Verde, Chile. The Argentine borderguards, on the other hand, confirmed that there was indeed a manned border post at Paso Las Pampas but that we would have to cross three unbridged rivers, which he assumed would be swollen by the rain.
To complicate matters, we had only 100 Argentine pesos (about $10), and we would not pass through a town with a bank. Unable to exchange Chilean pesos in Corcovado, we spent all our money on rice, bread, and butter to (hopefully) get us back to Chile in two days.
But, as often is the case, our departure from the beaten path was rewarded with the best riding. We were passed by less than 10 cars over two days. Having unexpectedly climbed up to 1200m (from 200m), up gruelling switchbacks, nearly to treeline, we were greeted to the heights by two giant andean condors. We left the road for a few hours to cut off a completely superfluous descent and climb, riding along cow trails, hoping they were taking us in the right direction. This was Panthea’s first time really mountain biking and the loaded bikes didn’t make it easy.
The “impossible” trail from Aldea Las Pampas to Lago Verde was entirely manageable on bikes. In fact, it was such a highlight that it inspired this post. Here are some pictures.
Out small detour into Argentina spit us back out onto the rainy Carretera Austral 68km south of where we left it, some 300km later. Since then, we’ve made our way down the Carretera to our current location at Puerto Rio Tranquilo, 220km south of Coyhaique. That just about puts us to 2000km on the odometer.