Thursday, January 7, 2016

Plans From The Tail of the Americas

Here's a quick status update on where I am and where I'm going.

For the last couple days I've been in Punta Arenas, Chile, where I am now gazing out over the Magellan Strait. As you'll recall from 8th grade world history class, Ferdinand Magellan was the first to sail around dangerous Cape Horn and he did so in 1520, dodging sea monsters all the while. Understandably, they love Magellan around here. Here he is along with his namesake Strait which is right outside my window.

I've met my friend Jamee here. Jamee works in Antarctica for a few months each year and I know her from Denver, CO. She works on a research boat and I took a tour of the boat this morning. Pretty cool, though most of the science was way over my head. Mostly stuff about water and microbes and fish and core samples of mud.

Tomorrow Jamee and I head north on a bus for 3 hours to Puerto Natales, Chile. From Puerto Natales we will access Torres del Paine National Park, another amazing spectacle of rock, ice and water. Hoping for good weather and more great photos to follow.

After 3 nights camping in the park I am heading back to El Chalten, Argentina where I was last week accessing Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy. For that is where my new bicycle awaits me!
I bought this bike last week from The Adventure Junkies Antonio and Amanda. They are a Spanish gentleman and California woman who have been biking around Latin America for over a year. I found them because I follow their website and they recently mentioned that they were biking around Bariloche, Argentina where I was a couple weeks ago. I reached out to ask if they or any of their readers knew how I could score a bicycle down here. It turned out that they are wrapping up the bicycle portion of their journey and that we were going to be in El Chalten at the same time. Pretty cool. So I am now the proud owner of a Koga Signature World Traveler bicycle. Koga is a Dutch manufacturer of quality bicycles. The bike has been well taken care of and I was able to acquire it with everything -- panniers, tools, spare tubes, etc.

With the bicycle my plan is to ride north at least to Santiago (about 2000 km). If I like it I will keep going. If I don't like it I will stop. I will ride along the Carretera Austral which is, for much of Chile, the only north-south road. It is 1200 kilometers of gravel, and if you know me then you know I couldn't be much more excited about that. And it'll begin, for me, with a 6k hike-a-bike up and over the border pass from Argentina into Chile and a couple ferry boat rides to get to Villa O'Higgins (as shown on map below).
As a result of its epic coolness, it sees a fair amount of long-distance cyclists and it sounds like most days I will see another. There are also plenty of small towns or villages along the way, so most days I will be able to buy food, and there are endless places to camp in my tent, which is what I'll be doing most nights.



Antonio said...

I am so glad we could find someone who is going to enjoy the bicycle and take care of it. Enjoy the carretera austral my friend!

Kirk Ahlberg said...

It was great to meet you, Antonio y Amanda. All the best to you in your adventures and I hope our paths cross again down the line.

samh said...

And now is the point that Sam get just a little bit jealous of Kirk. Stoked!!!