Bikepacking Argentina: The Patagonia Express ( SEE THE WORLD episode 34)
it has been over 5 years since i started and argentina felt like a world away where are you headed?
I’m going to argentina well… it’s downhill for a while it took two years to ride across Canada, USA, mexico and central america and paddle across to south america then there was the rain of colombia the volcanoes of Ecuador the high Andes in Peru and the salt and the sand of Bolivia I had few months through the remote but beautiful Puna de Atacama in Northern Argentina and then over the Andes to Santiago (chile) I followed the greater patagonia trail south through the lunar landscapes and packrafted through some mountain lakes until… winter came thats when the dogs started following me so last night, i think was the most miserable camping ever so everything’s kinda wet, i busted out the emergency blanket just to keep things drier (and warmer) we went down the mountain with all fingers, toes and paws intact but there had to be a better way south i rested with the dogs and waited just for the right weather window to cross into Argentina in hopes of better weather i heard there was the old Patagonia Express where the steam train still roams the windy Pampa there is a bell that i can ring, i think otherwise, i mean i can probably swim it but its not gonna be pretty but then there was a bell and someone came and took me over… and there was camping here but when i asked to camp they said no, you should stay inside and they gave me this little… cabin, shack place that is actually dry there is a cat, which i am not sure is supposed to be inside or not it’s still very rainy so thats a bit of a problem but i didnt get too wet today i mean if i’m out now, probably would be pretty wet i’m kind of drying out some stuff there is this amazing stove, that works very very well so this would be very warm, very nice people i’m really not sure how the trail is going to go because i think there is a lot of snow still on the trail this is what happens to your bike when you have a horse ooh but you are so wet, i dont want to pet you i was supposed to go up there… but unfortunately, the man i stayed here camping, they actually let me stay inside they said “no you can’t go, it’s too dangerous, you’re gonna get hurt and i was gonna sneak out in the morning but i felt really bad lying to them so i’m just gonna head back and you know take more roads from here on now and also tonight i am getting a dinner treat from Tina & Joe Stiller from USA and they are like “yeah we need to send you something” and they are the guys who gave me the BarYak and the harness and i’m thinking its gonna be this special piece of gear and they had this note and they are like “we’re gonna take you out to dinner” and this is premium chunk white chicken and idahoan four cheese instant mash potatoes
which are a work of art i think i’ll like it here
and these clouds they look okay and it looks like they are very thin clouds so they might evaporate so we have nice stars or sunshine tomorrow here we go, we are in Argentina no! we’re in Patagonia! and we’re going south although following the mountains has more or less defined my journey so far riding along the foothills was also amazing just far enough to be out of the reach of rain and snow but close enough to appreciate them in the vast argentinian pre-cordillera somewhere hidden between the trees and always looking for the sunrise i did 20 kilometers on the ruta 40 but riding that with a fatbike and lots of traffic just wasn’t too much fun i was off again toward the countryside and the patagonia beer trail (from bikepacking.com) but i wondered, how things would be in the winter no… for the rear hub so thats the story with the rear hub its spinning whichever direction it wants to i’m just gonna ziptie/metal wire it to the wheel and that should work at least for a little bit there is a helicopter flying up there the good news is that the road is frozen, no more mud the bad news is that my bike is also kind of frozen so it might be tough to get moving or sliding but we have one 1480 meter pass which could have some snow but hopefully its more solid and then another one and then its all downhill so we can see about getting the drivetrain going again but for now, the easiest (way) is to have the chain up here so here we go, Patagonia Beer Route (trail) it’s more like Patagonia Mud and Snow route i havent had beer yet so we are nearing the city but i think the main problem is what i’m gonna do about the drivetrain the driver (or freewheel) i dont know if i can try to fix it but i can wash it if there is a pressure wash somewhere and worst case i’m gonna bust out the zipties… or buy some zipties actually and ziptie the heck out of it hey dog, dont take my zipties (the hardware store just has a giant speaker to the outside and plays music when its open) after all the rain and snow, i was finally on the old train tracks the narrow gauge line stretches from Engineer Jacobasi to Esquel it was flat and a little overgrown but with the current freewheel problem, the train tracks were the least of my worries the distant dream of Ushuaia, now seemed too far away but for now, i am sure i can make it to Esquel, even if i have to walk it nice white horse dont be afraid i am your friend! and to this day, the Patagonia Express survives only by tourism the Trochita, offers a glipse into the past where the telegraph and the steam ruled the Pampa and The Andes this is how much is has been raining today… we are attracting.. ducks got the lake here and there’s ducks over there it literally rained cats and dows and sheep and duks yesterday almost 20 hours nonstop rain,
there was a big lake here there were ducks, wildlife taking advantage of the lake, it’s like a seasonal… [thing] so heading out today there should not be more rain and i’ve been cabin sitting for few days, kind of waiting for a train and there’s four of these dogs and they are all very smart when they see you, they dont bark at you they bark at their owners so that they can see that there is somebody here the very very good news is that we actually opened it up here and its not ideal because one of the teeth was broken but i think it should work to patagonia (i mean ushuaia) there is still some things to replace, like 2 spokes when i get to a bikeshop the guys in chile that kind of ruined my bottom bracket they put it together without a spacer, like there was so much space that was empty and *they* went for lunch, so i was like yeah i cant go back there that still needs to be fixed and hopefully there isnt too much permanent damage there and just like a dream, the train disappeared into the fading colors leaving the calm night and the imposing silence of the Pampa behind exhausted from the wind, i sleep in until the sun shines way up high into the abandoned cart i pack up and leave the train station slowly as the great patagonian winds continue their endless journey step by step across the tressle bridges and greeting the telegraph birds perched along the way climbing up toward the pass in the morning sun with the birds above, and the cows
and the guanacos there is still a long way to go and i wonder if my iron horse would make it all the way