Monday, May 12, 2008

National Park Nahuel Huapi

Thursday 8th

Weatherise the day dawned clear and bright, panic wise things were also heating up. Last night I returned to the hostel to find my room locked and my stuff gone. Tracking down the owners revealed that as the only occupant of one room, I had been moved to another. I now shared with 3 others, my room was locked down to avoid spread of the contaminating ash. My gear was also locked down in a potato storage cupboard. I knew not why, but I could not move it to the new room, questions elicited emotional responses way beyond my limited understanding....

Next morning, more paying guests were turned away as the cleaning and packing up continued apace for the owners departure. Hasty plans were being made for the other 3 remaining guests departure as well.

When suddenly it all changed. There were 500 litres of drinking water in the tank and the place had a well, it was revealed. Full buckets suddenly emerged for washing and toilet flushing and the next guest to arrive was accepted as the place was unexpectedly reopened. I waited over an hour for the potato store to be reopened as well to reclaim by panniers.

I left Joe, Halad (2 Israelis) and the chaos very very late for beautiful clear blue skies pondering on an interesting stay at Hostel El Molinito...

National Park Nahuel Huapi was on my list of must see destinations in Argentina, alpine meadows, 3500m peaks, glaciers, lakes and rivers. It´s got them all and I got the day of days to see it.

Michael had left the previous day to save cash by camping and to try and keep ahead of the ash, so I was back to solo cycling for the first time in a while. We agreed to meet at a lake 95kms away, or in Bariloche failing that.

Another just gorgeous days ride with 2 tough climbs as I moved further in to the Andes, the first from some 400m up to 1000m, before descending dramatically again at glorious speed through incredible vistas. I tarried shamelessly to goggle and gape at awesome picture postcard scenes and to wonder at my newly acquired powers of invisibility. Judging by the number of near misses I was suddenly getting with passing traffic, invisibility was the only explanation.

Until it became clear that I was a human chameleon. My ghost like grey apparel was blending in seamlessly with the ash covered foliage of the background and drivers could no longer see me. I pondered whether to use this amazing power for crime or for good deeds.... But then I also pondered on some fairly crap driving....

The next pass was a killer, a low gear grind for 13kms to crest 1250m, small beer for what´s to come, but enough for today. I managed about 85 of the 95kms I needed to make to meet Michael, but it was getting dark and freezing cold on roads eclipsed from sunlight by looming peaks. I needed to descend fast and pitch camp and then I found beautiful Lago Guillelmo next to a no camping sign. It was dark so I didn´t see the sign, just the lake. Another beautiful campsite....


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