Tierra Del Fuego

January 14th, 2010

Eastern Shore of Lago Fagano near Tolhuin village

Today was my first full day of riding in Tierra Del Fuego, the Southern-most island of Patagonia. The landscape down here is just spectacular: Mountains, Ocean, lakes, forest, rivers, valleys … The weather during the day was a bit of a rollercoaster, starting rather unfriendly with rain and cold, but with a brilliant ending!

Looking back at Ushuaia after starting the long ride North

First I was doing some email and Blogging in the morning; since I had only 106 km planned and there are 17+ hrs of daylight I figured I wasn’t in a hurry. It was noon when I left Ushuaia with just a small snack and some fruit juice and water for along the way.

Looking at rainy mountains the start seemed ominous and gloomy

Right after Ushuaia the road turns inland and starts climbing up into a side valley. It started to rain and was rather chilly. While going uphill I stayed warm enough for my short-sleeved shirt and I didn’t bother with the rain gear yet. Here I was getting more and more wet and cold after just 10 km and briefly thought about the 10.000 km ahead of me in South America. But nothing is as constant as change, and that’s especially true for the weather in Patagonia. When I reached the Valle Hermosa after the first 300m hills a few patches of blue sky became visible.

Riding into the Valle Hermosa just North of Ushuaia

Then I had another period of rain and the climb up to the 400m high Paso Garibaldi; this was hard work again. That said, I was happy to ride uphill due to the generated body heat and also because I knew that beyond the pass it would get easier and probably even more scenic.

View North frmo Paso Garibaldi down to Lago Fagano in the distance

At the pass I met French rider Isabelle – she had come all the way down from Ecuador and was on her last day to Ushuaia! We exchanged high fives and took pictures, but it was too cold with the wind to linger. On the way down I put on my new GoreTex wind jacket which saved me from hypothermia. I had this weird fantasy of coffee and cake, but suppressed these thoughts quickly as I deemed it impossible to get such luxuries here in the middle of the wilderness. But sure enough, to my pleasant surprise, I came upon a new restaurant which was open and served delicious cakes with coffee!

Coffee break at restaurant Villa Macina

In addition, they had a wood-fired stove going which was very comfortable to sit next to (and helped me dry up my bike jersey in the process). So much for a lucky break!

And it was getting better: Now the wind was blowing nicely from the back and the sun was coming out. Going from rainy uphill to sunny downhill with tailwind – you have to experience this to understand how happy this makes the touring biker…

Another mountain range in Tierra Del Fuego

The scenery became more and more stunning now with the sun painting beautiful colors. And then I reached the Lago Fagano. The road follows its shores for about 35 km all the way to the Eastern end in Tolhuin (my goal for the day). I needed to stop a few times to take in the scenery and take pictures. What a great outcome of a day that started with rain!

Lago Fagano near Tolhuin in late afternoon sunlight

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