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Thoughts on Cycle Touring Southern Patagonia

The Patagonian Wind Monster Strikes Back (Part 2)

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All right, everyone. It’s time to listen to Part Two of the Patagonian Wind Monster, the horrible beast that tormented the Long Haul Trekkers for weeks on end. 

After escaping the Patagonian Wind Monster in the town of Punta Arenas, Chile for a few days, Dave, Jen, and Sora attempted to take a bus to the next town, Puerto Natales in order to skip several hundred kilometers of the winds’ forceful gales.

When they showed up to the scheduled bus, the driver became frazzled over the amount of luggage they carried and claimed that it would be impossible for them to take the bus, despite what the station had told them.

It seemed even the bus system was against poor Dave, Jen, and Sora, foiling their plans to fool the Patagonian Wind Monster.

Begrudgingly, they pressed on.

For two days, they fought the wind, constantly blowing at a steady force of 45kph, blowing them off the road every several hundred feet. They hid behind the large wheels of a parked semi truck and hunkered below a hill for lunch in order to hide from the relentless beast who slowed their pace to an embarrassing 6kph.

Even waking in the wee hours of the morning proved futile, for as the Long Haul Trekkers began to load their bikes, they began to feel the familiar tickle of the Patagonian Wind Monster on their necks.

The Patagonian Wind Monster appears even in the early morning.

One morning however, Dave, Jen, and Sora awoke to an eerie feeling. The air was calm and quiet. The trees stood upright and the grass no longer danced. They could hear one another without shouting. The Patagonian Wind Monster was gone!

Taking advantage of his absence, Dave, Jen, and Sora pedaled as fast and for as long as they could. They reached Puerto Natales in two days, covering 162 kilometers, a record for them in this horrifically barren land with little character beside the wind.

They rested a few days and set off for El Calafate, Argentina. Fellow cycle travelers assured them only 500 kilometers stood between them and the end of the Patagonian Wind Monster.

The end was in sight.

And then the Long Haul Trekkers experienced two more instances of strange occurrences.

Along the road to the Chilean border town of Cerro Castillo, the wind blew strong, though not nearly as forceful as before, but along this particular route, kind estancia owners constructed small shelters containing a bench. They were everywhere! Dave, Jen, and Sora had never been so happy to find so many four-walled constructs in their lives.

Shelters in Chile block the persistent Patagonian Wind Monster

After crossing the Argentine border one morning, the Patagonian Wind Monster beckoned the Rain Gods to join his pursuit in punishing the weary cyclists. As soon as the clouds began to shoot ice-cold spears from the sky, numbing the faces of Jen and Dave, and while the wind whipped them from the side, a truck pulled over in front of them. The driver rolled down the window and offered them a ride to a town 125 kilometers away!

Hitching a ride to avoid the Patagonian Wind Monster

An hour later, they reached their destination, profusely thanked their savior and began to assemble their bikes, when yet another strange event took place – a woman who drove an empty van offered them a ride all the way to El Calafate! Feeling a bit like cheats, Dave and Jen nearly declined the offer, but the Patagonian Wind Monster roared so forcefully that afternoon, they knew better than to let this opportunity slip away.

This left them with just one leg remaining – 250 kilometers before the Patagonian Wind Monster supposedly ceased, let them remember how to ride in peace and solitude, allowed them to enjoy their bicycles once again.

Leaving El Calafate for El Chaltén, Dave, Jen, and Sora encountered yet another peculiarity, something they had not met in some time – a tailwind. For 30 kilometers, the Patagonian Wind Monster actually helped them cycle towards their destination. They felt so grateful and thanked the Patagonian Wind Monster, believing they had made amends.

Leaving early to beat the Patagonian Wind Monster

But one left turn later and they learned of the trickery of the Patagonian Wind Monster. He was no friend! He blew so powerfully they weaved back and forth on the road, ducking at passing trucks who only made the wind stronger, setting them off balance.

Oh, how the Patagonian Wind Monster delighted in their struggle! Battered, Dave, Jen, and Sora found an abandoned building next to a river. Shelter!

After exploring the building, they learned it was a mere oasis, for the wind seemingly blew from all directions and dead animals lay rotting around the perimeter. The nearby trees provided no blockage from the Patagonian Wind Monster and the ground was littered with spiky plants that stabbed their feet and Sora’s paws. The Patagonian Wind Monster roared loudly until late into the evening.

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They eventually set up camp once the wind died down, and departed early the following morning. At the strike of 2 o’clock, the Patagonian Wind Monster returned, rejoicing in Dave and Jen’s groans as they struggled to pedal downhill.

After two hours of fighting the wind, they came upon the Casa Rosada, an abandoned hotel where cycle tourists find refuge from the evil forces of the Patagonian Wind Monster. There, they found the walls covered in graffiti from cyclists come before and by the night’s end, nine cyclists in total called the cracking abode home.

Thoughts on Cycle Touring Southern Patagonia, La Casa Rosada Cycle Tourist Refugio
La Casa Rosada Cycle Tourist Refugio

The entire group of cyclists awoke at 5AM with the hope of beating the Patagonian Wind Monster. The plan worked for only a few hours – how foolish were the Long Haul Trekkers believing they could outpedal the wind! One left turn towards El Chaltén sent them head on into the throes of the wind, eventually defeating them. Once again, they sought a ride from two kind strangers, just to be rid of the Patagonian Wind Monster once and for all.

Little did they know the monster would follow them to El Chaltén, trapping them in the small mountain village for days while storms blasted inhabitants with 120kph gales, hiding the iconic Fitz Roy from view.

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This last leg of the journey put Jen, Dave, and Sora to the test. It tested their strength and their willpower, ultimately helping them to realize one important lesson: If it’s not fun, then it’s OK to hitch a ride.

 

Jen Sotolongo

Jen is the Chief Storyteller and Photographer for the Long Haul Trekkers. Born with the travel bug, she has lived in Spain, Chile, and New Zealand. When she’s not galavanting around the world by bicycle, she is running long distances in the woods, exploring nature, or whipping up delicious vegan meals. She is always planning her next adventure.

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