THE ALTERNATIVE AUSTRAL

Feeling energised by the surroundings, I was back on the quiet ripio road the next morning.

By lunchtime, I’d reached the simply-named town of Doctor Atilio Oscar Viglione and set off on what promised to be a novel and fun crossing back to Chile.  This started with two stream crossings, followed by lifting my bike over a procession of fences that had been run across the old track that I was taking!  Unbeknown to me, they had actually built a new road, but this was a lot more fun…!

Soon, however, my route merged with the new track and, after several gates, I arrived at the picturesque little border post of the Argentine Gendarmería Nacional.  Formalities dispensed with, I made my way across a few more river crossings of increasing size…

And, not long after, rolled up to one of the most informal frontiers so far, a simple gate marking the passage into Chile…

My route would head directly South on a 4×4 track shortly after the border but, first, I had to descend a few kilometres down to the town of Lago Verde to get my entry stamp at the Carabineros and stock up in the relatively plentiful Chilean supermarket.  Climbing back out of town, I found a camp spot and set up the tent, realising a little too late that my peaceful site came with a plentiful serving of Patagonian mosquitoes.  Just a case of cooking up dinner as soon as possible and retreating quickly into my mesh sanctuary…

A short climb the next morning and I was back at the turn-off for my next mini-adventure, a 2-day 4×4 track running through fairly remote mountains, following notes kindly put together by Dan & Gina (Fatcycling).  A long series of gates had me getting quite proficient at the balancing act required to open a double gate, manoeuvre the bike through and then close and lock it without leaning the bike up against something (other than me)!  The track weaved through beautiful woods and farmland, before emerging into a relatively barren area that had clearly been ravaged by wildfires in the past…

Then the road dipped down into a gully, crossed a stream and kicked up… at a viciously steep gradient!  The loose, rocky surface made traction difficult and also gave way to mud in places, meaning that I had to resort to pushing and only managed to ride about 25% of the first climb.  Whilst the first section was relatively old double-track, much of this section appeared to have just been bull-dozed through the woods/mountainsides and then a whole lot of rough rock dumped on top!

After cresting the climbing and descending a little on an equally sketchy surface, the track meandered through the forest at the base of the valley, regularly crossing over a beautiful clear stream…

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