Saturday, 12 April 2014

Santiago To Malarque To San Rafael

Having got our big service and things sorted we left Santiago, with good advice from some fellow riders we avoided the main drag.

Leo had suggested a route through Paso Vergara then turning left over a shortcut pass.

The first part of the ride we railed down the main road turning off into shingle towards the border, this is a mining road so pretty good nic allowing good speeds.



Reaching the Chilean border we clocked out per usual, with the weather looking unusual and the wind picking up we rode the 17 km to the Argentine border only to have the beady eyed customs guy saying we did not have the paperwork we needed??? WTF????



The Chilean guys had taken our paperwork so we were told we had to go back to the Chilean post to get the correct papers, I was unhappy as it was full of sandpits and the wind was horrific making riding bloody hard, the wind was ripping up sandstorms and twisters with speeds that were fast enough to pick up stones and throw them at us bouncing off us and Maya.

Making it back to the border and chatting with them they said no we do not need the paperwork and the Argies were wrong, to be fair I was starting to get agitated, in the end they gave us a photocopy and wrote to the Argies saying they don’t need it but here it is with our stamp.

That night we stayed at the border in the bottom building which was droughty and cold ...but dry.



As the evening progressed the weather tipped with very heavy rain, as the rain slowed down ... the snow settled in .... ouwh no.

We listened on wondering if the road was going to be washed away or passable, the temperature dropped like a stone testing our sleeping bags...which passed the test.

As morning appeared it was clear that the weather storm had created a few issues for us.



The pass up and over to Argentina was looking ominous with smatterings of snow which were slowly getting thicker and more drifts.



It wasn’t long and my riding ability was being tested with 100 - 300 mm snow on the racetrack, being we were climbing the pass it was as slippery as an eel and very hard work.

We ended up cleaning off nearly two km of road down to dirt to gain traction, I did try and play the snow off but the snow won .....Maya tumbling to the floor and me “I spray the snow with heidenau and walk away”



Yes this is the moment of the get off, I just wanted to check the snow on the left



House and some contents off to reduce the top weight we picked her up.

The method was to clear the rest of the road at least where the steeper parts were then ride the middle in the fresh snow as the traction was good there.



The top nearly in sight



It was easy sailing with fresh snow and almost flat



Cresting the pass was good however we had 2 - 3 km along the top before heading down .....this is where we got stuck in a 300 mm deep section about 100 meters long and slowly but surely we ran out of traction and we started to head up the last dreaded section.



We had almost decided to turn back when a Landy Discovery turned up and said we had clobbered the worst and there was less.

The road started improving which was a godsend





Although the raod was still 200 - 300 mm deep in places without vehicle tracks etc it was easy enough to get through



Managing to wrestle Maya to the crest we decided to take there good advice and continue on into Argentina making it to the border building again less than impressed with them... they knew this and were being a little less obnoxious, for me it was a lesson in anger management as I was want to smack the beady eyed idiot however I wanted more our paperwork so we could continue.

Finally getting our entry stamps and the piece of paper was still useless to them (and they knew it but sensed I was NOT riding back again) they let us pass, turns out the aduana is not there so it would have made no difference if we had ignored them and carried on.

In order to calm nerves Ellen fed me to keep me “out of their way”, lunch over we carried on playing bulldozer, at one point the drifts were half way up my my boots on the footpegs, we bashed through them one by one with Maya getting in at pace and chugging out the other side.... so much for less snow however to be fair the guys in the Discovery had stayed at the thermals so did not know the snow depth where we were heading.

Eventually we made it out of the snow laden ground, our new found challenge was the sodden clay from snow melt which saw some scary tank slapper moments and us weaving across the track.



Finally we got down onto dry ground and corrugations ( I will never whine about corrugations again) which made life easy other than the usual teeth chattering but not from freezing conditions or snow this time.



All bar one bad sandpit with wind it was nearly plain sailing



The valley down was a cruze to the aduana with some stock moving moments, the aduana normal and friendly, TVIP and stamps we set off to Malarque, the road getting better and better turning to tar ... almost felt like cheating!!!!

Arriving in Malarque we found a hostel with a bed, pillows and hot shower..... very nice I have to say.

With a good kitchen we knocked up a good feed and quit the night early.

After a big sleep we wondered off to destination Finca Rita, John and Annettes in San Rafael.