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crossings

CHILE/ARGENTINA: VILLA O’HIGGENS — CANDELERIO MANCILLA — EL CHALTEN

Lakes, borders, bridges: there are always crossings to be made.

The route between Villa O’Higgens and El Chalten is somewhat famous or infamous, depending on your predilections.

The boat out of Villa O'Higgens is loaded with tardy cyclists. I miss the other, cheaper, boat by a matter of hours, arriving on the evening of the day of its last voyage for the season.

Crowd scene: twenty or so cyclists, disembark and load up...

... before gradually stringing out along the road...

... to the border between Chile...

... and Argentina.

single track

The road stops at the border and then the real fun begins.

...

...

Heavy loads and thin tires don't work so well here but the group I find myself riding with are a hardy bunch and discover that most of the trail is pretty rideable without any remarkable bikes or bikepack styling*...

... with only the occasional dismount for trickier sections.

The evening boat is cancelled due to inclement weather but the following morning just about everyone piles into another boat to cross Lago del Desierto.

However, Karen and Mike, a Canadian couple I met in Villa O'Higgens, and I stay behind. We backtrack on foot in search a French couple on a heavily loaded tandem to help them with their multiple burdens...

... and all get back to the lake in time for the evening boat.

* None of us felt the urge** to try the trail by Lago del Desierto as an alternative to the overpriced boat, though.

This option sounds pretty arduous by any standards but a group of five, not particularly lightweight, cyclists heading north did, in fact, emerge from the trees some time in the afternoon looking pretty damn shattered after a full two days of hauling bikes and gear through this 12 kilometers of more or less un-tracked lakeside forest. Power to them!

**Actually, I did feel the urge – but I didn’t do it.

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