Río Cajón Wildcamp - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

December 17, 2022

Río Cajón Wildcamp

By the time we went to bed last night we were starting to doubt the decision to spend a rest day in Villa Cerro Castillo because a strong westerly wind had started blowing and the forecast was for it to blow even stronger throughout today.  This morning the other three cycle tourists in the campground looked as perturbed about the change in the weather as we felt.  Willie, the Swede, was determined to make it to the next campground which lies eighty three kilometers from Villa Cerro Castillo but the two Germans, Henri and Cristof, had the same plan as us which was to wildcamp around halfway.

We were the first ones on the road, getting going at about nine thirty.   The Germans still needed to stock up on groceries but Willie soon caught up to us as we struggled into the wind and up the climb to the mirador on the southern side of the Rio Ibáñez.  The wind was blowing about fifty kilometers an hour and gusting even more.  Willie had never experienced anything like it in his life and appeared shell shocked.  Leigh was the most sensible, just steadily walking her bicycle while Willie slowly disappeared westwards and I strained to ride EFI but making only a few hundred meters at a time before either having to stop to catch my breath or being blown off my bike by the wind.

After fourteen kilometers, at the end of the two climbs for day,  the paved road came to an end.  From here until we reach El Chalten in Argentina it will be ripio all the way.   The first seventeen kilometers of ripio was under maintenance and was as awful as anything on which we have ridden.  

The narrow gorge just outside Cerro Castillo through which the Rio Ibáñez squeezes.
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"Two two two to Christmas" was Leigh's chirp as we passed this sign. Despite the dreadful conditions she was still able to keep her sense of humour and perspective.
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The Valle Ibáñez from the mirador at the top of the first climb.
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The dreaded sign after fourteen kilometers.
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Up river from the gorge the Rio Ibáñez is wide and shallow.
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There was still no sign of Henri and Cristof so when two cyclists became visible in my rear view mirror I stopped,  expecting that it was them.  But it was a Dutch couple who had spent last night at Los Nires campground jabout ten kilometers from Villa Cerro Castillo.   They were unsure how far they would go but were also hoping to make it to the next campground.

We stopped to take our first lunch at a bus stop and the Hollanders carried on.  It was only later that I discovered that I had forgotten our second lunch at the bus stop when we stopped to eat it later in the ride.  We had to resort to biscuits and dulce leche for second lunch in lieu of the left over curry that we had hoped to enjoy.

We caught up to the Hollanders while they were having lunch at a bus stop a few kilometers further on.  Willie was also there and he had resigned himself to having to wild camp somewhere because the chances of making the next campground  seemed rather slim.

A few kilometers from the turnoff to Río Cajón the Dutch couple caught up to us again.  It was about three o'clock by this stage and they were going to push on up the climb.  We stopped to have second lunch and this is when we discovered I had forgotten it behind.  It didn't matter too much because half an hour later we were at the orange suspension bridge across the Río Cajón and the water was on the stove for some coffee and mate.

We have a semi-secluded pitch near the bridge.  It is wonderfully quiet and the noise of the river drowns out most of the vehicle noises from the Carretera Austral which is about  five hundred meters away.

The orange bridge, a popular wildcamp marked in iOverlander.
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Our tent, nestled beneath the trees just to the left of the end of the bridge,is almost invisible.
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Two vehicles have passed over the bridge, one of them which looked like the farmer whose home is just a few hundred meters away.  He gave us a friendly greeting so we assume he is happy for us to camp here.

Today's ride: 38 km (24 miles)
Total: 4,731 km (2,938 miles)

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