Wildcamp at Abandoned Police Station - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

January 13, 2023

Wildcamp at Abandoned Police Station

Today was one of wonderful highs and rather despiriting lows.  

We rolled out of El Calafate at nine thirty after stocking up with enough grub for four days. After the hills and the traffic getting out of the town we raced along thanks to a strong tailwind, at times cruising along at thirty kilometers per hour without needing to peddle. We passed a number of cycle tourists battling into the wind, including some of whom we had met in Villa O'Higgins and in other places along the way. They were having a torrid time and we were grateful we were going on the opposite direction. 

The big climb of the day, about six hundred meters, started at around forty five kilometers but the wind helped take some of the edge off it. At around fifty seven kilometers we stopped to have lunch at an AGVP station that had free wifi. It was one of the options we originally had in mind for a place to spend the night but we had already decided to try and make it to the old abandoned police station about twenty kilometers after El Cerrito. 

The AGVP shed with free wifi.
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Soon after our lunch stop came the highlight of the day, if not of the entire trip. A herd of guanacos that were close to edge of the road started moving up the steep hillside to put some distance between themselves and us. Suddenly, about fifty meters from us, a puma shot out of cover and tried,unsuccessfully, to bring down one of the herd. It was over in a matter of seconds but those few seconds were some of the best of my life.  From the unprotected viewpoint of a bicycle seat the puma looked a lot bigger and more powerful than I had expected them to be and for a moment we felt rather vulnerable. 

There were a number of large herds of guanacos on the hillsides. This isn't the one that came under attack from the puma.
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Scott AndersonWhat an exceptional experience!
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10 months ago
Jean-Marc StrydomHi Scott. The memory of the event is one that reminds me how fortunate we have been and will be with me for ever.
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10 months ago
Stopping after the puma attack to allow our adrenaline levels to come down.
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At the top of the climb the wind started blowing from the side and became too strong for safe cycling. We walked our bikes for a bit before continuing to cycle on the gravel verge to reduce the likelihood of being blown into the road. A few kilometers past the summit it had calmed down enough and shifted more to a tailwind again for us to get back onto the road and have an easier run down to El Cerrito. 

When we got to El Cerrito we turned westwards onto the atrocious ripio that leads to Tapi Aiki. It was only twenty kilometers to the old police station. If we knew what we were in for we would have spent the night at the AGVP station at El Cerrito because those twenty kilometers took three hours to complete. The wind was now almost directly into our faces and the ripio was bad enough for us to spend a lot of time walking the bicycles on a track next to the road. By the time we got to the old police station it was after half past seven and the wind had sucked every bit of enjoyment out of the afternoon. 

The old police station building is a perfect stopover for cyclists but there is currently a construction worker trailer parked there. The guy in the trailer was very friendly and kindly filled up our water bottles but the loud generator providing power to the trailer runs twenty four hours a day.

After a quick wash and an easy supper we hit the sack with the tent setup in one of the rooms inside the police station.   

Our digs for the night.
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Complete with table and chairs.
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The wind continues to howl as I type up this journal entry. It would have been much easier to stop at El Cerrito but here we are out of the wind and have twenty kilometers less of terrible ripio to endure tomorrow. 

Today's ride: 117 km (73 miles)
Total: 5,594 km (3,474 miles)

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Elspeth JarmanSUPER WOW!!!! We were blown away by your puma experience. Certainly once in a lifetime, you'll be talking about that for years to come. Sorry skunk, you've been trumped!
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10 months ago