Rio Manso (Camping Los Nires) - The eighth step ... Patagonia etc once more. - CycleBlaze

January 8, 2020

Rio Manso (Camping Los Nires)

It wasn't as cold as I expected when we woke up this morning but the snow was even lower down the mountains than it had been the day before.  We planned to ride only as far as the campsite called Los Nires, given than the weather forecast would suggest it wouldn't be too bad, otherwise we would stay an extra night in Villa Cerro Castillo.  Los Nires is only 12 kilometers out of the village but is after the first big climb so it makes it easier to spend only one night wild camping on the way to Rio Tranquillo, the next town along the Carretera Austral.

The weather forecast suggest a little rain for today with strong westerly winds.  The rain should clear tomorrow but the winds would remain strong from the west.  So we decided to risk the chance of rain and head for Los Nires.  Tonight and tomorrow morning promise to be bitterly cold.

The little gorge through which the Rio Ibanez squeezes outside Villa Cerro Castillo.
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We left the village sometime before noon after stocking up with at least two days worth of grub.  The 200 meter climb out of the village is now a sealed road.  Last time we road it it was really rough ripio and Leigh had a bad fall on the first downhill resulting in a deep cut below her knee.  Within a few hundred meters we stopped to don extra clothing because the wind was freezing.  I cycled on in a technical shirt covered by a woolen t-shirt with a down jacket on top of that.  Last of all, my Gore-Tex jacket to keep the wind and rain out.  Initially this kept me a little too warm but that would change later.

The snow covered mountains looked lovely ...
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... but the sopapillas were appreciated more.
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About five kilometers up the climb we found shelter in a cutaway and hunkered down to enjoy some sopapillos and strawberry jam.  Sopapillos are fried dough balls, very similar to what we would call vetkoek in Soutb Africa (direct translation "fat cake").  Lots of kilojoules to take us up the hill.  As we were finishing up the heavens opened and from there we struggled on in icy rain.  To top of the climb was at about seven kilometers from the village and then we rushed down as fast as the headwind would allow us to Los Nires.

Camping was now our second option and we hoped that the single cabana they had was unoccupied.  Luck was on our side and after a negotiating the usual rate oif 60K down to 50K we moved in the spacious house.  It sleeps six so it is overkill for the two of us but it is a little luxury we can occasionally afford.  It has a great fireplace, hot showers and fully equiped kitchen so we have more than we need.  Rosa and her husband are the most helpful of hosts and made sure we are warm and comfortable.  The rain continues to bucket down as I type and this is one of the more fortunate locations in which to find ourselves given the weather conditions.  Martin had left early this morning hoping to cover the 120Km to Rio Tranquillo in one day but I fear that even for a tough young guy like him it might be a bridge too far.  If he had been with us he could have enjoyed the warmth of the cabana.

It is going to be pretty cold tomorrow but an early start will be on the cards because it will be more than fifty kilometers of cycling into the headwind before we turn south.  

UPDATE: While making supper in the comfortable kitchen in the cabana I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing!  It melted pretty much as it hit the ground and it didn't snow for long but the trees a few hundred meters away showed a light dusting.  Who would have thought that this would be happening when just a week ago the mecury was in the mid-thirties.

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Today's ride: 13 km (8 miles)
Total: 750 km (466 miles)

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