As we left El Chalten, we met Dan. He just got to EL Chalten and was leaving with us. Nice lakes, bad ripio, a puncture for Ben, mosquitos, choripan, and $US30 later we were on a ferry toward free camping on the north shore of Lago Del Desierto. A nice place with the most impressive landscape and view I have yet witnessed. Mount Fitz-Roy at dawn and dusk. In the morning after the night of fires, camping, swimming, and meeting other bike tourers (one a cool canadian), I left to begin the epic 23km border crossing. Alone, as Dan was so slow getting ready. As per usual. Good thing I left quick-smart anyway, the track was muy dificil, and if it weren´t for Bob, I would have begun following the completely wrong track, and out here that means helicopter rescue or death.
Bob and I struggled on through a tough patch of boggy swamp. It was a slog. Bob and I were a hastily-assemblem team but not always together. He left me behind on the uphills due to the weight of my bike, in spite of my muscley youth, and I passed him on the downs due to my wheels and gravity. Bob photographed me stupidly hauling my bike over some logs over a river. There surely was a bridge there once. Don´t know why I didn´t take my bags off the bike and make two trips over the ford. Bravado, I guess.
So for the next four of five hours I man-hauled that steel bitch over some over the worst "track" ever built by man, whether it was or not, I don´t know, maybe built by sheep. So many rocks, so much, so deep, a swamp!! Oh no, another hill! Sweating profusely. Shirt now covered in white sweat-salt ridges. I had my Icebreaker shirt on, the camoflauge one, so even if I´d have keeled over from exhaustion my body would have never been found. I passed six other cyclists coming the other way, having a merry old time. Had thir luggage hauled by horses for the price of two beers. Why hadn´t I done that? Two beers at the end of the trip and the bragging rights would have been worth it, thats why folks.
The last of the biscuits were gobbled by Bob and I at the remains of an Argentine barracks abandoned and left over from some pointless war. Danny caught us up. Didn´t wait for him to finish his lunch, pushed on to Chile. Obligatory border sign picture and at last, a road! Shite, but navigable and semi-rideable. I followed the track forever, seemingly, then hit a summit and a worthy view. The camino verred earthward sharply, and I crashed my bike due to my still-poor cycling skills, and got a rock in my left hand, sharply. Same place as in other hand, the Copenhagen rock, back to having symmetrical hands again at least. Put one glove on my left hand as I had no plasters, so looked a bit Jackson.
Made it to the Cabiñeros de Chile to have my pasaporte stamped for entry. Stone face. Guard had as much personality as my chain-grease rag and less usefullness. Swatting away countless biting horseflies and vampiric mosquitos, then giving up a la the Germans on D-day, can´t stop a relentless horde, hydra-like, crush one and two replace it. I pulled my hat over my head and slept, waiting for Dan to catch up. Had a dream warning me that Dan was approaching. Woke up to Dan approaching. Uncanny. After his similarly stony experience with Captain Stonewall, we rolled to Candillario Mansilla, the house on the south shore of Lago O'Higgins, bought some homemade pan, and camped and cooked, waiting for the ferry north in the afternoon of the following day, and for our horse-bound friends Belarus and Swissduex to arrive. At 8 they arrived. Slack. Here Dan and I had all our kit, and we arrived at 5pm. Their gear, tent, etc; was another hour later. Apparently the horses had broken down. The guy loaded his truck with the stuff and brought it here instead. His truck was on it's last legs too, so many sounds coming from a machine that should only be making one sound - "brrrm". No, that truck wasn't going to simply break down. Whenit's time had come, it was going to explode into a fiery Hiroshima-esque wreck. Danny and had a good chuckle about all this, then passed out. Exhaustion, but worth it.
Turns out Bob sprained his foot falling down at almost the same spot I caught that rock in my hand. But he toughed it out. Finished the walk. What a champ. The next day was a rare rainy one.
Met hikers who had just arrived. Ten of us all crammed together into a tiny hut at a tiny dock. Had a stove inside. Smelly but homely. Belarus couldn't handle it for more than an hour, left the hut and found a dry spot beneath a tree. Probably wanted some alone time. I tasted teabag coffee. Didn't regret it, as it was at least kind of coffee, but didn't ask for seconds. Ferry was due at 4:00pm. Heard reports it was due now at 8:00pm due to some unsurprising delay. Cooked cheesy pasta for dinner at 6:55pm. Ferry got in earlier so had to angrily scoff the half-cooked pasta quickly. Too cheesy. Paid the whopping $80US for the 3.5 hour ferry and ate all their biscuits. Watched a documentary in Español about Villa O'Higgins, our destination. Very dull. The ferry dock as it turns out, was 7km from town. It was 10:30pm. I wasn't going anywhere. Pitched in the carpark. The others did the same.