Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week 11 Patagonia – The final countdown...


To ensure continuity with the dreary theme of last week, we were again battered with the most appalling weather that Northern Patagonia could muster. Spirits were at an all time low during the week, but rather than bore you with verbose descriptions of the multitude of miseries we were put through I thought I’d share some entertaining sidebars that have helped us pass the time.

Speaking of time, it seems that our proximity to departure has conspired with the weather to slow the passage of days down to a crawl. Although I’ve been sans watch for the entirety of the trip the time keeping monkey residing deep within my hippocampus has slowed his cymbal banging to a once a minute thud. A stark contrast to the staccato beat that has till now underscored my time here in Chile.
Roof manjar in all its terrible glory

With the new crew well and truly settled, the crowded rooms have given rise to a sickening phenomenon which can only be described as roof manjar. Named for its resemblance to the Chilean delicacy first described back in week 5, this disgusting ceiling dwelling scum seems to grow overnight, achieving full coverage by the morning before shrinking back during daylight hours. The source of this phenomenon has left our crew’s best biological minds baffled, and the speculation over its origin has filled many hours of the working day with entertaining banter.

Perhaps the most exhilarating part of track building is rock rolling, which has always been the default option for extreme trampers looking to add some ‘pow!’ to their hike. This past week we have been working under bluffs, which pose a risk of rock fall but also a plenitude of roll able ammunition. We justify the destructive and exhilarating rolls by setting out to only roll rocks which pose a threat to the long term safety of the trail. The hard graft to dig out the boulders only serves to build anticipation, and with some brutal persuasion from rockbars, picks or spades, rocks finally topple end over end. They build speed before launching off rocks and careening off bluffs to the fields below, trees crashing in their wake. Rolling rocks awakens a primal amusement and it is usual to see the whole crew cease digging in favour of gawking at the destruction in morbid fascination.

Preparations to roll Behemoth are well underway

Last Friday while clearing a slip from a river side trail we happened the largest rock rolling candidate we had yet encountered and duly dubbed it the Behemoth. It took the best part of a morning to uncover the full girth and our best estimates put its heft in the order of four tonnes. It then took four good men with spades to edge it over the brink where rather than roll it slid, gaining momentum before a final lurch into the air and a splash into the river below. The demise of Behemoth was even captured on film, so all can relive the destruction in vivid multimedia colour.


Those who know well of my bike obsession will know I’m particularly fond of a certain fully suspended trail monster by the name of El Terremoto. He has performed flawlessly here in Chile and this past three months has topped off almost three years of good times shredding the gnarlier trails around NZ. The business running things here in Chile is buying up crew member’s bikes and offered a good price to part ways with the ‘moto. So the least I could for its faultless service was give it a solid scrub behind the ears removing the accumulated scum of 3 months of Patagonian winter. It’ll be sad to see the tail end of this awesome bike  but his spirit will live on in a new bike based around an El Chucho frame. Combining the look-at-me rollability of a big wheel in the front with the tight wheelbase and ginga-whipping abilities of a 26er in the rear it should make for a deadly trail machine to rival the huckability of the ‘moto.
Accumulated gunk in the 'moto's chainrings.
Safe to say life in Chile had been far from easy!

This will be the final report from Patagonia but keep your eyes peeled for some adventures in the mountain bike meccas of Moab, Fruita and Winter Park, USA. Even more adventure is likely instore after that with a three week cycle touring mission along the Nepalese Annapurna circuit on the cards. Thanks for following my adventures so far and I hope to catch up with you all when I’m back in the relative warmth of New Zealand!

Mountain Pedaler out...

1 comment:

Karen said...

Yeeeeeah - Awesome rock rolling efforts. Enjoyed reading your blog, as always :) K