or Does a shitty day really exist?
Patagonia, with its harsh and unpredictible weather, could be the right place for experiencing a shitty day. For this you need two naive cyclotourers and some spices like “the absence of a good place to pitch the tent” (resulting in no other choice than pitching the tent next to a dry river bed as this is the only flat spot in the are) and all this taking place at spring time, when the snow on the mountains starts to melt!
So how does a shitty day start? It starts with emerging out of some bad dreams of getting flooded after a night of rain drops hitting hard the tent. And while the rain pours on, one urgently has to get out of the tent (and his warm sleeping bag) to relieve himself of some natural needs. Going out in pajamas and a rain jacket is never fun, so that’s a good start!
It just started like that for us that dreadful 4th of November 2008, just 12km after Rio Bravo on the latest stretch of the Carretera Austral. But that day, after stepping out of the tent, we quickly forgot about relieving ourselves or the coldness or even the water falling from the sky. No, that day we saw a river bed that was no longer dry, and that was wanting to leave its bed, just like us. In no time, we passed from sleepy-mode to panic-mode and never before we packed-up our things and unpitched the tent so fast. But now we had a river to cross to go back to the road!
Still not completely awake after this fast start, we fancied crossing this river cycling! Just having some fun like back in New Zealand! Great! We remembered too late that the river was made of loose gravel and small rocks which made it impossible to cross it on the bike. By too late we mean, we had to step down from the bike with one foot in the icy cold river and trying to keep our balance so the other foot and shoe would stay dry. After quite some gymnastics for such an early morning, we managed to remove our shoes and crossed the river. Later we would realise that all this effort hadn’t been worth it, as one hour later the remaining dry foot/shoes was as wet as the other one, thanks to the rain (you remember, we were still cycling in an all-natural shower).
But that is just the start! Cycling in the rain is no fun at all, it means that the landscape is hiding behind the clouds or that stupid (so-called) rainproof hood. So, you can only admire your handlebar and your hands getting that neat glacier blue colour. That was the Day where we met the rain Gods and no “so-advertised” guaranteed to keep you dry jacket could match those mighty Patagon Gods. And as we were guaranteed to be wet to the extreme by those Gods, nothing was spared up to our most inner piece of clothing.
That was a really bad day and worse (yeah we know, that is a lot of bad, worse, etc. but we do not even exagerate it!) was that the temperature was pretty cold (100m above our head, it was snowing, not raining), actually so cold that at a point we were not so far from hypothermia. And that is when we passed by a road-workers settlement (campamento entre rios on the last stretch of the road to Villa O’Higgins). They were having a rest next to a fire and we came by asking if it would be possible to dry a bit here and get warm again. For a couple of hours still we were shaking from the dampness of our clothes and the coldness.
So shall we call it a day? We mean a real shitty day?
Mightier than the Patagon rain Gods are the Patagons themselves. The road workers gave us company, attended the fire so we would be warm. They prepared hot bread and shared it with us, and then later even shared their evening meal with us. They offered us shelter for a night so we could go on afresh the next day.
So the Day we met the Patagon rain Gods was not a shitty day after all. But a day of enjoyment and of sharing some humanity with others. And we were even more rewarded the next day by a beautiful sky and a fantastic journey to Villa O’Higgins. The landscapes, the day before hidden, were now marvelous and we could enjoy them. Perhaps, as long as there will be some humanity, a shitty day cannot possibly exist.
Jean-Christophe & Vera