Sunday, December 6, 2015

San Martin de Los Andes to Pucon Chile loop

Besides wanting to see Chile and the lakes and volcanos, the objective of this loop was to officially change ownership of the truck.  This involved exiting Argentina as a "borrowed" vehicle,  quickly exchanging the license plates while between the two boarders, then entering (200 meters and around the corner, Chile as owner of the truck using my US (actually the State Montana) title and registration.  When crossing the boarding back into Argentine I would be using my plates and my title.  Ya and it worked, kinda, eventually.  I made it back to Argentine so it must have.

This picture reminded me of driving in Eastern Washington after visiting Lachlan and Charlotte at Whitman College in Walla Walla Washington which is East of the Cascade mountain range in the Northwest part of the United States.

I have experienced a sheep drive in NewZealand, but never an actual cattle drive by horse.  It's actually quite noisy, smelly, with lots of yelling and throwing of rocks.

A terrified calf, separated from it's mother, got of into the green swampy grass to the right of the picture.  The ground was too soft for a full size horse so they couldn't go and get it.  So they threw  rocks at the calf until it finally moved.  Reminded me of throwing rocks at a frightened and confused puppy.

This is the volcano that dominates the area and kept me awake Friday night with it rumbling.

Notice the plates are those from the previous owners.  People seem so disappointed that I am not from the Netherlands that I am anxious to get their lettering and flag decals off the truck.  This means I try to peal of one letter every day or week or whenever I think about it.  My goal is to get them all off by next spring (specifically not specifying the hemisphere).

Notice the very nice gravel road.  You can drive 40 k/hr on a road like this !!

Leaving Argentine.  Only issue was I did not have a vehicle registration card (in the former owners name).  This caused some delay but they finally let me go.

This is the very helpful and friendly boarder guy from Argentine.  After we determined that I did not have nor would get the registration, and he gave me all the completed paperwork, and as a matter of personal interest, asked to look in the back,  (glad to... no problem), only to discover a fire in my home and the space filled with smoke.  I opened the windows, put out the fire (caused by the paper towel roll falling on the stove which decided to turn it self on or maybe note turn itself off properly)... in any case we got everything put and aired out and I was on my way to the the next boarder.....

Fortunate all evidence of a fire was removed so if anyone asked I can deny all...... what fire ???

In this picture I had just replaced the license.  What a cool feeling it was to put my own plate on the truck, with the fresh mountain air (inside still smelled like smoke), the strange trees, and the volcano in the distance.  Very cool, a feeling of things falling into place, resolution.

I got through the Chilean boarder crossing but not before my diner and breakfast were stolen, and met this great guy going the other way on his bike.  We enjoyed the sun and talked for a long while.

I took this picture of the volcano evacuation route as a joke, but that same night I awoke to the sound of the volcano throwing rocks around.  It was so loud I could not get back to sleep.  I didn't hear any alarms so I decided a good pair of earplugs would do the job.   The sound was exactly like that time on the main fork of the salmon river, when we camped next the that large tributary, and you could hear large boulders bouncing down the river bed, except much louder.

 I looked online and read about the major eruption that happened just last year and they evacuated the entire town.

My campground, which I stayed for 4 days writing this blog, is behind the trees just under the snow covered volcano.  In the 4 weeks I spent in Argentine I never had a fast enough internet connection to do anything but read email.

Ok so this is a food picture.  Totally remarkable because food is way way down on the list of interesting thing (eating is like brushing teeth,  it cost money, waists time, is rather unpleasant, and  the only reason to do it is to prevent an even more unpleasant thing from happening in the future)......anyway ....  look at what's inside this crusty half pie shell thing !!! smoked salmon and cheese.... all for about $5 ... 

Rafting in Pucon.

 The rapid ratings were accurate with several class 3 rapids...  fun !!

Here is our guide who taught snowboarding at the pass !!

This is the horses front

This is the horses ass.... and I kinda feel like one too.  The horse is thinking... ok this is the deal, I carry these overweight tourists  up this hill, that they are too lazy to hike up, (I carry them down much faster), but I get to eat and rest where I want to.  No where in the contract does it say I have to poise with my head up for your stupid picture.

In this picture the horse is thinking ok dude, will go over here for a picture but remember I got 6 feet of gravity I can use on you anytime I feel like it.......

Here is the water fall that was our goal.  Of course one must go swimming in all water falls.

On the drive from from Pucon Chile to the Argentinian boarder crossing I pick up this hitchhiker who it turn out worked at the this amazing hotel made of wood.  A seven story spiral staircase with rooms on the outside.   I stopped for a wonderful breakfast. 

 I had to back The Beast up as it was too big to drive through the entrance.

Totally awesome couple, Mat and Shari, who I road the ferry with and the met up, after my 4 hour visit with the boarder control, at a lovely camp site at the opposite end of the lake that San Marin is on.  Mat and Shari have spent the last few year biking from, I think, Alaska.  We had a very nice fire and saw 2 amazing clusters or kinda like large clouds of stars in the southern sky. 
The Beast on 1.5 hour the ferry boat ride down the lake to the Argentinian boarding crossing in the mountains.  Note, The Beast is as big as the blue semi-truck next to it !!! 

At the boarding crossing back into Argentine they were convinced that I was smuggling drugs.  After 4 hours of poking and drilling holes in the bottom of my camper, they finally gave up and let me go.

This was the event of the week or maybe month at the crossing.  Police, army (in green) and various other agencies unknown.  I spent the time reading in my favorite blue chair with my 16,000 pound winch as a foot rest.
Here they are hard at it.  I think the onlookers were as amused as I was. 
But now they are all my friends.

Here is the spot I met up with Mat and Shari.  I had the wall opened up.  The picture does not do it justice.  Quintessential Argentinian bandit camping: no people, a lake to rival anything in the North West (expect you can drink the water), fish jumping, perfect weather, gorgeous mountain views. 

I spent 2 days there in paradise.  Lamenting the fact I had no boat (my kiteboard does not count), I thought to myself... wait a minute.. I am the boat.... so I donned my dry suit, walked up the river, and off I went through the rapids down into the lake ending up at my camp site.

The next morning I was back at San Martin de Andes but my "whatsup account" was not working and I couldn't get in touch with Fernando for a bike ride so after getting water, gas, and groceries, I headed south to Chalten to meet up with Panos for hopefully some rock climbing and hiking.


  1. Hi Brian. Just finished reading the last two posts. What a wonderful adventure! Look forward to follow what you have experienced since December 6th. Keep it up friend!

  2. Hi again my friend. Awesome loop and boarder-crossing stories! Love reading it all. Hey that's a super nice New Zealand Team America's Cup hat you're wearing - gee I wonder who gave that to you!?!? Brings back great memories of our time in San Francisco during Sept 2013.

  3. What the name of this amazing hotel made on wood ?