This route through the El Tromen Parque Provincial is a real diamond amongst the rough that can be Argentina´s Ruta 40. For a long time during this trip I spent my days slowly climbing uphill on dirt roads, with very little traffic and the only company being those people that lived off the land; these days are now however an exception that must be savoured. This is an alternative to the Ruta 40 and is the more direct route between the village of Barrancas and the town of Chos Mala, taking you right to the foot of the El Tromen volcano.
I enjoyed this ride so much and took so many photos that I thought it deserved it´s own blog post.
I am trying to keep this blog going which is tough now that I no longer have a laptop, this is also my excuse for any typos and tardy mistakes.
We got up a little earlier than usual as we had a substantial climb ahead of us, the biggest of Charmian´s trip so far. We headed out of Barrancas (1,120m) for 2km before joining the ripio.
The quietness strikes us from the beginning, we see 2 cars during the whole day.
With gentle gradients we make good progress.
I love the fresh green and flowers of this spikey plant.
After lunch the volcano comes into view.
This floral moss is like wallpaper.
The road is rough and steep in places and we pass through a stream. All is rideable.
I meet Charmian at the plateau after the steep section. !Vamos Charms!
After so long riding the plain pampa I am rejoicing in the mountain colours.
We have reached a plateau and there are just some gradual climbs now. It´s fresh up there.
Oh I love volcanoes! The lava fields are dramatic and impressive in their own right.
The high point is at 2240m and we were tired by the time we reached the top. We expected this turn by the lake to lead to the Refugio but it lead to some small holdings. One of the gauchos there invited us to camp on his land.
Nestled amongst the dry stone walling we were tired and fell asleep before darkness hit around 9.30.
The changing light of the early evening.
The following morning the unassuming and mild mannered Jose tells us about life as a gaucho and shows us some of the birds that live on the lake.
The laguna colorada is serene.
Black necked swans.
Jose is a very special person who I feel honoured to have spent time with. He teaches us about his life, this small holding has been in his family for generations. They spend summers here and when snow comes in winter they head down with all of the animals to another small holding in a different valley at a much lower altitude.
Jose´s nephews have come up from Chos Malal for the holidays, they watch eagerly as he saddles up the horses ready for a ride. They tell us they would like to be gauchos when they grow up.
Gauchos have many horses.
I notice this horse shoe, and think about how lucky I am.
This is what Argentina is to me.
We pass Cerro Wayle.
There is some more climbing before we begin our descent. The views are so open, we can see forever. We feel quite sad to arrive in the desert town of Chos Malal (930m), our volcano adventure is over all too quickly.