A few hundred kilometers, a few more days – time and distance are becoming inconsequential – and I’ve reached the end of the ‘road.’ A rough track comes into the north of Villa O’Higgins while Chile’s deepest lake isolates the village from Argentina to the south.
This last section has been the most remote of the trip. No food or accommodation for days, really cold weather, some rain and wind. A lot of wind. According to the GPS maps of Chile the road should have ended about 230km north of here.
The next step is to cross the lake into Argentina. Unfortunately, the rumors along the road about the ferry not being operational are true. There are other travelers that have been waiting for the ferry for some time – it’s been almost 2 weeks since the ferry last crossed the lake.
Some guys tried to leave town a number of times after their ferry-waiting-patience came to an end. Their first attempt ended with a broken rear axel so they walked back. Yesterday they got a lift with a 4×4. The 4×4 had 2 flats and had to return to town for repairs. They left again this morning….
So I’m doing what it seems most travelers that manage to get here do – wait for the ferry and discuss alternative ways out. At this stage there are only 2 alternatives for me really:
Option 1: Go backwards about 250km and enter Argentina on a road there.
Option 2: Go through the Rio Mayer Pass. A few kilometers before town there was a track going east which climbs up the Rio Mayer valley and ends near the top – about 25km up. From there it’s possible to hike around 20km, crossing the river on a log-bridge, and pick up a similar track that drops down into Argentina on the other side. Check the photo’s below – someone drew me a ‘map’ of where these trails are.
The problem with option 2 is that, even if I find that hiking trail and the track on the other side, I’ll still have well over 200km to cover from there until the first town that has food or water. I’ll also be leaving the cold mountains behind and crossing the Pampas, which will be really hot and windy.
Option 2 is clearly the more adventurous option and the obvious choice.
However, first prize is to cross this lake to the South. I’ll stay a couple days and see if I can find another way across the lake – I’m sure there are entrepreneurial fisherman that are willing to negotiate a deal. Or the ferry might be repaired (although I hear now that the captain is out of town too, so this option is fading fast.) If I can’t cross the lake, I’ll head east through the pass and down to the pampas.