|2013-10-09 click for more photo's|
09/10/13 Stage 40 Meteorite Crater to the East side of the Volcano Thupan (bush camping)
It's funny how some days are never quite what you expect the to be . We knew the whole day was going to be on ripio and that the afternoon was going to be mountainous with a 30 cm washboard surface, predicted to be the worst that we had encountered so far. As it turned out the morning was incredibly difficult with long sections of difficult washboard that slowed us down to 6 kms/hr on the flat. Teasingly the old road which was much smoother ran alongside but it frequently disappeared or was sandy. The final 15 kms into Salinas were very hard and we had a couple of occasions when it took both of us to push the bikes up the slope and through the sand.
Salinas de Garcia Mendoza was the halfway point and the last place to stock up with food and water before wild camping again. Fortunately there was a slightly better choice than in Quillacas and we even found some fruit and vegetables. We had intended to take the route around the west side of the volcano but the locals said that the eastern route was flatter and quicker if the mudflats were dry which they were. So unlike most cyclist we headed east. There were a few difficult sandy sections getting on and of the mudflats but essentially it was not too difficult and very pretty . So contrary to expectations the morning was hard but the feared afternoon section was not too bad.
Just starting the climb over the pass to Jariri we passed through a small hamlet where an old lady collared us and chatted . Very hard to understand but very keen to talk and give us her local drink made from guinoa. She was sorting them on the floor. It would have been rude to refuse her hospitality but it took all of our courage to drink it. It looked very dirty and suspicious and believe me we're not fussy. Still, we survived. I think guinoa is about the only crop that grows around here (between January and April at the moment there are just bare patches of land)
Legs were getting tired by this stage so we completed most of the climb and found a flat spot on the slopes of the smaller volcano to camp. Lots of Alpaca's came to investigate but then went further down the sloop where it looked like they were being fed. Fortunately it was very quiet and we only heard three vehicles the whole time we were there. Hoping the volcano remains just as quiet.