Tuesday, 10 May 2011

They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Visitors Centre

They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Visitors Centre

Glacier Perito Moreno,

Note after 3 days in El Calafate my bike is now fixed.

I decided to take a small detour and see the Perito Moreno glacier. By the time I had picked my bike up and loaded up it was 11.30, still it was only 50 miles to the glacier I wasn't worried. I was fighting a headwind, one of the worst since I had been out here, and it took me 4 hours to do 25 miles. I was just crawling along, soon I was in the Andes this helped break the headwind but now I was climbing and descending. It was almost 6pm by the time I arrived I had about 1/2 hour of daylight left, I’ll find somewhere to sleep I thought and see the glacier in the morning. It became apparent I wasn't going to be able to camp, I had been told when I bought my ticket absolutely no camping. I figured I might be able to hide somewhere but there was nowhere, it was either mountain or open and I would be seen. Oh well I thought I’ll have to go to the hotel, this turned out to be closed (it’s now out of season here). I went back to the visitors centre, by now everyone had gone apart from a guy cleaning. I ran through my options, I can't camp, hotel is closed, all the buses have gone and there is no way I can do 50miles back to El Calafate tonight. There was a large sheltered area between the gift shop and cafe I was sheltered by three walls and I had a roof over me. I got in my sleeping bag I was warm it would do.

At about 10pm a ranger found me and asked me what I was doing "waiting for the gift shop to open" I replied. I explained I had nowhere else to go and I was sleeping here unless he let me put my tent up "no camping no no no" he said. I shrugged and pulled the draw cord on my sleeping bag so only my face was looking out. He stood there "but it will get cold" he said, I shrugged again (I would be alright but I was hoping he would let me pitch my tent). He walked off and then came back and said "ok ill open the toilets you can sleep in there". Even better I had shelter, lights and heat!

The next morning I spent ages at the edge of the glacier, the front is 5k wide and 60 metres tall, massive chunks of ice fall off the front with loud cracks and booms as the glacier grows (up to 2 metres a day sometimes). All throughout the night I could hear it.

I was ready to leave and was just having a coffee when a different ranger found me and asked me to leave the park, I couldn't believe it, I was being thrown out. It wasn't my fault, there was just no way I could do 100 miles with a headwind and mountainous climbing in one day. On the way back it was easy the wind was still strong but a tail wind for me now the only downside was it was pouring with rain and I got soaked.

Tomorrow I start heading north again.

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