Friday, 28 January 2011

Cool Nights and Warm Days

The words are a promise in a guide book and like a ‘manna from heaven’. The prospect is for relaxed daylight breakfasts and afternoon cycling without the pressure of early termination due to Zonda winds or dessicating heat. The possibility of regular resupply of water and the chance to camp on grass, of lakes and running rivers. The novelty of solid butter and the colour green.

The reality is sheepskin gloves and buttered toast for sun up, wrapped in a duvet for sundown. We’re not complaining; you only have to find a few shafts of early morning sunshine to feel the prospect of a warm day. The shade is cool, the sun hot, what a wonderful, refreshing reality. Sitting on soft, thorn free grass, in a cloud of parilla smells, of cooked beef and charcoaled wood, the air so still that the fug is held, trapped in the pine trees.

This clean cut green and the crisp hard blue will last as long as we stay high, up amongst the mountains, amongst the snow fed lakes. Yet move an hour to the right, to the east, drop off a few contours in elevation and the change is dramatic. The hillsides are more rounded off, the cliffs more eroded, it’s an older, more dated landscape. Everything is spikes and thorns, hooks and needles, where your skin is a pin cushion. It’s gone from wet green to dry dun. From mountain to pampa. It goes dry and the temperature takes on a new meaning. The rios are empty, the deep rooted fastigated poplars are the indicator of a history of a running river. The afternoon sun is harder, more threatening and now we will have to accumulate a fresh supply of water carrying bottles.

We start to move between these two worlds, dipping down from Caviahue to Chos Malal, from a mountain lake and Aurucarias to a scrub of thorn and eight kilos of bottled up water.

With apologies, the photos will not load at the moment.  Look back later!  The Navigator