Monday, December 03, 2007

A Different Route To Baños De Colina

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Saturday, June 30, 2007

Legend has it that it is possible to ride up past the end of Av. Las Condes, as if you were going up to the Farellones ski centres, and then buzz up into the cordillera via the Ermita de Las Condes, riding on beautiful mountain trails.

It is also said that the gate is guarded by a cranky and fickle old woman. Some bikers manage to win her over, some are sent packing.

Run, Rodrigo and his brother, Chico and I presented ourselves outside the gate one bright and early morning, hoping to be let through. A young lad came out to greet us. Despite our multi-man persistence, he did not let us pass. Well into this exchange, he revealed that the animals would be coming down the trail; they were being herded down for the winter. Rodrigo tried seducing him with promises of gold and forty virgins, but he didn't even blink.

And what to do then? We talked quite a while about alternatives. We finally decided to go to the Cajón del Maipo once more; this time we'd try to get to the Valle de la Engorda, near Baños de Colina. So we set off.

A beautiful day.

Chico loves fossils, so we stopped at a place that sold them.

A short detour to the waterfall.

You can walk behind it.

An amazing variety and quantity of moss adorned the stone wall.

And we went on our way.

Somewhere around Baños Morales we crossed the river, and bounced around the tiny gathering of houses until we spotted the old road to the Valle de la Engorda.

On the other side of the valley, Cerro Catedral.

This road was no longer in use, and you could tell.

Some of the fallen rocks were quite large.

We carried on our way, up and up, at times riding carefully alongside steep dropoffs, wondering when the snow would cut us off.

There were a few losses of balance in the snow. The longer the rider's legs are, the less falls he has in the snow. In my case, I dropped the bike only once, mere metres from the spot where we would be forced to turn back.

Rodrigo had an advantage: his bike was fitted with knobblies. He managed to break away for a while.

This snow was different to that we encountered on the ride to the Santuario de la Naturaleza. Here, it was much harder, at times covered in a thick layer of ice, and puddles were generally just flat sheets of ice.

Rodrigo's impression of Han Solo in carbonite.

It was time to stop: the bikes simply did not have enough traction in the snow. Advancing a metre or two took minutes on the ice.

I walked up ahead to see what there was. Ice, ice, nothing but ice.

Down we went, and we hooked up with the wider and newer road to the Valle de la Engorda, and that branches off the main road some 3 km before Baños de Colina.

There was a bit of light left, so we went off to investigate the plaster mine, the same one I discovered a few months ago.

The mine had ceased all operations for the winter, and the main access road had a large pile of dirt dumped across it. Covered in snow, it was hard to determine exactly what its shape and composition were.

I gathered speed, and tried getting over it. My bike got stuck halfway. Rodrigo gathered speed, rammed it, and got stuck. Chico grumbled something about this being child's play, and...

A nice set of three asshats decorating the pile of dirt and snow.

We trampled down a section, and managed to get over.

Snow eventually cut us off, so we went over to the Baños de Colina.

And there, as we chatted in the fading light, a cometocino landed on my mirror, and had a look at us.

It goes without saying that it was really fucking cold. The lower half of my jeans was stiff with ice; it felt like cardboard. When we got to the San José de Maipo petrol station, Chico pointed out my mini-stalactites.

Cold but happy, we rode home.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gracias por compartir tus vivencias. Ójala mi XR también pudiera disfrutar de vuestros magníficos parajes.
Por cierto, la calidad de las fotos es envidiable.

Un abrazo desde España.

4:05 PM  

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