Thursday, May 26, 2016

From “Duckless” Canyon into The White Mountains.

We head out towards Canyon del Pato. We plan on riding back-country roads for a few days in order to get there. The destination is plugged into the GPS and we follow obediently. Something feels wrong. Something is not right. The many twisties completely throw off my sense of direction but about an hour later I hit the brakes because the position of the sun tells me we are not going the right way. Damn. Upon zooming in on the GPS it shows that it somehow had created a different route than we had planned the previous day. We were heading for the ocean instead of South through the countryside.
Very easy to lose your sense of direction here.
Another "twisted day" ahead of us.
Maps, MAPSME and GPS are combined to come up with a new plan.
We are so far into the wrong direction, that no one feels like riding back. We decide to keep going. Luckily the road turns to dirt for a while and we are awestruck again by Peru's beauty.
This little hole in the wall led to some stunning views.
Emergency stop. What are we doing wrong ending up on these roads all the time guys! ;)
Matt hugging the wall. And rightly so!

The road from Contumaza to Cascas is definitely another one for the bucket list!
This one is for you Nancy O'Neil!
Most local buildings are made of mud bricks.
Get it over with guys!
A few hours later we ride South on the Pan American. It is ugly and straight. Although the pavement is very good we feel like we are missing out on some slow but beautiful Peruvian country roads. The traffic in Trujillo is terrible and we can’t wait to get out of the place. As soon as we can, we turn right onto a shortcut that will take us close to the canyon and away from all the madness, away from the smog. We find a nice place to camp next to a river. The mosquitoes are abundant but we are in nature again. 
The one thing we did like about Trujillo were the mosaic covered walls of the university.
Yes, they did the whole wall in tiny pieces of colored chips!
What a masterpiece! Now if they could hire the same brilliant mind to deal with the traffic situation... please!
The road we wake up to ride the next day is absolutely horrendous. Big sharp rocks, loose sand, truck tracks and lots of corrugations make up the surface we bounce around on. The scenery on the other hand, is otherworldly. The fast flowing river has carved its way through pastel colored rock surfaces that go sky high on both sides. When we finally make it to the official road of Cañon del Pato, the road actually gets better, albeit, narrower and steeper. Where there is no space for a road through the Cañon del Pato, a vast network of tunnels enables us to keep going. Sometimes the mountains hang over our heads as a ceiling. What a playground! The fast flowing river does not look like a nice place for even the bravest of ducks so how it got the name Cañon del Pato remains a mystery to us. (If you know, please enlighten us!)
The way they work the rice fields blows my mind.
Once the dirt roads turned to tar and the dust cloud of the "Unknown Roads" cleared, the camera came out.
Glad we did not encounter this guy in one of the long, dark tunnels.
The guys found an open tunnel into a hydro electric plant. Armed and dangerous they went on a reconnaissance mission...

They were able to get quite far but the guy in the orange vest spotted the alien invasion and sent them out. :)
And the fun continued
It was like riding in a painting.
Not to be missed when in Yungay! Great food and service for an amazing price.
In Yungay we have the best lunch we have had for a long time and gather some information on road conditions from the locals. Our friends back in Cuenca told us to ride a loop through Huascaran National Park. The weather is not looking great over the mountains but we start riding up anyway. The road once again consists of rough dirt as soon as we leave town and it continues all the way into the park. It starts raining but we still manage to get a shot of the Lagune Chinancocha. 
One has to go through the National Park to get over the Path (and pay the fee...)
My crash guard snapped in one spot. A "BMW strap" made a great temporary fix.

Nice work Pat!
Llanganuco Orconcocha. On a clear day the water would be glacier blue. Beautiful nonetheless.
"Pretty isn't it!?!"
And the hairpins began...
As the road climbs higher, and the fog only gets thicker we find ourselves increasingly depressed as we've heard this is one of the most picturesque rides in ALL OF SOUTH AMERICA. It’s hairpins all the way and the going is slow. It is cooling down quickly and the rain is getting more intense. Just before dark, the guys find the ruins of a building and we decide to camp there. The roof is gone but the walls will shelter us from the wind. 
Not the easiest entrance judging by the look on that face.
We set up our tents in separate rooms and built a shelter for cooking. We are all cold and miserable. We try to get the fire started but the damp air and lack of oxygen don't allow it to get going. Then, all of a sudden the clouds break apart and the top of the mountains appear. The moon lights up the snow-capped peaks and the clouds hanging around the mountain make for one of the most dramatic and beautiful camp settings we have had so far. Tim looks at his GPS and informs us that we are camping at just over 15.000 foot / 4600 meters. No wonder it is so cold.

One of our most beautiful nights ever, but damn it was cold!
In the middle of the night there is a lot of noise. I try to figure out what is going on. The pans, we had left out in the rain, are being kicked around. I run out of the tent with my ax, only to find 4 cows trashing our camp. We must be camping in their hide out. I chase them out and barricade the entrance. An hour later the cows find another way in and the cat and mouse game starts again. It ends up not being my best night of sleep ever. 

The road ahead is curvy, it's paved with miles of.... euhm hold on. Unpaved, definitely unpaved!
As we warm up our bikes and ride through what’s left of the front door the rain stops. We climb another 2000 feet / 600 meters to the pass. The views are worth all the cold and wet weather we have sustained while getting up here although much of our view is cloud and fog covered. The ride down on the other side is great and it leads us trough a few small settlements where time stands still. No machines, no electricity, no nothing. Just nature, mud houses and livestock. We are thankful to be riding here and experiencing it all.
Good morning!
To the left the mountain from "Paramount Pictures". Yes, right here in Peru!
Finally reached the pass. Check out the road in the background!
What goes up must go down...

A female alien riding into town!
Back in civilization.
Who does not want a donkey in their streets?!?
Since we are making a loop we have to get over the mountain range again. The road back is better and mostly paved and several glaciers make for quite a few “wow” moments. It starts raining again and all we want is to make it to Huaraz. It is a pitty we have to race down these roads. I have said it a lot lately but they are absolutely stunning with the pavement, when it is there, being in mint condition. Peru you are beautiful!

The passes in Europe are so overrated! ;)
We spend three painful days in Huaraz, the adventure capital of the “Cordillera Blanca”. Painful, because the weather over the mountains is absolutely perfect during our time in the city. We consider riding back and doing it all again but we are tired and relax at the hotel and check out the local markets.
Huaraz by sunset after yet another beautiful day...
The result of some rainy days.
Cuys (guinea pigs or cavia's) are better kept as pets as far as we are concerned. There is hardly any meat on these guys.
Tasty though.
Relaxing means back to work!

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