Awhile back we clicked buy now on some plane tickets. Punta Arenas is meant to be the end. Consistently let down by tourist towns in Argentina, we have no desire to go to Ushuaia. That said, we arrive at our destination early. We have two weeks to spare. We hatch a plane that involves four wheels instead of two, a lemon pie and a giant sack of produce.
Resupply points on Chilean Tierra del Fuego are few and far between. The roads we want to explore are all dead ends. We use the car to carry the supplies we cannot on our bikes. It also happens to be a very sturdy four walled shelter should the need arise.
We drive and walk and drive and bike, working our way around the island. In between we eat pie and grape fruits. With unlimited fuel, we have hot drinks three times a day. It keeps the damp away.
For one glorious day the wind stops and the sun shines. There’s not a cloud in the sky. We ride along the coast, returning from Puerto Arturo. I can hear dolphins breathing when they surface and birds flapping their wings as they lift off from the water. We spend hours combing tide pools looking for treasures. I look up and Tyndall has jumped into the ocean, unable to pass up the chance to pickup a sea urchin. He will have wet feet for days, I think. We return with a bag of shells, basking in the glow of a perfect day at the beach.
Tyndall catches fish with $15 worth of kit and a water bottle. First a brown trout, then another, then a rainbow. I inspect the beaver construction projects in the area. In the 1940s the Argentine military imported 25 pairs of North American beavers, hoping to start a lucrative fur trade. The plan backfired, and now beavers roam at will, having even made their way to main land Chile. They have no natural predators here and acres and acres of suitable habitat. I figure the only hope is to bring the beaver hat back into fashion.
Above treeline we climb to a saddle, then walk a no name ridge. Again the sky is cloudless. The snowy peaks of the Darwin Range come into view.
At Caleta Maria the road ends. There’s another road that Chile is building to the south to Yendegaia, but it’s not complete. We walk the beach as far as we can, then scramble on the rocks when the beach runs out. When the rocks become too tricky for scrambling we stop. Somehow, this place and this time marks the closing of this chapter. Perched on an uncomfortable rock we remember the things we don’t want to forget then turn back towards home. Winter is imminent.
There’s daily weekday bus service between Cameron and Porvenir. We also think it would be possible to arrange to send a food box ahead to Cameron and to the Wildlife Conservation Society park office in Parque Karukinka. With some upfront leg work in Punta Arenas and these services it seems possible to ride these roads by bike only. The completion of the road to Yendegaia (sometime after 2020…) will also open up additional options for cyclists.