Friday, January 2, 2009

December 20, 08..Starting South...

We took of for our Holiday trip south on a windy, rainy Saturday (December 20?) towards La Junta, at the last minute planning a side trip to a little know town on the coast called Raul Marin Balmaceda. Even in the blustery weather, with the clouds and rain squalls, the road just past the bridge into La Junta held great promise. As the clouds and rain passed in waves, we could see high, snow-covered mountain peaks along the road. Rio Palena here...approached the halfway mark to La Junta and the weather worsened. The two stops we made prior to reaching the bridge at La Junta might have been a premonition of things to come, had we been paying attention. Both stops were massive old trees splintered and thrown by the uncharacteristic winds just moments before we came upon them. At the second stop, two men on foot helped drag off the shattered trunks, along with Greg and two wet. freezing, unfortunate bicyclists from New Zealand. At one point, both men turned and ran up the road, looking back. I was watching Greg from the truck (someone had to take pictures) when just to his right a massive limb fell from 40 feet up a tree, crashing on the berm of the road. I could see the look on his face, "Oh! So that's why they were running." Anyway, back to the turn off to Raul Marin Balmaceda. From the intersection, it is 72 kilometers of some of the most impressive, true Patagonia land. Some hard, well-kept farms, forests, rivers, waterfalls and a surprisingly decent road. Except for the damned fallen trees. After tree number two, the winds picking up and the rains becoming colder, we came upon a crew working to clear the biggest tree so far. Chainsaws, chains, a whole crew. A worker came back and said there is no way to get to Raul Marin today...this (the fallen trees) is all the way there, trees down for the next 45 kilometers.

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