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2018 Tierra del Fuego Adventure

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Chapter Three Dispatch from Nick Gudewill



I have chosen three days from my personal blog to share with interested readers.


Day 54, Thur, Mar 22nd - 146 km


This was quite likely the prettiest, most scenic day of the whole trip for this writer. Because the ride was short there was time to stop, take pics, contemplate the superlatives of what I was seeing, take your time in other words. On some days there is pressure to whizz from A to B and sure there is nice stuff to look at but there is also a responsibility to get the job done too. Today’s 73 km ride in and same ride out was anything but.


The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest in the world after Antarctica and Greenland. It is anchored by the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier, pictures below. I did not know and it is interesting to comment that fresh water comprises only 3% of all the water on our planet with salt water being the other 97%. Of the 3%, liquid water comprises only 23% of this amount with ice being the other 77%.



The ride followed along Lago Argentina into the park and then along a windy motorcycle heaven road into the glacier itself. I got on a ferry boat with a whole bunch of elderly bus riding tourists and for an hour we got up close and personal to this monster. As you can see in the pics it looks to be very stressed. It is because we actually witnessed three, count them three, quite large calving occurrences. Our guide said this is very unusual and that we should all be very, very thankful for the lovely blue sky day.


A few more comments:

-I have learned to like hot milk and sugar in my coffee; we are so used to great coffee choices at home it is impossible to drink the stuff down here black as I normally like to do
-most Argentinian flags are completely threadbare and badly faded; could this be that they just don’t last that long?
-I find that I am enjoying my own company quite a lot; not that I am reclusive, just that I am happy to see folks, or not!
-this last part of the trip contains a lot more downtime and extra days in one place, quite nice actually; could be due to the difficulty (or potential difficulty of the riding conditions)
-on return this afternoon I had a one hour booked massage at our very nice digs which we get to stay at for two nights.

Day 56, Sat, Mar 24th - 199 km


I guess the best is saved for last, sort of the last bite of a great dinner or the desert at the end. I must say, I have enjoyed this last week or so very much. First off our group size is much more manageable. Eight riders, ten people including the two ladies makes for a less wieldy group and people seem to mix better. Second, the weather has been terrific so the worry about wind and rain has mitigated somewhat which is great.


It was cold this morning, frost on the bikes, 1.5 degrees for the first hour or so enroute the Torres del Paine National Park; full clothing gear required.


Having the template of the Perito Moreno ride day before yesterday set me up for the ride today. Helge said it would be splendid. It was. Pictures cannot tell the story it was that good. The difference today is that we were in the ‘Torres del Paine’ mountain range which is separate and distinct from the Andes. It is worth a trip down here just to experience this magnificence. It was a 200 plus km day back and forth on good dirt roads with lots of tourist buses big and small doing the same as us. There was no rush. We stopped often. It was almost like we were all at a loss for words it was that moving to be here. The nearby mountains felt like you could reach out and touch them. At one point there was a great roaring, thunderous crash and we witnessed a good sized avalanche in the distance.



I got a little busy with the camera and took 196 pics, deleted 72 and will double that when I get home. Helge kindly got out his super duper camera lens’s, lay down on the road at a strategic spot and got some great shots of us coming and going with a national geographic back drop. If I ever get around to making up a coffee table book of these trips that will be the cover page.

I do not want to go on further and bore myself or anyone else with superlatives. It was kind of like driving West from Calgary and approaching the Rockies from a distance. You get nearer and nearer and are inspired by the beauty and majesty of nature. Times about Five.



Day 60/61, Wed/Thur, Mar 28th/29th


This morning we headed out on a 4 hour excursion on a nifty catamaran that speeds to 18 knots. It was a beautiful flat calm morning that blustered up en route and there is a wind warning for this afternoon. Sylvia, our very knowledgeable guide said that we often get four seasons in one day here. She provided lots of info on the area and it’s wildlife. We saw two species of penguins (fascinatingly complex colonies called Antartica and Magellan) two species of cormorants, sea lions and fur seals in abundance (no Orcas but Humpbacks inhabit the area). There has to be a ton of feed under the water to support these numbers. Apparently the cormorants and penguins can dive to depths of 50 meters. I did not see one sea gull.

We are getting very close to the end game, tonight is our farewell dinner. Tomorrow I head to Buenos Aires for a short visit and then home Air Canada via Santiago and Toronto. It has been quite an adventure for this soon to be septuagenarian rider! I have been in touch with my mortality a few times! It has been a very worthwhile life experience. I always learn something about myself.


In conclusion, I have been riding with some very experienced motorcycle buffs. They all own multiple machines and know as much about motorcycles and riding as I know about boats. I have felt fortunate to have kept up, more or less! Helge has done his usual superlative job of managing any and all issues from breakdowns to flat tires to detours on the road to keep us all on the straight and narrow so to speak. No one can do it any better as commented on by my Brazilian friend Gustavo Bertici (mentioned in Day 37 on our washout day) who sent me a message recently that said in part:


“Wow, wow, wow !!! Nick, I was reading your blog and ... Are you a friend of the legendary Helge Pedersen ?! Wow!!!
Certainly he is one of three people (living or dead) with whom I would like to talk about life (the other two are: Leonard Cohen and Aristotle). If possible, tell him that his book ("10 Years on 2 Wheels", which unfortunately is sold out in Brazil - what I read was borrowed from a friend), as well as his blog, influenced me a lot in trying to become a " Long-Distance Motorcyclist "- which I'm still far from, but I try to improve every year. And here's a funny fact: When I read that the great Helge Pedersen also does not use and does not like the "tank bags", I felt happy and relieved, because everyone here uses this equipment that I also hate! ... Hahahahahaha ...
Again, I reinforce the idea of staying in touch and thank you for the beautiful words dedicated to me on your blog.
I will continue to read your blog and follow up frequently.
A big hug! Gustavo Bertuci.”


Sebastian Colombres my excellent and very helpful BMW connection in Santiago (mentioned in Day 40) also sent me this email that I think really captures the essence of what this trip is all about:

“You’ve had quite an adventure, and those are the things we remember, we can always look back at nice portrait pictures, clouds, mountains, lakes, etc...but the feeling of overcoming and having successfully navigated a hard day, thats the pay are coming near to the end of one of your trips again, tired, with thousands of miles on your back, lots of new people and experiences, this is the final stretch to the finish line (your home), enjoy the ride!”


Little did he know that there was much more to follow, some of the most challenging parts of the journey! Thanks for these words of wisdom Sebastian, they really stuck with me.


That is all for now from this writer. Thanks for following along and I really appreciated your messages of support most of which I was unable to reply to for various reasons. Over and out, Nick G.

Adventure definition - an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. Synonyms: exploit, escapade, deed, feat, experience.



Helge's Chapter Three Photo Gallery

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