Day of contrasts (Cerro Sombrero, Chile)

I stumbled out of my tent this morning and headed behind a tree for my morning pee.  As I squatted in the woods, I looked out and saw a fox playing about fifteen feet away.  I stayed there, crouching in the woods, and watched as another fox came up.  And then an armadillo came scurrying into the picture! And then another fox!  Gosh – I wish I had taken my camera with me when I went for that pee…

It was a lovely day – almost too lovely to be real.  The sun shone brightly and we had an awesome tailwind taking us directly to the ferry to the island of Tierra del Fuego.  As we crossed the Straights of Magellan, the water was calm and temps were warm enough for t-shirts.  Lovely!

But then… “How much farther?” John called out.  “It looks like rain ahead!”

“18K!” I called back.

“Let’s go!” he said.  “Let’s try to make it to town before it hits!”  We took off like a herd of turtles.

Twelve kilometers from town I cycled along marveling at the unique situation I was in.  To my left – east – the sky was bright blue with white, puffy, cotton candy clouds.  To my right – west – the sky was black and clouds churned in a nasty roiling mess.  Not nice at all.  I wanted to stop for a picture, but knew we were counting the seconds before it hit.

We didn’t make it.

Ten kilometers from town, the wind moved in with a passion.  We stood on the side of the road trying – mostly in vain – to hold our bikes up against the onslaught.  As I struggled with my rain jacket – sleeves flapping wildly while I tried to maneuver my arms into them – my bike bucked and kicked like a wildman.  At one point, the wind picked up my trailer and deposited it about a foot or so from where it had been a moment earlier.  John lost control and his bike crashed to the ground.  Davy was actually sitting on his bike to hold it down.

“We just passed a bus stop!” I shouted to be heard over the wind.  “Let’s go take shelter back there!”

Davy and I turned around to walk our bikes back. “There’s no way I can get my bike up,” John yelled.  “Come back and help!”

Davy managed to get his bike to the shelter without problem, but I lost control and my bike tumbled down.  Against the tremendous force of the wind, there was no way I could get it up – John ran over to help.

And then it was time to get the tandem to shelter…  All four of us grabbed hold of the bike and held it up against the wind.  By now it was raining and raindrops pelted us with an astronomical force.  We struggled toward the shelter.

Then came the hail.  As we strained to get the tandem those final 40 feet to the shelter, pieces of hail were driven into our legs like BBs from a high power gun.

Finally, we reached the tiny bus shelter and sat inside listening to the wind howl and shriek outside.  “The wind actually picked me up and moved me over a couple of feet,” Davy grinned.  “That was amazing!”

“It was amazing all right,” Daryl quipped.  “Amazingly painful.”

Fortunately, the storm was fairly short-lived.  Once the worst of it had passed, we headed into town.  We figured we deserved a bit of luxury after that – we checked into a hostel and called it a day.

Davy:  Today was a very good day, at least until 2:30. We woke up and we ate and we went and watched some foxes run around, we ate some more, we brushed our teeth, and then left.

We got to the ferry and had to wait a while for it to get there. When it came, we got on and rode across the Straights of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. We got some pictures and videos. We got off and then rode on.

We got to the turn off and waited for Mom. Right before Mom got there the wind started. It was BAD. Dad’s bike fell over and mine came out from under me. I had to sit on it so it wouldn’t blow away. We were right next to a dirt road and all the tiny pebbles were being picked up by the wind and came at us very fast. They really hurt. It was also raining and it was a cold rain. It was coming down hard.

Fortunately for us we had passed a little bus stop about 30 meters back and went back to it. Dad had to have help getting his bike up so me and Mom brought ours over and put them next to the bus stop. On the way, the wind blew Mom’s bike over, even though she was holding on tight and walking it. We went back and helped Dad bring his bike over to the bus stop. We waited out the storm in there and then went on.

We got to the turnoff for Cerro Sombrero (Hat Hill) and found a little restaurant and asked if there was a hotel in Cerro Sombrero and there was one for about 60 US dollars. We went there and got a room.

Daryl:  Today when we woke up there were three foxes and an armadillo playing near our tents. We had some granola bars for breakfast, brushed our teeth, and left. We crossed in a ferry to Tierra del Fuego. Then we started riding to the town.

When we were ten kilometers away it started to rain. It wasn’t just rain; there was also wind. It wasn’t normal wind either. It was pick-up-Davy’s-bike-and-move-it-while-he-is-on-it wind. This wind also blew the rain really hard, so hard that it hurt.

We turned around to go back to a nearby bus stop. Right before we got there it started to hail. If the rain hurt us you can imagine how much the hail did. We managed to get to the bus stop in time. We waited there for a while. Eventually the rain and hail died down and we left.

We made it to town, got a hotel room, and stayed there for the rest of the day.

Kilometers today:  73
Kilometers to date:  27389
Distance remaining: 400


Getting on the ferry to Tierra del Fuego – it was just… like, “over there”!

ferry to Tierra del Fuego

Yup – that really is Tierra del Fuego in the background.  Land of Fire!!

On ferry - with Tierra del Fuego behind


Tierra del Fuego!

There were guanaco all over – I loved watching them run across the road ahead of me, then gracefully jump the fence.

sharing the road with guanaco

When the storm moved in suddenly, we took shelter in a tiny bus stop – and boy were we glad it was there!

John in bus stop

It was nasty outside.  There is no way a photo can do it justice.


books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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4 Responses to Day of contrasts (Cerro Sombrero, Chile)

  1. TulipGirl March 15, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    I started reading and was oh-so-worried that the bikes were damaged or you were seriously injured. I know the hail HURT, but. . . still, I’m thanking God no one was seriously hurt!

  2. nancy March 15, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    After seeing the videos of the tsunami in Japan, I think Mother Nature let us off easily!

  3. Barbara Wolff March 15, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Brave Family, hard core. One appreciates the small things- the little bus shelter, and pouring rain does seem more like “nothing” when Tsunami pics are around. Breath in all that wind fearlessly. pure not contaminated.
    I enjoy Davy versus Daryl comments! you as MOM probably do even more.
    8th pedal day is almost here! I can’t imagine your excitement as I just waiting for that city limit sign USHUAIA to pop up on your post gives me tummy tickles! Hope the weather is absolutely glorious that 8th day. 🙂

  4. Luna March 15, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    You’re almost there!! How exciting! I’ll be eagerly awaiting these next few blog posts!

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