The ride from Punta Arenas is a gusty one, and a quick stop at a roadside café for a warm drink is rushed as the winds get even stronger…so off we go to Puerto Natales in hopes of just getting this “over with”. I don’t like looking at it like that, but some days it just can’t be helped. It was still a beautiful ride.
We have a wander around the town square and stock up on a few groceries for the bike pantry before heading off to Torres del Paine for some camping.
I see a statue next to a tour office and see it’s the famous Milodon. I hadn’t heard of this creature before but in finding out what there was to see and do in the area, found out that a visit to the Milodon’s Cave was high on the list.
The Mylodon/milodon was a prehistoric giant sloth that lived until about 10,000 years ago. The arid and cold climate of Patagonia so well preserved one Milodon that when it was found in a cave in 1896 about 20 miles outside of Puerto Natales people thought it was fairly freshly deceased and others were still alive in the area. It had actually been preserved in that cave more than 10,000 years.
Another Milodon statue is out on the harbor near other sculptures.
We can see mountains in the distance across the bay and most are covered in snow.
After looking at the weather forecast and checking winds on Wind Guru, my app-du-jour, it looks like the best day for weather and minimal wind in the park, Torres del Paine, will be the day after we had arrived from Punta Arenas. So plans for a day or two off go out the window and we pack up food and take off early the next day. We have been told it will be a 150-250 miles loop back to Puerto Natales mostly made up of poor gravel roads. Yummy. Sign me up. Well, that’s not actually what I said but I’m cleaning it up to get a “G” rating here.
The weather window for Torres del Paine is small, miniscule in fact. As in 36-48 hours before winds and rain may head into the park. But to put that in perspective, the winds on this Saturday morning that we ride out, are only going to be running about 20-24 knots compared with 35-40 knots for the rest of the week and the one sunny day stands out as a good day to take advantage of when the forecast is also for a week of rain in the park. Torres del Paine isn’t known for good weather, it’s known to be rugged and extremely windy. If 36 hours of lesser winds and some sun is what we get, then we will take it.
So out we go, and turn off to the west to head into the park. As we stop at the Cueva del Milodon to get a peek at the cave where the Milodon was found, we decide we probably don’t have enough time for it if we want to catch the boat to Glaciar Gray more than 50 miles up the gravel, and past the registration office.
About halfway into the park I can see the recognizable Los Cuernos and Paine Grande off in the distance.
Every mile we ride closer to the rock giants, the more in awe I become.
We are gonna make the most of this 36 hours!!!