Swimming Lessons


Volcan Orsorno
This post focuses on some close shaves. So, I suppose it is appropriate to begin it by announcing that after over 70 days of trying I have abandoned my facial hair experiment and shaved the pathetic beard away. Damn it feels good. I will warn you now that this might all get a bit dramatic later but, if you are of a nervous disposition, don´t worry. The only damage was a bruised hip, cuts and bruises on my shins, a sore knee and a soggy camera.

Puerto Montt tried to do me in. Twice. I won't hold that against it. However, it is an ugly port town. Makes Portsmouth look like Venice.

The first attempt on my life came with my arrival into the town. I was overtaking a row of cars down a steep hill when my front wheel hit a patch of oily water and slipped from under me. Bike and I slid our separate ways. Damage: bruised hip.

The second failed assassination occurred when I was on foot. I was looking in shop windows, hoping to find something tasty to eat, and fell (cartoon style) into a man hole. I was held up by my shins and swayed back and forth like a punch bag. Damage: cuts and bruises on both shins.

Having escaped with my life I made for Puerto Vargas. Why, oh why, hadn't I stayed here instead? It was a delightful lake side town 20km further. As I poodled along the side of Lago Llanquihue I wondered, among other things, how to pronounce that name, whether Volcán Orsorno would come out of the clouds, and whether there would be somewhere to eat soon. Answers: Yankeeoeh, yes(!!!), and yes(!!!). Volcan Orsorno is a beautiful volcano, very similar to what a child would draw if you asked him, except without red and orange crayon lava flying out the top. Its best enjoyed drinking a huge glass of fresh raspberry juice and eating a giant hamburger. I cycled past it mesmorised.

Then, I took a road that looked to me like (but wasn´t) the road to Entre Lagos. After 20km I camped by the side of the road, ate some bread rolls and listened to a dog bark at my tent for over an hour.
The bridge...
In the morning I packed, in gorgeous sunshine, and continued on my way. The gravel road was fine for another 20km but then started to narrow. Then there was a bridge in very poor condition. Then there were some very boulder strewn parts of the road. Soon I began to deduce that this road wasn´t particularly popular with cars. The scenery, of forested mountains, was wonderful and there seemed to be a few farm buildings here and there. Then I reached some very large puddles and took exceptionally pedantic measures to keep dry feet (Ha!). Then, with grass growing out of the middle of the road, I nailed it down a huge steep hill which ended up going straight into a wide river.
At first, it seemed that the river was wide but not particularly deep. I wheeled out the bike a bit, but then decided it was too deep for my boots. Back on the bank, I took off boots and socks, and changed out of trousers into shorts. Barefoot, I started to cross the river in shallow, but icy cold, water. About three-quarters of the way across, I realised that it was starting to get a good deal deeper. The current was pushing into the bike and, up to my waist in water, I was struggling to stand up and pull the bike. Then, as my panniers are watertight, the bike became afloat. Shortly afterwards, trying to hold on, I too lost my footing on the riverbed. Holding on to the bike with one hand, and attempting a little of the old one-armed-doggy-paddle with the other we rushed down stream perilously fast towards some rapids. I managed to get a footing and heaved myself and the bike up on some rocks. In seconds we were about 100m downstream from the road (if you can call it that!).

Now in shade, I began to shiver. My feet were especially cold, so I wrung out my socks, and poured out the water from my boots and put them on. Then, I had to take off the panniers and scramble over the rocks to the road with them, and then go back for the bike. Damage: bruised knee. Camera was in my pocket and got a good soaking (I hadn't expected the water to come above my knees) and won´t switch on. Hopefully it will work once it dries out.

After that I faced another 10km of terrible road, not even gravel now just mud. But us Hubbard's are built of stern stuff: so I headed on. In the end I reached a meadow with a few cows grazing in it. The road just ended. Dead end. A Chileno appeared, out of the woodwork, and I asked him if the "road" led through to Entre Lagos. He said, "You have to go that way," and pointed in the way I had just come.

"But you will need a horse. It cannot be done on a bicycle," he advised. Then he added helpfully, "There is no bridge over the river."

So I retraced my tracks, dreading another river crossing. This time I took the bike and panniers separately. In fact I took the panniers in two goes. In total I crossed the river 6 times. I followed the same route I had come back to the paved road and found the correct turn off in another 10km. In total I had put in more than 100km of detour. Been totally lost. But I had seen some awesome views of the two volcanoes in this region and had a great adventure (and I didn´t drown or loose my bike and all my stuff down some rapids...

Later, on the right road, I med a Switz called Chris and we cycled together chatting and then arrived in Entre Lagos and found a beautiful lake side campsite. Now I´m off to get us a beer to share...

You Might Also Like


  1. Great entry.. glad you only had to endure it on a Sunny day ;]


  2. and a well deserved beer, great stuff!

  3. Hubb, I love reading your journals and was a bit concerned why you had dropped off the radar for the past few days....but this story is so funny!! - probably wasn't for you at the time but in hindsight what a great story to tell the grandkids one day!! Keep up the good work, keep smiling and hope the camera works again soon - maybe take the battery out to dry properly separately, that could be useful. Clare xx

  4. Pete, I can't decide but i think you might be Chris O'Donnell from, 'The Three Musketeers'.

    Enjoying reading your blog. Looks stunning and can't beat a bit of 'by the seat of your pants' stuff.


Contact form


Email *

Message *

Follow by Email