(Read the dispatch from Day 8, or start at the beginning with Day 1)
We get an early start (for us) from our little island on Lake Pehoe, snapping more photos of the Cuernos as the rising sun paints them in living color. In the time it takes to haul our luggage across the bridge and load the bikes, clouds are already forming around the jagged peaks – a wisp here, a puff there, and always in motion. Then we’re off, backtracking due to a road closure. As I approach a hill, a guanaco crosses the crest left to right silhouetted by the sun, then runs to a small knoll to stand like a statue while I pass. Adiós, guanaco; adiós, Cuernos.
The morning’s ride gives me time to put things into perspective. So much has happened – so many miles under the wheels, so many laughs with new friends, and so many new vistas etched in my mind. The GS moves easily beneath me, the boxer twin thudding out wheel-spinning torque whenever I twist my wrist. Scenery plays in reverse from yesterday, the colors enhanced by sunshine. We stop in Cerro Castillo and pick up some last-minute souvenirs. And coffee. I was so pleased to learn early on that this train runs on coffee, never missing an opportunity to stoke the fires with a little more caffeine.
It’s pavement all the way to Punta Arenas now, our final miles smooth and fast. We lunch in Puerto Natales, feasting on seafood straight from the ocean. My king crab stew is delicious, but so rich I can’t finish it. Back on the road, the miles count down to zero as we enter Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan and find our way to the shop to unpack and drop off the bikes. Showing the wear of two thousand Patagonian miles, the tires still look good enough for a return trip. Pierre takes photos and measurements to take back to the Heidenau factory.
Our tour is over, but there’s a seaside hotel room and a big dinner waiting for us this evening. Everyone seems tired, yet satisfied. I doubt there’s an unmet expectation among us. Patagonia is a must-do ride, and RIDE Adventures has done it right for us.