Low days in Peru…

We looked at the empty harness on the front of my bike in disbelief. The tent was gone, the clips undone…

The bikes had been sitting locked together in the locked hostel courtyard, and assured of its security, we had left the tent strapped on the front. Someone had broken in and taken it F..K. Our beautiful wee red casita was gone.

I was determined to make a fuss, to get the town talking and to flush it out. Being such a small town there was no policia but someone must know something. Tears, gesticulations, bad Spanish did gather a crowd and a town official was trying his best. We offered a reward, no questions asked for its return. We sat in the plaza much of the day, not wanting to leave without trying. We were promised a police like person, who had to come from another town, to investigate and he turned up by 5, but all in vain. We had arrived in town with a 3000 Sole tent and left the next morning with a 2 Sole blue piece of plastic (for a Bear Grylls shelter).

We needed to get back to Huaraz to get another tent and we could only get excited about one of our options – an adventure down the Rio Tablachaca gorge recorded as part of a bikepacking.com route. Reportedly it involved a rivercrossing, a dodgy bridge and some hike a biking (the main road climbed high avoiding the 25 dirt kms that followed this section of river). It would be 65 more km on a paved road, still following the gorge, down to Chuquicara where we could catch a bus back up the Rio Santa Rosa to Huaraz. Alan, still not that well, was happy to consider a downhill route with an adventurous start.

We flew down the paved switchbacks back to the river below Mollepata then both slightly nervous turned off onto the seldom used dirt road down the gorge. It was stunning riding for 12 kms to a split in the road. We took the RH road which dropped us to the riverbed. We followed a false lead upriver which vehicles had taken but the river was too fast to cross so (mostly) rode back down the riverbed to a crossing we had sussed from above.

With 2 of us taking each bike across it was a straightforward crossing (thigh deep) and we popped out on an old road which we followed easily, staying high above more impressive river scenery. We stopped 4-5km from our first crossing point looking for the ‘dodgy’ bridge. What we saw below us was 2 small pole ‘bridges’ crossing 2 branches of the full on current. Holy crap batman! There were 4 men panning (for perhaps gold) on our side of the river which was small reassurance.

We stripped the bikes at the first crossing point. I was in disbelief when Alan thought he could get across it with bags slung off him. He took 3 steps upright then dropped low to crawl back realising it was not a goer and we realised we could rivercross this section (just as one of the men started waving at us to tell us the same). We decided we needed reinforcements and offered money to two of the men to help us get our bikes across. One of the guys was able to carry a bike above his head and balance on the second pole bridge. On our own we would have had to drag our bikes horizontal across the lashed poles. Thank god for the ferrymans help.

There was a short section of pushing bikes over big rocks till we hit the road for a sweet ride of 7 km dirt track to a rough paved road and a cold coca cola. The daily (very) strong upvalley wind slowed our progress for the next 50km but the scenery was stunning and we were still going down. We reached a new low point of 600m by the time we reached Chuquicara (2000m lower than our morning start) buzzing from the days adventure, the day had been a real highlight of the trip thus far. 

Chuquicara was a grungy roadside town, but important as a transport junction at the bottom of 2 large rivers and road links. There was a grungy hostel to match so thankfully didn’t need to break out the blue tarp for the night! 

Next morning we waited in the heat amongst the noseeum bugs that leave an itchy spot (then for me, a welt as they are sooo itchy) for the 11 o’clock bus back up the 160km to Huaraz. We had ridden the last 80km on our first jaunt & Alan still had diarrhoea and hadn’t eaten much for 2 days, hence the easy option. Up the stunning lower Santa Rosa gorge then through Canon de Plato again, incredible. 

So here we are back in Huaraz, for better or worse, a tent to find and Alan’s health to sort before striking north again. 

Adventure travel is all about dealing with those curve balls that come out of nowhere and batting them away, a long, long way away