Red rocks and a big hill

From Jachal we had a short day thru the Cienaga hills to a sweet, very Aussie like campsite – gums and dry ground. Next morning our early start was rewarded with a great sunrise on the rocks. We had a good descent to the plains and some very looooong straight roads. Neat to pass a posse of guachos who were travelling our way, for a similar distance but going a lot slower. Roads were very quiet – we have dropped from 2000 trucks a day before Mendoza to about 10 up these parts.

Days are coolish till about 11 then it gets pretty warm, and we still have our friendly tail wind that picks up later in the day. We try to start early to avoid the heat of the day.

We treated ourselves to a hotel in Guandacol after a big day and not many other options in the quiet old feeling town. Yes another pool – but we seem to be the only people interested in such things! The strong winds that afternoon were the forerunner of a cloudy, cool and a little bit damp day over the small hill to Villa Union. For the first time the peaks were obscured. In Villa Union, the wee restaurant attached to our accommodation served up the best (& largest) Italian pancake/spinach/mince/cheese stack imaginable – Alan struggled to finish it but Jo cleaned her plate.

Next day with the weather clear again we climbed 900m up to the summit of Cuesta Miranda, a landscape we had trouble working out from our road map till we travelled thru it, with a great descent to a beautiful campsite by a babbling river (seldom seen over here as the babbling usually gets dammed or diverted pretty quickly) but we were high enough up the catchment. The peaks that fed the Miranda river were 5000 to 6000m high.

This morning we had 20km of coasting back down to the plains and a gentle ascent to the town of Chilecito. Timing is everything here – trying to get to a town to get food before it closes by 1 for the siesta and a possible wait till 6pm to buy anything.