my plan to bikepack the Carretera Austral, Chile in 2019

During my two months in Patagonia 2018 I did a fair bit of research on a future cycle hiking trip.

I arrive Santiago Jan 11th and might rent a bike in the big city. They’d transport it to and from both trailheads.

The Carretera Austral is far more popular now than when I did it 15 years ago by bus / hitchhiking.

The Carretera Austral runs about 1,240 kilometers (770 mi) from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins through (sparsely populated) rural Patagonia. …

This area is characterized by thick forestsfjordsglaciers, canals and steep mountains. …

Among the world’s finest road trips, the Carretera Austral – or “Southern Highway” – is a 1240km route through Chile that’s mostly about half unpaved. Winding through millennia-old forests, it visits dusty Andean hamlets and turquoise rivers spawned from landlocked glaciers. …

Cyclists should have the skills and materials to repair their own gear, and should plan on taking a solid month for the entire endeavor. According to Italian cyclist Tomas Balzk, the hardest part was not pedaling the terrain, but ingesting enough calories. …

Lonely Planet



what I’m traveling with 2018

I’m on the road for a few months — needing all my hiking gear — as well as city duds for Gymnastics events.

Normally I pack heavy, often close to the maximal allowed weight and size allowances for flight. But this time I’m trying to stay close to carry-on weight and size. Sadly I’ve only got away with that twice, so far. I should have gone heavy after all. 🙄

Click this link to see what I’m carrying on this trip (in blue) and what I plan to carry on a longer future trip in 2020:

Rick travel list 2018

world’s largest travel bookshop

Stanfords is an iconic specialist bookshop of maps and travel books in London and was established in 1853 …

Its collection of maps, globes, and maritime charts is considered the world’s largest. …

After visiting, my thinking was to stop in London en route to my next travel adventure to pick up the books and maps I will need.

They’ve been in the same location since 1901.


visiting Bled, Slovenia

Bled is a super popular tourist town on a tiny, lovely lake.

I had arrived at the hostel in Ljubljana at 10pm. Next morning by 9am I had joined a group headed for Bled.

It’s an adventure tourism mecca: rafting, canyoning, cycling, rock climbing, mountain climbing. I watched scuba divers climb into the lake first thing in the morning.

We had 2 cars and one motor bike. Fellow travellers from the U.K., California, Belgium, France and Singapore. One reason why I like hostels so much better than hotels.

I paid for my ride in beer. Standard hostel currency.

We circumambulated the lake. Visited the “castle“. Then drove off to hike Vintgar Gorge.

An excellent day was punctuated by this sunset.

Don’t forget your camera.

At dinner we met two guys from Zurich. One hoped to climb Triglav 2864m. With guide that costs about 200€. It’s tough to get an alpine hut booking during high season so he came in October.

I asked for a traditional Bled meal. Mostly meat.

my best day hike EVER

I much prefer multi-day hikes, but walking with a light day pack makes it easier to do more thrilling routes.

It turned September while I was above the Arctic Circle in Norway. Winter was coming.

Where to hike next?

Looking at my list of the best hikes in Europe I considered at least a dozen options.

But the hike that most intrigued was a ridge walk out of Interlaken, Switzerland. A climber, Brendan Leonard, claimed the Hardergrat, or Brienzergrat (“grat” = ridge) was the best hike in the world. I’d never even heard of it.

But his photos could not be denied. This looked amazing.

So I flew to Zurich, my first trip back since the World Gymnastics Gymnaestrada 1982. It did not look familiar. My memory is terrible.

Trains in Switzerland are super efficient, super expensive. It’s easy and costly to zip around. After a day in Zurich, I hopped the train to Interlaken East.

I’d hiked the Jungfrau region in 2009 specifically skipping Interlaken as a tourist trap.

Interlaken is a tourist trap filled with rich Arab, Asian and Indian suitcase tourists. But it was worth staying just to enjoy one of the best hostels in Europe – Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. In fact, I can’t recall any hostel with more amenities.

On arrival at the hostel I asked the girl at the desk about Hardergrat. She cursed Brendan Leonard. Told me he’d single handedly popularized a very dangerous route. AND they’d hiked it in the wrong direction. All locals KNOW you should do it starting in Brienz, finishing Interlaken. She gave me some good advice.

A really long, tough day, I made it. Almost 10 hours with only very short breaks.

I posted my trip report over on my hiking site.

As I did in 2009 while I was here, I reread the Eiger Sanction by Travanian (1972). It holds up pretty well. Lot’s of violence and murder and politically incorrect sex. Clint Eastwood directed and played the starring role in the 1975 film.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.