South America 2019-202x

unknown length - solo travel - Suzuki DR650

A long day

June 16, 2019  —  Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador

The mountains of Ecuador are magnificent, but they can hide a few surprises. A few parts of my itinerary follow the trail called Trans-Ecuador. The trail is a superb route created for mountain or adventure bikes. I was thinking that if a bicycle can make it, a motorbike certainly can as well... well, not really.

The day before, I wrote to my friend Catherine and I told her I was going for a ride in the mountains. Thereafter, she asked me how my day has been. I told her that my day in the mountains has been a very long one, and it lasted two days.

Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador

The day started with a nice encounter. After stopping to take a few pictures of the scenery, this group of youngsters timidly approached me. After some greetings, I asked them if they were willing to be photographed. Immediately, they jumped in front of the motorbike, and the young man put the helmet on his head. Awesome!

Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Only a few metres to cross.

After a few hours of joy in amazing landscapes, I reached a tiny mudslide on the trail. It was only 4-5 metres long; it seemed quite easy to cross. I walk on the mud, and I think it's not too deep. Then, I risk crossing it.

Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
The branch didn't help me get out of this mess.

Oh well, it's not working, I quickly sink into the ground, blocked by a branch hidden in the mud. I had to remove all the luggage to lighten the weight of the motorbike, but the effort needed was quite tiring. I was at an altitude of 4000 metres, and still not acclimatized to this height. After an hour, I manage to get out of the mud.

Normally, after this kind of misadventure, a smart fellow would have turned back and looked for another trail. But I was so close to my goal; a few metres of mud, and then 3-4 kilometres on the trail before reaching a more important road.

I looked at the trail for a long while, I check if it would be possible to pass a little bit to the right of where I first attempted to cross. This time, I walk the whole length of the obstacle with my boots. I probe the depth of the mud with a stick. All seems good, I try to cross again...

Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
With great wisdom, I try to cross a second time. Big mistake, it's worse than the first attempt. I sink even deeper, and moreover, I am only some 30 cm from the cliff.

I try for about two hours to get out of this mess. I dig with my hands and with a stick, but in the end, I only manage to sink deeper and to exhaust myself. The day is drawing to an end, and I have only one option left; I put up the tent along the trail and I sleep there.

Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador

There is a small water source nearby, and I can draw water from it. I go to bed early, and I end up not having a good night, since it rained all night. I was afraid that the trail would collapse and I would lose the motorbike.

The next day, I have to walk more than an hour and a half before reaching two small houses where two young men accept to help me. On their motorbikes, we return to where I got stuck, and then they help me get out of my unfortunate predicament.

Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Trail from Totoras to Guamote - Ecuador
Here are my rescuers.

It's a nice ending, but it was still quite stressful. The weariness from the day before and the lack of food and heat has been really tough. At an altitude of 4000 metres, the muscle fatigue was quite intense the next day. Almost all the following day, the rain didn't stop. I spent the day soaked, and on muddy roads. The scenery was still awesome, but I didn't appreciate it as much. All my stuff was wet, and water entered the tent... too many holes everywhere.

At the end of the day, I reached the small town of Guamote... a Sunday. Everything was closed, and I didn't find a place where to wash the motorbike. I looked for a hotel, but when I found one, there is nobody there. A bit discouraged, I wait for a while and I look for another place on the phone. After 10-15 minutes, a lady comes by, and she's the owner of the hotel. Phew, I am so happy.

After my misadventure, luck is on my side. I am able to wash the motorbike and the equipment in front of the hotel. In the big parking lot, I can hang all my equipment to dry. Moreover after a week without the sun, it finally decides to show up for nearly two hours. It's all the time I need for all my stuff to completely dry.

Guamote - Ecuador
Guamote - Ecuador
At my hotel in town.