Moto Tramp 125cc_part IX: Onward

02/03/14 – 03/03/14

San Sebastian – Rio Gallegos – Commandante Piedra Buenos

Border-crossing circus. Check-out of Argentina via the four mystery-desks. Nice, helpful official, sends you to the angry, jaded official, who sends you to a chronically bored one one, who sends you to another nice one, who sends you on your way. We ride through the rock-studded gravel into no-man’s land, check into Chile, and present our archive of crumpled papers and stubs. Elisa does the talking, while I stare at the picture of the local president. We’d be back in Argentina later that day. Continue reading

Moto Tramp_125cc_part VIII: Skiff


Rio Grande – San Sebastian

A cardboard box, probably belonging to a wide-screen television, came tumbling down the roadside toward us, heading South. Continue reading

Return to the Chilko_part V: Wayward

I rise while dawn is still darker than the moonlit night. Crystals line the inside of my tent, gathered in corners like snowdrift. I reach for a drink bottle. One litre of perfectly cylindrical ice. I check my back-up bottle. Apparently it was subject to the same conditions. Continue reading

Return to the Chilko_part IV: Skymelt

But there was a problem. Our functional raft was parked just upstream of the logjam, with little to no chance of making the ferry to a clear channel. I watched with renewed horror as Chuck took the course I had feared, ploughing directly towards a massive dead tree sweeping over the channel in which he was trapped. At that moment, I felt that we were beaten, that the river had won, that for all our toil to recover the situation, we were still at its mercy. The present reality of rubber contacting tree was now inevitable, and it was all we could do to react, to play the fool’s game once again. I was resigned to the moment, at its service, my will irrelevant. And it was precisely that moment of resignation at which the tree gave way under the weight of the raft. Just opened like a barn door. And the juggernaut pushed on through. Continue reading

Return to the Chilko_part III: Chucknot

My head broke the surface. Things always look worse from the surface. Waves slapping my face, I glimpsed a fallen army of trees lining the riverbed on either side of my narrow channel. I righted the ducky and scrambled on top. Hoots and hollers from the raft crew reached my ears as the water drained from my head. Footloose, with upside-down paddle blades, I shambled downstream through the dead-forested corridor. Leaden blood coursed through my arms, squeezed my chest. Continue reading

Return to the Chilko_part II: Pinky

The rope in my hands was of lightweight polypropylene, designed for throwing at a swimmer and yelling at them about. It was not designed to feed through a mechanical advantage system and unwrap an 18-foot expedition rig plastered under forces incomprehensible. Continue reading

Return to the Chilko_part I: Riverbent

Frosty oars of Douglas fir stand ready in the autumn sun. The Chilko blue slides downstream.

My drysuit crinkles in the bluebird air. I row the kitchen-raft solo, grateful for the silence. No-one to ask, ‘How deep is the water here? What grade of rapid is this? How many times have you done this? What do you do in the winters?’ Just the river gurgling, the wind nipping at my ears. Last run of the season. Continue reading


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