The next day we got our stuff packed out, and he brought the tires to us.. Much to my dismay, the brand new tire was on the front, as both tires were unattached when he took them so the bike shop had no way of knowing that the *back* tire had blown. I certainly didnt feel like swapping them out now - we still had to make up the distance we had planned to ride the day before to make it to the springs in time today.
We hit the road, which had turned into a puddle minefield and made our way to the information center at Hua Hum. We chatted for a bit with the friendly information center attendant who told us about the border crossing hours, and how many kms it was to Lago Queñi campground, some weather forecast, the conditions of the road riding to the lago, river/stream crossings etc. She had ridden her Mountain bike from San Martin the day before, so we valued her advice about the trail ahead.
Our visas were due to exprire in April, yet we'd extended our trip till May, so at some point in our journey we'd have to leave Argentina to get them renewed. Hua Hum happens to be right on the Argentine/Chile border, and we decide that we have enough time to hit the border crossing now as it seemed like the best place to renew our visas, so we flew across the border, dropped our luggage off at argentine customs, rolled into Chile, got a stamp in, a stamp out, (the Chilean seemed almost disappointed we werent planning on staying) and came back into Argentina, which added another 10km total to our ride. It was the easiest and fastest border crossing I've ever experienced.
When we left town we had forgotten to grab a couple of crucial provisions - we like to put two bottles of wine into a 1.5 water bottle and bring that along for post-ride enjoyment - but alas we had no wine. Even worse we have no money. I forgot to hit the ATM before leaving, and we'd drained the wallet down to 14 pesos (about $3.50 US), however that still might be enough to buy a cheap bottle if we can find a proveduria (mini-mart) that sells them. One interesting/nifty thing about National Parks in Argentina is that there are a *lot* of little places to purchase basic provisions. Some are at "organized" campgrounds, and others are just near the roadside.
We were running short on time and the first place that looked like it might have a wine stock also looked like it was at the top of an undetermined amount of steep gravel road, so we decided to keep moving. We head in towards the campground and pass a sign for another proveduria. Hoping somehow that the 14 pesos in our pocket would be enough to score a bottle of wine, we ride towards the sign, which is down, down, down, to a tiny little hut with a couple of sodas and a couple bags of chips. Very minimal indeed - and definitely no beer or wine. 2 Cokes it is and we slog back up to the top of the trail and continue on - wasting about 30 precious minutes of daylight. This turns out to be a *steep* grind up sandy wet roads. Cursing the info center attendant who claimed it to be up n down but not too bad, we carry on until we finally get to the top of the hill. At this point we have now ascended into a dense, wet forest that gets 4000 mm of rain annually (Portland gets about 950mm year by comparison). Full on Rain forest with mushrooms and fungus popping up everywhere. Its as if we landed in the Olympic Penninsula rainforest. Having rained the day before was *great* for making the mushrooms pop out everywhere.. I really wanted to stop and investigate, but we were racing time to get to the campground in time to hike to the springs. But this Beefsteak mushroom growing out of the side of the tree *required* a stop. Best fungus ever.