Wild—a simple word that’s easily uttered and liberally used. But out here, in Patagonia, that tiny word Hulks up to full size. Out here, wild exudes an air of sheer, infinite space, zooming right up to your face to scream, “YOU ARE SMALL AND I AM BIG.” And for Matt Hunter, traveling for this latest edition of Trail Hunter, time spent on the trails in Patagonia helped reinforce the true meaning of that simple, four-letter word.
Once in Patagonia, Matt and his friends rode in both the south and the north of the region. In the south, the weather was slightly unhinged and they found themselves fighting against the winds, every day. “It was pretty tough bike riding weather,” said Matt, before adding that riding in this area also held a special draw. “It was really cool for me, because I love my home and that place [the south trails] had the same latitude—or a similar latitude—south as I live north of the equator. That was pretty neat to kind of visit that opposite part of the world. But that area was extremely extreme weather.”
The word 'wild' gets used a lot, I think falsely. But this is one place I would count as being truly wild.
Days later, traveling to the north of the region presented Matt and his friends some extremes of terrain. Here, they were literally riding on volcanoes.
“One place had erupted recently and everything was coated with this ash,” says Matt. “It was very, very lunar... We were climbing through these forests of really cool trees called Monkey Puzzle trees, and then reaching the alpine, and riding on a moonscape, basically. It was volcanic ash [and] quite soft. It was so hard to ride, even on the flats, it was just…sinky.”
The experience of Patagonia has left an indelible impression on Matt. The landscape, the weather, the camaraderie, those unexpected moments, (the impromptu hang drum session around a campfire—“It’s so clear and cool sounding”—being a prime example) and the welcome reminder of just how wild “wild” can be was everything Matt looks for in a trip like this.
“You can feel it,” he says. “You're just out there in this big space, and for me, that's what I seek mountain biking. It just feels so cool to be out there in that wild kind of place.”
CREDITS Written by: Janeen McCrae Video by: Matt Miles Photos by: Dan Milner Riders: Matt Hunter, Matt Miles, Rene Wildhaber, Euan Wilson, Dan Milner www.specialized.com