5 MONTHS, 25,000 MILES
Words by Jordan Hufnagel
In the fall of 2013, after an intense couple of years working toward this dream, James Crowe and I took off on a motorcycle journey that would see us from Whistler, British Columbia, to Ushuaia, Argentina, to the southern tip of South America and beyond. What followed was a beautiful shit-show, two friends constantly throwing themselves in over their heads and making it all work out.
On our way down, we rode a large portion of the Baja 1000 course, fully loaded with all of our gear. This happened a week after the race had run and immediately after some large storms had swept through. It was the most challenging riding I could conceive of, and consequently I became a hundred times the motorcycle rider I was before. Early in the journey, we realized that our dumb asses didn’t get the paperwork we needed for the ferry tomainland of Mexico, so we found ourselves backtracking 1,000 miles to the Mexican border. After that life lesson, we were sufficiently prepared for every border crossing and qualified experts on the ins and outs of border paperwork.
We dove off cliffs and bridges in Guatemala just a day after I broke two ribs on the ride, because I was decidedly against allowing any non-life-threatening injury to quell this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We tried sailing for a couple of days on open seas on our way to Colombia, with mixed results; suffice it to say that seasickness is no joke. We took off on a renegade six-day backpacking trip by ourselves, hardly a week’s worth of backpacking experience between the two of us, and were welcomed by some of the most beautiful and remote mountains either of us had ever seen. Luckily we hooked up with an incredible and experienced couple while riding the rural milk truck to the beginning of the trek and got schooled in more ways than one by our new friends as we shared the journey together. An hour into a hike bound for one of South America’s most badass waterfalls, James found out that he is extremely allergic to ant bites, which resulted in a frantic rush back to our bikes to get him stabbed with an EpiPen. After that we never left on a hike without the EpiPen, and we also developed some new relaxation methods to help fight off serious allergic reactions—yet another life lesson for the mental folder. We changed countless flat tires in the middle of nowhere and now have a dialed quick-fix kit and method. We rode through snow at 14,000 feet several times with every layer we could possibly dig up, and while we were physically miserable and possibly delirious from incredibly long days in the saddle, I am challenged to recall landscapes as beautiful as the ones up there.
We logged more than 25,000 miles in five months on our way to the southern tip of the Americas, taking every step we could to spend the majority of the trip off pavement and in the most remote areas. Help, directions, a place to stay: They were all just a simple interaction away due to the amazing kindness of all the people we met.
When I reminisce about this trip, it’s all the harebrained ideas, struggles, and lessons that I remember most fondly. I feel lucky to have a friend who is constantly willing to push limits and learn as we go. And the best part is, there is so much more to come.