Friday, June 27, 2014

Col du Gran San Bernardo to Aosta June 26

                                                                                 Current Day.                     Trip to Date

Distance walked- miles.                                                20.8.                               593.3

Gross climb-feet.                                                          1740.                             50,444

Note:  we had a net decrease in altitude of 6,100 feet today.  Said differently, we ascended 1740 feet and descended 7840 feet today.

Song of the Day: Cripple Creek by the Band

When I get off of this mountain, you know where I want to go?

Straight down the Mississippi river, to the Gulf of Mexico

To Lake Charles, Louisiana, little Bessie, girl that I once knew

She told me just to come on by, if there's anything she could do

Another very interesting and challenging day, as we descended from the San Bernardo pass.  We knew we were going to have a long day, so we skipped breakfast at the hospice, which didn't start until 8, and left the hotel at 7:15.  Unlike the previous day, we had perfectly clear skies, with a temp in the upper 30's.   Just to give an idea of the changes we went through, by the time we reached Aosta around 4, it was 84 degrees.  

Our initial descent included a portion over frozen snow.  Linda went first, and propmptly fell on her behind. Thankfully she didn't slide down to mountain!  We had to work hard to get down the initial portion in one piece.  I refer to much of the early portion of our hike as "root  canal" like walking- you just sort of pick your way from step to step.  It's slow and you have to keep your wits about you.

Here is a view back at the hospice as we left this morning. The Hospice is in Switzerland, but we had already crossed into Italy when we took this photo.  

As with previous days, there was water everywhere.

After a while, we descended to below the tree line, and there were forests everywhere.  The walk was quite peaceful for much of this portion.

And of course, more cows...

Unfortunately, as we got closer to Aosta, much of the walk was on highways, and so we had to play dodgeball with the cars.  Our previous training in Italy is coming in handy!  Also, the trail markings on the Italian portion of the Via are often quite poor and confusing, and we got lost again several times, adding to the distance we walked today.  But, we did ultimately arrive at our hotel ( a very beautiful boutique hotel called le Reve Charmant) in one piece.  Our toes and knees particularly got beat up today with all the downhill, but of course they will mend and we will be ready to go tomorrow.

We then decided to explore Aosta.  The old section is very beautiful and very old, as it was established in 25 BC.  It is a very lovely town of about 20,000 people or so.  Apparently there are lots of ski slopes in the area, so it particularly booms in the winter.  At 6:00, we decided to stop at an outdoor bar that was showing the World Cup on a couple of tv's.  The US was playing Germany, and the bar was packed....with Germans!  All very nice people and we enjoyed talking to them.  Unfortunately, the US lost, so of course the Germans were very happy.  In one of the oddities of the World Cup, the US  still continues to the next round, so it was a happy outcome for everybody.  

We later went to a nearby restaurant, and had half of a great meal.  It was a beautiful night and we sat outside on the terrace. The first two courses of our meal were fantastic, with impeccable service. Then...a group of about 20 people showed up and sat inside.  After that, our service went to hell and crawled to a stop.  We finally had to go ask them for our check so we could leave.  

This past four days climbing over the Alps was a terrific and challenging experience for us.   After completing the walk to Rome, and now over the Alps, we will need to keep our motivation over the remaining 5 days before we fly back to San Francisco next Wed.  We have decided to take it a little easy tomorrow and sleep in.  We are taking a train to Chatillon (about 15 miles) in the morning, and then will walk about 8 or 9 miles to our destination.  

PS a big shout out to Tim Lincecom of the San Francisco Giants, who pitched another no hitter againt the Padres.  

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