Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Friday, 18 July 2008

Friday 18 July 2008 - An Italian Border Route (IBR) - Day 24 - The Wonderful Sara

Two chefs commune

Plan: (Day 25) Rest Day

Actual: A busy day of planning and provisioning - in the sun, of course.

Best bit: Sara's smile after all her efforts on our behalf.

Cumulative to date (planned in brackets):
354 km (341), 25550 metres ascent (25100), 133 hours (roughly!) walking (141).
No of summits visited: 7 (that may stay the same for a while)
No of cols or passes visited: 52
Highest point: Point Joanne - 3054 metres
No of native English speakers met/seen from a distance: an American coach party.
Serious applications of waterproofs: 0


Nothing much to say, you'll probably be delighted to hear - we've received only very few comments over the past few days, but thanks AS and Roman for continuing to show an interest, and the visitor numbers seem to indicate a few other victims for my ramblings.

Today we sought to resolve a couple of problems whilst in this pleasant town - Torre Pellice. We were woken early, as the weekly market was setting up outside our window, so that helped to get us under way.

Breakfast was excellent and set us up well for an arduous day.

Camping gas is a rare commodity hereabouts, even in quite large towns like this one. Another train journey looked on the cards when the hardware shop could only produce canisters of the piercing type. Eventually Sara was able to point us to a sports shop (usually a waste of time) where a man shook his head glumly. But on production of our stove....'Ah, maybe' (in Italian of course). He led us to a locked garage.
We now have three and a half canisters of Coleman Fuel. The weight is off our minds and onto our backs! Given the necessary increase in the use of refuges and hotels, they may last the whole trip. They'll certainly see us to Courmayeur, where we know gas is available.

The above-mentioned Sara is the lady in Tourist Information who has worked for over two hours on our behalf today. She has been exceedingly helpful, making about a dozen forward bookings for us.

The problem is that whilst we have a tent, wild camping, even outside Rifugios, is strictly illegal - and rigorously enforced - in the Gran Paradiso National Park. We now have selected bookings up to that point, which we can mix with camp sites and wild camps. But in Gran Paradiso the Rifugios we wanted were fully booked. This has obliged us to change our route rather than force the issue and, as Alpine Club members, demand (floor) space in the already full Rifugios (not a pleasant experience anyway).

So, we have a pretty clear idea of where we will be up to day 47, after when wild camping returns as an option. Instead of Rifugios in Gran Paradiso we will be using mainly the sparse camp sites, meaning a significant route adjustment. One of these camp sites has even had to be pre-booked - Sara telephoned every one in the district.

But it's still a fine route, and all we need now is a nice place to stay in Courmayeur on 6 and 7 August. Any offers? Nick, any chance of a bit of research on our behalf?

I little more forward booking will be desirable, but that's for another day.

All this, of course, commits us to our 'day ahead' timetable, so we will have to walk in the rain when it finally arrives.

Torre Pellice is a lovely town, and we've really enjoyed our stay here, albeit much of the day has been spent dealing with 'admin' tasks.

Tonight the bar across the road is vibrant, a brass band can be heard up the road, and opera singers (who we watched for a while) are in full flow down the road in Via Repubblica.

We are in Beckwith House, named after a British General born in Nova Scotia, John Charles Beckwith (1789-1862), a benefactor of the Valdesi area. His tomb is just up the road. The area is also known for having taken a stand against Nazi/Fascism. An interesting place. We are very rare English visitors, likewise the American party, who are cheese hating vegetarians, and mostly quite thin, as you might expect from such a diet. The chef has been challenged by this, but the good man gave us lots more cheese tonight, and managed to force down us five helpings of his excellent pizza before we finally refused more.

We are bloated.

Star of the evening was the aged Italian lady who sat next to us at dinner. She must be about 85. On hearing us talking about Gran Paradiso she started to relate tales from her youth. Her first glacier experience was on holiday with her father. He had borrowed some rope used for tethering cows from their hotelier. There were no ice axes or crampons. She held up her white handkerchief to illustrate the steepness of the snow (vertical, it seems). 'I was very scared' she said.

A grand old lady.

Anyone wishing to view our summary and detailed itineraries, or our kit lists, should use the link to the GTA web page from the home page of

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