Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Monday 21 July 2008 - An Italian Border Route (IBR) - Day 27 - The Lonely Alp

On Colle dell'Albergian

Plan: Day 28 - Berg del Lauson to Fenestrelle - 14 km, 600 metres ascent, 4 hours.

Actual: Balsiglia to Camping Serre Marie at Fenestrelle, 1100 metres, - based on GTA stage 21:
19 km, 1400 metres ascent, 7.8 hours including 1.3 hours breaks.

Best bit: The cascades on the ascent from Balsiglia.

It's the Italian Holiday Season.

We spent today walking in the sunshine over a fine mountain pass - Colle dell'Albergian, 2713 metres - totally alone apart from the presence of a shepherd and his dog for a few minutes.

Fenestrelle is the home of the most extensive military fort in Europe. It occupies 1.3 million square metres. We decided to eat out here, together with any other tourists. It took us 30 minutes to find a restaurant that was open. We were the only diners. Nobody else arrived.

And we have been walking on a named route - the GTA, but it seems that this particular route attracts just a thin trickle of Germans - there were none on today's section. Nor anybody seen out walking yesterday, for that matter.

We are less than an hour away from Turin.

I don't quite know what this all means, but we did have Notchy's News Service to confirm that the English are useless at cricket.

One thing we know has affected tourism in this area is the bad weather they had shortly before we arrived. It seems that whilst we were cavorting across Scotland in the sun on the TGO Challenge, parts of the Alps had severe weather. We know a landslide at Villar Pellice washed away a house, killing 4 people, and today we have seen evidence of the destruction caused by that weather. For example there is a nice stroll up to the picture postcard village of Laux from here, but a bridge has been washed away, leaving a river crossing that some may find awkward.

Romina, at Ghigo, put the fact that the area is having a bad year for tourism down to this bad weather.

Anyway, today is summarised below:

• Tea and cake for breakfast.
• 'Goodbye Volker'. 'Goodbye Eva-Maria'.
• Leave Balsiglia at 7.45 on a shady, cool morning.
• Soon hit the sun. Fleeces off.
• Waterfalls cascade down from all sides as we ascend the ancient paved path.
• It's a long ascent - around 1350 metres.
• We pass shepherds' huts below an area where the huge local roofing slates were quarried.
• A shepherd is encountered on his way to a sleeping spot above his lazy cows.
• Tiny grasshoppers and wheatears hop alongside us.
• High cloud and a SE breeze keep us cool.
• Plenty of camping spots - we would have been ok yesterday despite the cows.
• Pass derelict military buildings to reach the high col at 11.30.
• Fine views to Monte Rosa, closer now.
• Descend to an excellent lunch spot through floods of yellow, pink and blue flowers.
• Huge fort comes into view across the valley, blighted by ugly new hotel complex beside it.
• A view through binoculars - reveals the fort site to be completely deserted.
• It must be siesta time.
• Much evidence of May's severe weather - boulder strewn gullies, etc.
• Lots of heads carved into trees by a local artisan.
• Large yellow foxgloves and great yellow gentians dominate the lower slopes.
• Nutcrackers flit over deserted woods.
• Reach pretty village of Laux at 3pm.
• Leave GTA route to descend by pleasant ancient paved path past recently destroyed bridge and other debris, to the small town of Fenestrelle.
• Finish walking at 3.30.
• Book in to camp site. Extortionate at €30 a night for the two of us!
• Explore, catch up with Notchy's News, eventually find a restaurant that's open...

A typical day on the GTA really - up and down over a lonely alp in fine weather with lovely flowers and good views.

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1 comment:

Lighthiker said...

Thanks for continuing bringing back my memories!
As you quite rightly pointed it out: A typical day on the GTA is a long uphill followed by a long downhill and this stays the same the whole way. Reason for it is simple that they wanted to use already existing accommodations or create new ones in the small villages in order to give the locals perspective when they designed the trail. They also incorporated many old existing trails which always went from one valley into the other and not along the ridges.
Speaking of solitude the population density in a lot of the valleys is lower than in Alaska which is very surprising given how near it is to Torino. Many people left their houses in order to find work there or in Cuneo.
All of Piemont has torrential rainfalls at the end of May resulting in a few landslides. They just reopened one of the major roads which goes from Crissolo to the Pian del Ray near the source of the Po river at the foot of the Monviso.
I'm not sure if you plan to walk through Susa but if so visit the Centro Culturale Diocesano there which just opened an exhibition reminding about the 650th year anniversary that the Rocciamelone mountain has been climbed first time. As you know this is the highest mountain in the Piomentesian Alps which you can walk up to his top.

Enjoy your walk and thanks for the reports
Roman - Lighthiker