Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Wednesday 20 August 2008 - An Italian Border Route (IBR) - Day 57 - Arriverderci Italie, Guten Tag Helvetia

One of many waterfalls cascading into the Mattmark reservoir

Plan: Day 57 (second half) - Rifugio G Oberto to Saas Fee - 16 km, 100 metres ascent, 3.5 hours.

Actual: Rif G Oberto to Camping am Kapellenweg, Saas Grund:
19 km, 200 metres ascent, 6.9 hours including 2.3 hours breaks.

Best bit: Bright blue skies and cloud inversions at 2900 metres.


And we found an excellent restaurant - Tenne - in which to celebrate.

We were in no rush. It dawned fine, apart from some swirling cloud, and we had plenty of time to chat to the four pipe-laying workmen, and to Fabio, the guardian, before easing our aching limbs up the final 100 metres to our final col.

Passo di M Moro is also home to the Madonna delle Nevi, a 6 metre statue painted gold. Today she was radiant under a gleaming sun and a deep blue sky. The sun was on her back, so photos were tricky. We spent 30 minutes with her - here's the message we sent at the time, leaving just before the arrival of the first passengers disgorged from the nearby cablecar.

We missed the path down so had a bit of fun in a boulder field before locating the security of the red and white stripes of the alpine path markings.

Cloud lay below us, so we thought we would have to pass through it to a dull day in the valley, but it evaporated as we went down. It was lovely to be able to enjoy a final sunny day, despite cloud obscuring some of the high peaks.

Ibex scampered in front of us. Rock pipits, redstarts, choughs and ravens joined the marmots in admiring the splendid inversions.

We stood aside on a steep rock to allow some fat men past. Just as the last one was below them, Sue's ailing boots finally died. They lost all sense of friction and propelled her into a heap at this man's feet.

It was hilarious. I'd been suggesting she change to trainers for some weeks - she later finally accepted that advice!

A ferret dashed across the path looking for mice.

We met lots of people on their way from the car park at the Mattmark reservoir - around 2200 metres - along the well graded path to the col. We noticed a dramatic change in their appearance. Most of them, men and women, were fat; the people we met in Italy were very rarely unnaturally bulky.

I could make a rude comment here, but I won't. I don't know the nationality of all these fat people, but they seemed to speak German or English. Yes, we started to meet English, so the 'encounter count' will end on the last col, as we are now well into territory frequented by the English.

We took the quieter (rougher) track to the east of the lake, noticing the abundance of flowers hereabouts. Willowherbs and bellflowers, daisies and fleabanes, bistorts and stonecrops, eyebrights and spurges, houseleeks, gentians and orchids, and many more to feast our eyes. These have accompanied us daily during the trip. We will miss them greatly.

Waterfalls cascaded gracefully from melting glaciers into the well supplied lake.

We'd been told, perhaps by the German I was rude to a couple of days ago, that it was best to get a bus down from the dam, rather than walk along the road. We hadn't been looking forward to this road and it was unclear from the map as to whether there was a path. So we were delighted to find a most excellent path, all the way to Saas Fee, with only about a kilometre beside the quiet road.

Lunch was perfect. Good bread, tuna with porcini - we hadn't had that for ages, no flies, good tea, bright sunshine, fabulous views, and a lovely waterfall. No worries, just contentment with this 'simple life'.

But it's all about to end!

Saas Fee was duly reached - past a massive 'Go Ape' type of facility with wires stretching high and long above the gorge, bus and train tickets for tomorrow were purchased, Swiss francs were obtained, and the walk was unexpectedly but enthusiastically continued, off the top of our last map, down 'the path of chapels' to Saas Grund, Saas Fee being a tent free zone.

Here we are in Saas Fee - mission accomplished - very satisfying

It being Switzerland, the camp site has plentiful topsoil; we have washed some smell off our clothes for travelling purposes, and I have broken one of the Nallo's poles trying to set up a washing line (my fault entirely - but not a problem - this happened at the start of the HRP trip and the Nallo's spare sleeve held up for the whole trip, we haven't even had to use that today).

We even found a photographer to record our 'compleation' for the purpose of this message home.

Lounging on the sunny site with alpine views and mugs of tea was followed by beers and our excellent celebratory meal at Restaurant Tenne.

And that's about it - day 58 is a rest/travelling day, so I may find time to produce some final statistics. Then there will be photos to add, many messages to send, epilogues to write, etc, etc,

So thank you for watching, and keep tuned to this channel!

Next Day
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Alan Sloman said...


You are not likely to find a better place to buy that poor woman a new pair of boots! She deserves ot for skivvying for you for the last two months!

Well done you two - thoroughly enjoyed your trip.

Nallo Lady said...

Thanks Alan
We enjoyed your vicarious presence - it gave us lots of laughs!