A continual climb today from around 1400 metres to 2480 metres, through the heart of the Alps, hardly a need for signs anymore. The track is narrow but their are no points where walkers would have to decide on an alternative route.
A young Swiss woman with her guitar and two Australians – an eighty year old with his daughter – were the only others walking to the top. A very enthusiastic young Swiss girl, she was very excited about these low long slate and stone buildings on the track. She didn’t know what they were but was sad that these still strong and beautiful buildings aren’t being used, so she imagined what they might be.
The older man has been walking for 20 years; to Everest, and three long caminos beginning in France. He has a heart condition but it didn’t slow him down as we walked through bare de-snowed hills, others with white patches, evidence of a much thicker layer only two months ago.
His daughter had been walking with him for some years and loved to look at the sparse wildflowers and stop at the small bridges, being sprayed by rushing waters.
The small streams trickled onto our path, others flooded them slightly, while bigger flows of water escaped under the thick patches of stubborn snow.
No villages today so it was cheese bread rolls prepared at breakfast and cool stream water, just below a roadway that stood in our way. The roadway seemed to act as a border between two different countries as the snow got thicker, and the patches larger. Our path was blocked by one metre high snow which covered the path indeterminably.
The road was fairly quiet, about 3 cars and motor bikes every 5 minutes, so the gauntlet wasn’t hard to walk, and sometimes fast. It took about 12 stretched ‘s’ bends to reach the top. The snowed-under path was visible now and then, with its black lined yellow diamond sign making isolated appearances.
Like an army exercise, with appropriate warning signals, the last couple of kms would have looked suspicious from the air. Walking on the side of oncoming traffic, cautioning each other at corners, crossing sides when the edge ran out, took our attention away from the landscape spectacle, so photo shoots were taken in the more safe moments.
With perfect walking conditions, (the temperature remaining fairly static at around 13 degrees, for as the day normally gets hotter we were getting cooler with elevation), it was relatively smooth going and t-shirt time the whole way. Even the slight hail and showers that had been hovering in wait for us at the end was okay and gave us something to maybe embellish at a later competitive occasion.
It’s only a small window in our 4 bed (though just us) room, but a huge view of the Grand St Bernard Pass. Just over a week past it was Swiss German, then French. Tomorrow it will be Italian, as we say au revoir to Switzerland and bongiorno to Italy.