Into the Heart of the Alps

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Tushar Cows Would Be Happy Here, July 12, 2011

Stage 13, R134 (Chiappera à Maljasset)

9.49 miles, 3,575’ up, 2.617’ down

Go to this map and hover over the triangles to see where the stage we just completed is relative to the entire trail.  (The stage beginning and end locations are probably backwards, as we are doing the trail in the opposite direction.)

Readers who know me, know that I worked on a project about grazing conditions for cows in the Tushar Mountains of Utah (hint, they are not good). Those cows would be so happy in the mountain valley rising up out of Chiappera. Lots of green and beautiful flowers to eat all day, and cowherds who come to tend them personally, leading them to the choicest grazing spots and back to the nighttime outdoor enclosure. Heard a lot of mooing this morning!

We saw a lot of other hikers today, but didn't really hike with many.  On the Italian side, there were so many trail options, everyone seemed to go on a different path. Up over the pass, back on the French side, there were a lot of day hikers (on a Tuesday). One other observation about Italian trails I forgot to share yesterday - the people who mark the trails are rabid. There are trail marker paintings (right now, orange over red) on every other boulder and rock (including underfoot in the middle of the trail) and signs pointing to different passes and hiking destinations (with hiking times) at every possible decision-point. Such a huge (and comforting) change from previous days, especially at the beginning of the trip.

Rock Glacier
Rock Glacier

The French side of Col de Maurin (today's pass) is filled with a rock glacier.  It's as if someone picked up huge boulders at the top of the mountain and just threw them down like dice. Some of them landed in the most improbable positions possible (and have not fallen over).

Our destination today is the very small town of Maljasset, at the end of a road (meaning most people get here on foot). All the buildings are made of stone and have real slate roofs (you need all those stone walls to hold the weight of the slate roof). At least two of the three places are run by families with young children; previous generations of the family at our gite have been running the place for 42 years! We were able to see the inside of the village church, which was rebuilt after an avalanche -- not only an arched brick ceiling, but re-imagined frescoes on one part of the wall and a huge altar made of white Italian marble.

Slate Roofs
Slate roofs of Maljasset
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