Day 6: Bourg St. Pierre to Grand St. Bernard

Today’s track led up to the mountain pass at Grand St. Bernard. It is the border between Switzerland and Italy and at an altitude of 2.473m. The path went uphill and downhill quite a lot. And although downhill is nicer to walk you hate it every time you can see it coming, because in the end you want to get to the top of that freaking hill. So every bit down means even more up again. We walked through the forest, around a lake and along a river. We had to walk through cow herds which was an experience. We had read that you’re supposed to walk slowly but just past them. Well, that’s what we did. Except that we didn’t anticipate cows to be so curious that they’d turn and walk towards us. Kind of scary for a city girl. For a moment at least. The next herd I simply walked through, past the cow sitting exactly on my way. And then there was a lot of water to walk through because of all the rain. Water from above, water under my feet, water next to me. I got pretty wet. And most of the time this was uphill, steeply! I’m glad I had my hiking sticks. Otherwise I might have fallen over my feet a few times. It was getting colder and colder on the way up (we now have 7 degrees) but since I was sweating so much from exhaustion it was pretty hard to figure out what to wear.
The last three kilometres we gained 300m of altitude which was super exhausting. And then the hospice appears. You know you made it! Finally!!! Until you realise that bit of the way is even steeper and wetter and even more uneven. When you finally turn around the last corner, you’re shocked! The last ten meters to the road are, you can guess, uphill! So steep I nearly fall over backwards due to the weight of my backpack and the lack of strength after this tour. But I make it. And so do my fellow pilgrims Günter and Luana. It’s lunch time so we rest for a meal and plan to go downhill into Italy for another six kilometres. We go into the monastery to get our pilgrims stamp and a hot tea. We look at the church and by the time we are ready to walk on it’s 3.30pm, the time you usually arrive and we are cold and totally drained. So, we simply decide to stay here. We have a look at the museum. Amongst other things it has St. Bernard dogs in it since they breed them here. The poor things are kept in pretty tiny cages with glass walls. I’m horrified. So had to mention this. Poor dogs! The temporary exhibition was much nicer. I’ll post some photos. We then went to pray with the St. Bernard monks and had dinner in the hospice. I also met the Dutch couple again I had got to know the first night on the campground. We had a lot of fun during dinner all together. Now I’m off to bed. My feet hurt and I’m exhausted. At least I’m not cold anymore…

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The most amazing moment if the day when we could finally see the hospice showing up between the mountains.

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One response

  1. Well done Switzerland is conquered 🙂

    Like

    August 7, 2014 at 7:41 am

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