Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Reschen Pass

After two days of waiting out the rain, we made a move to get over the Alps. We followed the route of the Via Claudia Augusta, the ancient Roman road build by Augustus with his own funds to create a route over the Alps. But our road was a path dedicated only for bikes, separated from highway traffic, winding through kilometers and kilometers of apple orchards and vineyards.

We traveled for two days through the fertile Adige river valley. Every turn had some interesting sight, like the castle built seemingly as part of the bedrock, and covered bridges built just for us cyclists. It was a steady, even grade, and we literally saw droves of bike tourists heading down in the opposite direction. Many had just a couple small panniers, and we assume they were cycling and staying in hotels along the way.

Clouds built up every afternoon, and we had rain each evening just as we pulled into camp. In the campground in Murano, we just managed to set up the tent before it started pouring. Cooking in the tent was not a realistic possibility, so we set up our stove in the common dish washing area that every campground in Europe seems to have. A nice German couple took pity on us, and invited us into their motorhome to eat our dinner. We had a great time -- between their partial English and my rusty German (lubricated by some wine), we shared stories and parted as friends. It was a blessing to have a place to hide out of the rain.

Day three took us over Reschen Pass. It was a good steep climb in sections...I confess to pushing my bike up a couple of them. It was a Sunday, always a tricky day in Italy -- we found it to be virtually impossible, except in the larger cities, to find an open grocery store on a Sunday. Normally we carry only a days worth of food, and shop along the way to resupply. But our pass day was Sunday, so in addition to dealing with the climb, we were also carrying the weight of a jar of pasta sauce, melon, and bananas!

We were a bit delayed when one of the small towns along the way was holding a foot race for the youth in the area. They closed the bike trail and the main thoroughfare in town, and told us we had to backtrack several kilometers around the lake! We did a little begging, saying we had far to go that day, and they delayed the start of a race just long enough for us to pass through.

At the summit the clouds were building once again, it was noticeably cooler and windy. But the view was awesome, and with every uphill is a downhill. As we crossed the border into Austria, we sailed down the trail with green grass and wildflowers all around us.

We made a short detour into Switzerland for about two kilometers (above). We crossed the Inn River, which we will follow east into Innsbruck and a bit beyond before heading north to Germany. We are sorry to leave Italy, but happy to have scaled the Alps and ready to begin the next phase of our trip through Austria and Germany.
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Anonymous said...

I really think you are having a great trip. I enjoy reading each posting and the pictures are great. Jim W

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