Today was going to be another day when people did a little bit of everything. But this time the main arranged activity was going to be a hike rather than a ride. M., a Swiss-residing Finn, had joined the trip the night we’d arrived in Livigno, and he had an idea for an outing over the border in Switzerland. We didn’t know much beyond that a hike would be involved, and figured a break doing something else besides motorcycling would be an excellent idea. Not everyone in the group thought so, however, and a number of folks figured out a day ride and headed out on it. One or two other independent rides also took place, and perhaps there were some loungers and shoppers again as well.
The group had also had its numbers reduced recently by leavers. Many people on the trip either could not swing the entire period off from work, or had a couple of other places they wanted to visit while on the Continent. Thus a few new faces, like M., came, but many more, it seemed, were leaving. This was unexpectedly sad. We may have only just met these people and found only a few things in common with them besides motorcycling, but nonetheless we had grown used to their company and enjoyed the occasional conversations and stops on the road that we had. Each departure tore a small hole in the fabric of our trip experience.
Anyway, after all was said and done on all of these accounts, we had a band of seven waiting for the bus in the morning, and two more planning to ride and meet us there. I wondered at first why we all didn’t just ride, but not everyone had lockable luggage to store their motorcycling gear while we hiked. Did I say bus? Yes, that’s right, we were now going to be part of the problem rather than the solution on the roads.
However, as slow as buses were relative to other vehicles, we soon saw that the bus drivers themselves did tremendous work with what they had. Their vehicles were wide, and whenever there was any sort of wall or barrier on the side of the road (which was often), they actually kept to within less than a foot of the walls and often just inches. This over long periods of time and with few straight sections. Blind curves and oncoming traffic left similarly little margin for error. Seeing our own driver at work, I was quite happy I would be sticking to my motorcycle for the foreseeable future.
We arrived at the base of the Diavolezza gondola in beautifully sunny weather. There was some wind, but that was only to be expected here, a mountain region above the tree line.
We paid up for tickets and boarded the gondola, which was luckily just about to start out. It was a smooth, efficient, fast ride and it just kept heading up.
until we arrived “at last” (after about 10 minutes).
In a different world.
I suppose a Swiss cable car ride in the mountains is a part of the standard American bucket list when it comes to European travel. I asked Päivi if it was on the Finnish bucket list as well, but to my surprise she said Finns didn’t really have one. Maybe Europe was too close by to merit that kind of attention. At any rate, we had our lunch on a terrace restaurant overlooking mountains, slopes, and the tongue of a glacier (and I checked off the “having lunch on a terrace amidst snowy mountain vistas” item as well),
then tightened up our boots for a hike up a minor peak just off to the side.
It was great to be doing something different than motorcycling for a change, and getting our blood pumping in this fantastic terrain was a great way to do it. We climbed a few hundred meters over the next couple of hours,
relaxed and took a few shots on the peak,
and headed back down,
in a somewhat more dispersed state as everyone found their own pace down the mountain.
A beer on the terrace finished things off, and we headed back down on the gondola, satisfied customers.
Also on the gondola with us were the real men of the area though — climbers carrying backpacks with ropes and ice axes. They must have ascended one or more of the higher peaks in the area.