Alppikierros Day 13: Switzerland to Italy to France

This morning started out with a run amidst beautiful scenery above the town of Ulrichen.

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This bridge, by the way, is an excellent illustration of Swiss engineering.  Whereas in any other place a little footbridge like this would be made purely of rope and wood, here the two outer “planks” are in fact beams of aluminum, and there was probably a metal undersupport as well.  It looked and felt rustic enough when walking on the wood, but this baby was built to last.

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Once we got out on the road, today was a long transfer day highlighted by two border crossings at high passes, both named Saint Bernard. First up was Great Saint Bernard Pass at an altitude of 2471 meters. This was actually the origin of the Saint Bernard dog breed as well as their barrel-carrying rescuer image. Saint Bernard of Menthon set up a hospice in 1049 at the top of the pass to help ensure safe passage for travelers, including rescue if necessary. The hospice later came to be named for him, and large dogs were bred to help with rescue operations. They were said to be sent out to search in pairs for lost travelers, and when one was found, one dog, carrying a barrel, stayed with the traveler to provide wine or brandy to keep him alive, while the other went back to the hospice to lead human rescuers to the scene. Some of these details may be legend, but the breed of dogs is clearly not, and in fact a number were kept at the pass until 2004 and still spend their summers there.  Here’s where they would have been, but we didn’t see any though.

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Near the top of each pass there was a lake, and we had another view to Mont Blanc in between them.

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330 km

 

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