You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
A short drive over the Grand St Bernard, 27 October 2014, and here we are in the city of Aosta in the Valle d'Aosta region of northern Italy, and now we're driving up into the hills for a bracing walk in The Nature.
We're leaving Aosta (at 580m asl) and driving up into the Valpelline, to the north and northeast of the city
Several towns and villages along the way, like Valpelline itself (960m), and Oyace, and Nus
And finally Bionaz
Beyond which, we have only the road to the Diga or dam of Place Moulin
Quite a few years ago, one of us walked (with some other fellows) over the Fenêtre de Durand from the Mauvoisin in Switzerland down into the Valpelline in Italy, and the next day plodded through the rain from the dam at Place de Moulin to the Rifugio di Prarayer, and then over the Col de Valcornière (3072m) to the Valtournenche. Today's walk will be a little bit of Memory Lane.
The carpark at Place de Moulin (ca. 2000m asl)
Kristin at the summer concession stand, in good weather . . .
Unlike this mirthful escapade in the same place back in 2002
We're off, along the access road to the Refuge of Prarayer an hour's march above the lake side
The Lago di Place Moulin, with a bunch of almost 4000m peaks in the background
A glance back at the dam
A very scenic and unchallenging walk, about an hour each way
It's a very good thing that somebody's drilled this road through here; it would be quite scramble otherwise.
The Prarayer refuge with the zoom on
Another glance back
The refuge at the end of the lake . . .
. . . with the zoom on again.
An isolated farm building on the far side of the lake
3/4 of the way to the refuge
It's all nostalgia for me. Not long after our 2002 Swiss-Italian multiday hike, we returned with daughter Marlowe for another visit.
A roadside chapel
12 years ago, Sir Michael and Barrister Jeremy stood right here and tried to decide whether we should start up into the mountains in the dreary rain . . .
. . . and then off we went.
Kristin, contemplating future walks to penetrate higher into the wilderness
Signs for the neighborhood
It's time to go home now
The lake of Place Moulin in late afternoon
That's the way up towards the Col de Valcornière (3072m) . . .
. . . zoomed.
Back the same way we came
This is one of the most beautiful easy walks to be found anywhere.
And thereby hangs a tale.
Back to the dam
Goodbye to the mountains and glaciers . . .
. . . and hello to Aosta, at dinnertime
The next day
A last look around
The alpini, elite Italian military from the mountain regions
A sunnier view of the cathedral belltowers
And its façade
And the cross commemorating the expulsion of the Lutherans in the 16th century
The main piazza, named for Émile Chanoux, a lawyer, politician, and partisan who was murdered by the fascists in May 1944
And we're on our way back over the Grand Saint Bernard, via Martigny to home.