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Friday, October 31, 2014

Top of the World

Or at least it felt that way on a short October hike south of the Gotthard Pass in Ticino Switzerland.  Here are the best shots from the peak parts of that hike.  Taken with a point and shoot camera, not photoshopped, manipulated, enhanced.  They are a record of the beauty that was, is, and can be there.  





















Welcome to Zurich: Dahlias












Drive Zurich to San Gotthard






Drive from Zurich to south side of Gotthard Pass through the tunnel.  
Start hike at about 1300 meters  at Nante, above Airolo in Ticino Switzerland.

Hike Airolo/Nante Up

Hike started just south of the Gotthard Pass.  View below looking north at the old road up to the Gotthard Pass.  Most traffic now goes through tunnel.  New large tunnel being built.






A dead bird on the trail, above.
Trail goes up, up, up.


Alpine meadow and peaks starting to emerge.

Dancing Trees Show the Way

At the beginning of the hike, I was following blazes and finding the tree shapes interesting.
As I went on, it seemed that the trees were pointing the way.
And a little further, the trees started dancing!






Sun and Shade, Ascending to Pass Cristallina

Sun was a big factor in hiking up to Pass Cristallina, along with the hard climb!
Started at around 1400 meters and went up to about 2500.





The Path Leads On





Val Bavona, Sonlerto

This small town in the upper reaches of an alpine valley in Ticino region of Switzerland has been in place for thousands of years.  It was a difficult and remote area until hydropower brought electricity in the 1950's.  Many had moved away to find work.  Nowadays, people are buying the old houses as second homes and renovating them.




 The 'main street' of the old village.










It is hard to distinguish the old from the new from the natural.




Old Rock Structures

The Italian speaking canton of Switzerland is called Ticino.
In areas there are plentiful rocks, boulders, outcrops, quarries on the south side of the Alp slope valleys.  People used the plentiful local rock to build walls, and they also used the cavities in and around rocks in ingenious ways.

Pictures below are from the Val Maggia (and its offshoot Val Bavona) but there are structures like this in other Ticinese valleys as well (Val Leventina, e.g.)


 Above is a shed, using a leaning boulder as partial wall and roof.
Below is a pen, with a wall of stones built up under the cliff.
Both were for goats, as cows could not navigate the steep and rocky terrain.



The steps seen below right lead up to a 'hanging garden.'
When torrential floods in the 1500's washed away fields and crops, growing areas were created on the tops of large boulders, safe from being washed away.




 While goat pens and hanging gardens were from Val Bavona, the area around Cevio in Val Maggiore had hundreds of storage and wine cellars built into and under giant rocks.  Photo above shows a reconstructed storage shed under a boulder, with steps leading up to dozens of other 'caves.'  Most had tables and chairs built out of stone as well, so that people could have a safe place to enjoy their wines and other stored products.  These date from the last 300 years.



















New Rock Structures





 In Ticino, rocks are still used for building, but the size, scope, scale, and sophistication have grown.

These are all overlooking Lago Maggiore near Ascona, Switzerland in Ticino.



Please click on "Older Posts" in the bottom right to go further in this trip:  Ascona, Pordenone, and the Friulian Alps.