Annual Smuggler’s Route Hike: Italy to Switzerland

EvanSeptember 28, 2012
Every year one of the highlights in the Italy trip is a long hike along a smuggler’s route from Italy to Switzerland. After a legendary bad weather excursion two years ago, we have had pristine weather for the trek, which affords unbelievable views in several directions. We depart from the valley where we live, looking back at the 3000 meter peaks and the dominant Ortler, then cruise over alpine highlands headed northwest. At the end of this high plain the mountains crowd in and the river drops down into a slot canyon, walled with rock cliffs that tower hundreds of meters above the river below. Etched into the side of these cliffs is a narrow path that offers just enough space for us to walk while looking down into the depths. The whole thing is difficult to describe and almost as hard to photograph, but hopefully the pictures will give you a good sense of the setting.

Starting out: it was cold at first but later warmed up. Here’s our guest from Bend, Ryan St. Clair, walking with Maddy and Justin
We set out from the valley above Schlinig, where we often rollerski, and hiked up through the breathtaking stench of cattle stalls being cleaned and manure being sprayed on farm fields. Fortunately we soon left behind the odors and started to scramble up the steepest pitch in the hike, hiking beside a long waterfall cascading over a cliff.
One of the cool things about Italy is how often we are dwarfed by the natural features around us.

Elliot and I stopped to take some pictures with the waterfall.

The spray was making a rainbow and freezing to the grass and rocks downwind from the cascade. Pretty sweet.

Elliot poses above the valley with the Ortler in the background.

Elliot and Justin took a moment to examine a mushroom, being careful to hold a leaf around the stalk in case it was potent.

Mapping out the route on the alpine plain. We are looking towards the Uinaschlucht, where the trail is carved through the cliffs, in the distance.

Elliot and I snuck up on a marmot, and got pretty close before it ducked down its hole.

The group at the border of Italy and Switzerland and the entrance to the Uinaschlucht.

We collaborate with Ryan’s coach Ben Husaby and his Bend team at National races. This is their team shirt: “Every Day I’m Shuffling.”

Ryan psyched for his entrance to the canyon.

Pretty creative english on the description plaque.

It’s difficult to capture the scale, but Dev is looking a pretty good distance to the canyon floor below.

Looking down to the river below.

Team photo at the end of the canyon. From left: Ian, Ryan, Devlin, Elliot, Justin, Maddy.

Several hours later, we return to where we started! Not a bad view.


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