Thursday, August 18, 2011

Middle of no where

Once you get past a certain height in altitude, there isn’t much to look at. Well, not much other than the skyline of snow-capped peaks. Trees stop growing and the slopes become even too steep for the freakishly firm-footed cows that somehow manage to graze on 30 degree angles. All you end up with is a barren, rocky landscape that I imagine the surface of the moon would look like. So you would expect that there is not much to be found in these areas, right?

A recent hike up the mountain side has made me realise that humans will go to ridiculous efforts to achieve the improbable. Whilst walking up a track that would test the best 4WD vehicles, we came across several abandoned shacks and even more eerie, caves in the side of solid rock. Not the kind of caves that you would expect a Yeti to jump out of, but caves with a concrete doorway and old bed frames inside them. Who carried all this stuff up here? I complain about having to carry a water bottle with me, never mind a tonne of concrete, timber and building equipment!

The ski lifts are testament to mankind’s ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude. They stand high in mountains in areas that vehicles cannot even access, often across epic gorges or ice glaciers. Who thought to themselves, ‘That’s a good place for a ski lift. Let’s build a ski lodge up there’. Not only did they conquer the difficulties of the terrain, but they did it in almost freezing conditions! I mean honestly, were these people insane? The road to Passo dello Stelvio is, in itself, an amazing feat, but someone had to go one better and build a ski slope another 800m higher. Even crazier are the 4-5m high crosses that stand alone on the highest peaks. Would you cart absurdly sized pieces of timber to the top of a peak to build a cross?

Whilst roaming around the barren slopes at 3000m altitude, we found a plethora of old tin cans and glass bottles that I can only assume came from some of those crazy people. Our most bizarre find was in the middle of no where on the side of a mountain where we found a coffee machine. Why is there a coffee machine here and how on Earth did it get there?

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