Day 8 / Nassfeld/Pramollo-Straniger Alm

The news proves that the word “torrential” was hardly an exaggeration to describe yesterday’s weather. I heard on the radio this morning that the thunderstorms were so heavy, they flooded basements in the area, and hail damaged many cars. So I was fairly lucky just spending an hour in heavy rain, before finding a dry bed. (I just met a guy who spent the night, wet, in a cows’ barn!)

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Nassfeld/Pramollo (“wet field”) living up to its name

Anyhow the next few days, despite the unsteady weather forecast, should hopefully bring less surprises, as I’ll be following the well-marked Karnischer Höhenweg (Carnian High Trail), also known as the Friedensweg, or Path of Peace, which leads along the crest of the Carnian Alps and commemorates the war fought here, which began 100 years ago.

Today’s hike led first through the ski area of Nassfeld, then along trenches and other WWI fortifications. As peaceful as these mountains and meadows now are, they were once an alpine battlefield. Even by military standards – even the ludicrous standards of the First World War – this Alpenkrieg was an incredibly stupid war, fought over rocky summits and glaciers for little territorial gain by either side. Generals sought the prestige of holding certain summits; hundreds of lives lost in bringing a few cannons up icy aretes, only to never fire a shot, etc. Most of the deaths were from the elements, not enemy fire.

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Peaceful mountains along the Carnian high trail (Trogkofel, 2280m)

If anything good at all came from thus war, these are some of the paths and roads which are still used today, and the advances in the study of alpine hazards like avalanches. Anyhow, today the border is open and hardly noticeable. How many times I crossed over from Austria to Italy and back today I can’t say.

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The first (and only “official”) border crossing of the day

Tonight , as once again the rain and the thunderstorms rage outside, I’m sleeping in a cheese farm called Straniger Alm. It’s worth coming here just for the delicious “Kärntner Kasnudeln“, large ravioli made with raw cow’s cheese.

Bon appetit!
Phil

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