The summer is almost gone on the high pastures of Aosta Valley, but down on the plains people is still suffering from the season’s heat. Up here everything changes towards the end of august, and all the colors turn to brown, yellow and red. The air, except during the central hours, becomes sharp as soon as the smallest breeze comes up. But the biggest change in the impressions and sensations is given by the sunlight, which is now much lower than in the mid-summer and builds up lights and shadows on our path and on the side of the mountains. And we talk about a path even if we’re pedalling up there, because it almost seems to hear the footsteps of a millennial tradition, a pilgrimage that goes along the same path that today bikers, runners and trekkers, they all follow to get on top of Punta Chaligne. It is believed that the pilgrimage that takes place up here every 16th of August, starting at 4 am at the church of Gignod, has started during the first half of the 17th century, when european and alpine populations where killed in masses by the bubonic plague.
The reach of the magnificent cross located on the top of Punta Chaligne is way faster on a mountain-bike than during the pilgrimage, also because you can start the tour from the village of Buthier at 1350m. and the trail that climbs from there gently goes all the way up to the Chaligne refuge first and up to the Alpe Chaligne Farms at 2234m. after. A stop at the Chaligne refuge is almost a must (if you are not on an athletic stress with chrono and cardio on) and you can be delighted with exquisite typical foods and local wines; moreover it’s really interesting to see how nicely the architecture of the newly rebuilt refuge was taken into account, standing together with the local farms and pastures in such a lovely and respectful way. Entering the refuge is always warming and charming, the staff is lovely and the fireplace will give the magic touch to the experience. Once back on track, the last bit of the trail, to reach the Col de Metz at 2487 m. has to be climbed with the bike on your shoulders, almost to remember you the pilgrimage spirit of that ascent. From here the downhill trail options are countless and the best choice is to have a guide with you, or at least have a good map of the area: the reward is guaranteed, and the images can tell it!
More here: VDAmonamour.