I’m never really alone, you know.  As I started my climb out of Cesana, I heard a plaintive cry, “Wait! I’m coming with you!” After turning the first bend my shadow caught up to me and took the lead. “Is it going to be steep?” Giving a pointed look towards Grandma Friday, I replied, “No, not too steep.”  On the next turn my shadow hung back a bit to catch her breath. It’s pretty steep, we all thought to ourselves. As we turned again my shadow raced in front, shouting, “What’s that up there?” I gulped down some water and responded, “It’s our road, but let’s not look up right now, and just focus on climbing. “
“But it’s so high!”
“It’s easier if we don’t look up.”
I noticed we hadn’t heard a peek out of Grandma Friday. When I stopped to have another drink of water she turned her front wheel slightly away from me, clearly indicating her displeasure. 

Things got quieter for a bit as we all tried to take my advice and not look up. Instead I looked at the road and watched my shadow as she moved about me on each turn. 

When we climbed up to 1600 meters we split off to the left to take the old road. The new road is a 2 km tunnel. Fortunately, the old road is closed to vehicles so the three of us had it all to ourselves. The tunnel has a number of galleries that allows light to penetratethrough the arches. 

“Are you still there?” I ask, as my eyes adjust to the light. 
“I’m here but I can’t see my hands or feet! It always worries me when I can’t see my feet. Can you see me?”
“No, I can’t see you inside the tunnel. Remember, shadows are only visible in the light.”
“I don’t like it when I disappear, it makes me nervous. Do I still exist?  Am I real?”
“Of course you’re real,” I answered. 
“How can you be certain?
“Because you haven’t stopped talking to me since we entered the tunnel.”
“I’m scared of the dark.”
“It’s ok we are both here with you.”
“Those are not snake tracks, they’re mountain bike tire tracks.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, very sure.”
“No snakes?”
“No snakes.”

When we exited the last of the galleries my shadow leaped out into the light. 
“Yippee! I’m back! Look at me!” she chirped.
“Good, I replied, we can all reach the top together. “

We met up with Gord in Claviere, the last town before crossing into France, and only 20 meters below the top. As always, my shadow gets quiet when others are around. 

The Col de Montgenevre is at 1850 meters and well known on the Tour de France for the particularly tight hair pin turns above Briançon. 

As Gord headed down his trail and we started our descent, Grandma Friday let out a barely audible sigh of relief. 
My companions were both happily enjoying the coast down through the switchbacks as I clung to both of them, stayed focused, and didn’t look down.

Gordon:  Meanwhile, down in the canyon there were no voices to be heard but my own.  The Camino passes through the well known Gorge of San Gervasio, an outdoor playground.  My only concern was an encounter with officialdom, since there were a number of signs declaring that the gorge trail was closed for repairs.  I was prepared to tell any workers I encountered that I can’t read Italian, but I wasn’t sure they would believe me if I said it in Italian.  Fortunately, I didn’t meet anyone.

Despite some heavy rain in the recent past, the trail was in good condition.  There was only one section of the boardwalk over the river that was damaged and missing a number of boards.  

The walk is quite spectacular, but there are other distractions for outdoor enthusiasts.  I passed two via ferratas (climbing routes with iron steps and fixed cables) as well as the “Tibetan bridge.”  I’ve seen many canyons spanned by simple cable bridges, but this one ran along the length of the canyon for perhaps half a kilometre.

The gorge was a thrilling end to my time in Italy.

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