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Mystery Road

It appeared in the forest. Suddenly I noticed that the trail underfoot was more than a trail.

Large stones had been laid flat, edge to edge and about a cart's width wide. It continued ever higher, with edges built up on steep hillsides.

Finally we left treeline and the ancient road kept on going. I had planned on leaving the marked trail here to gain the actual border ridge just a few hundred meters away. But the road had captured me.

Why was it here, way, way above the valley and leading to no pass I'm aware of?

Once in the southernmost Alps in France I had marvelled at what at first I assumed was trail builders gone mad. Later I learned that it was actually a road built by the Romans on their way to conquer Gaul. I followed it over a pass and it cleary connected one important valley with another.

But this one high up on a ridge and not crossing any passes let alone major valleys? The trail sign says it continues to Prato Valentino. My map shows no such place. The best I can come up with is that somewhere over there is a very rich pasture where they produced so much cheese they needed ox carts to pull it across many kilometers of alpine terrain and thousands of vertical meters. That seems a stretch, but what else? And how many centuries old?

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