Actual: As planned, then a lift to camp site at Sant' Anna
14 km, 1300 metres ascent, 9.3 hours including 1.7 hours breaks.
Best bit: The views from Colle di Fenestrelle.
Earlier this year in New Zealand we had enjoyed deep blue skies said to be unmatched by anything in Europe.
All morning we laboured under as deep a blue as anything we had seen in NZ, and absolutely cloudless.
It was a warm start through a meadow of dewy dock leaves below the excellent Rifugio. Then a fine well-graded ascent on a lovely path to Colle di Fenestrelle - 2463 metres - and its fine views, particularly of the giant mountain Argentera to the NW.
We had seen just one person - not our normal expectation for a Saturday morning, but as we negotiated some snow fields to find the path down (I fell waist deep into a bergshrund at one point) a few folk appeared. By the end of the day we had probably seen more people out walking than we had seen on the whole of the rest of the trip.
Having a surfeit of luncheon provisions, we stopped for 2 lunches today. The first at 11, by a burbling stream near Rif Genova, the second at 2.30 below Rif Morelli-Buzzi as we began our final descent to Terme di Valdieri.
Meanwhile we had crossed a much rockier pass, Colle del Chiapous, at 2526 metres our high point of the day. With us, admiring the wonderful views (the morning's col with its mountain backdrop looked fairly insignificant) were Tarzan and Jane, a French couple spreadeagled near the col with their bronzed torsos on display as if it were a St Tropez beach. They passed us later, having found some clothes.
All day we were in chamois country. Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate their whistling from that of the ever present marmots.
Here the chamois are much tamer than I have seen them before; they tend to stroll along the footpath ahead of you, moving away only when you get to within 5-10 metres of them. Even then, they just move a short way from the path and scowl disdainfully at the human nuisance.
Unthreatening cotton wool clouds added some contrast to our afternoon photos as we ambled gently down the gently graded (albeit a 1200 metre descent) path to Terme by 5pm.
There being no sign of any bus, we hitched a lift to Sant' Anna and were happily installing ourselves at the rather basic camp site a few minutes later.
Sant' Anna is a not particularly attractive hamlet; it has a very basic shop, no buses tomorrow, and a nicely painted church. A backwater that people flash past on the way to Terme di Valdieri.
The 3 day section to this point had however been outstanding, and we dined alfresco style in the knowledge that our 9 days in the hills to date have been a lovely experience, worthy of an entire holiday in its own right.
Anyone wishing to view our summary and detailed itineraries, or our kit lists, should use the link to the GTA web page from the home page of http://www.topwalks.com/