Actual: These 'Rest Days' should be renamed 'Chores and Provisioning Days'!
Best bit: Alpine Garden and Fledging Coal Tits.
Cumulative to date (planned in brackets):
179 km (165), 12700 metres ascent (12200), 67 hours (roughly!) walking (71).
No of summits visited: 5
No of cols or passes visited: 31
Highest point: Colle del Vei del Bouc - 2620 metres
No of native English speakers met/seen from a distance: 0
No of ticks located: 1 (Sue, of course!)
Thanks Nick, for this explanation regarding the eagle:
'stone eagle' ='steinadler' =golden eagle
BUT - we have now realised it had a diamond shaped tail and was therefore a bearded vulture (lammergeier).
Thanks also to Roman - 'Lighthiker' for your offer of support and info. As you can see, only part of our trip is along the GTA, which seems quite straightforward. Keeping closer to the border gave us a couple of wonderfully remote days on the last section of our IBR route, over rarely visited ground, and actually short cut the GTA route by a couple of days. In contrast, the next section of our route takes us 'the long way round'.
The GTA route however remains the inspiration for this trip, and from what we have heard from people we have met it is a fine route in its own right. It also has the advantage, for those who don't wish to camp, of having lodgings at the end of each day, and it has well marked paths that are easy to follow.
Notchy (hope you are ok and saving up news for us - eg who won Wimbledon, etc?) - you would have died for the view of yesterday's first mountain pass from the path ascending the second one!
Paul, from UHSM, our dietary consultant, thanks for the advice re 'carbs'. 'It's working', says Sue!
Today started well. The small alimentari that had no bread last night turned up trumps when Sue arrived with a huge bag of bread - for 5 days - whilst I was washing clothes in cold water. No clothes washing facilities here, but we managed.
Then back to the shop where we cobbled together a menu for the next 4 days. They have no GORP, so we are forced to buy chocolate. Whoopee! No muesli either, so it's local fruit cake for breakfasts. We also have at least 5 tins of fish, some of which have gravitated to my rucksack...
We decided on a night of luxury in Terme di Valdieri before embarking on our next section of the walk, which will take four days to the next provisioning point.
Sue didn't get a lift by hitching this time. She requisitioned a camper van. The nice young couple from Rome and their pet gerbil had simply stopped to look at the map. Sue strode up and the couple obliged. The only condition was that we take our shoes off. It was a smart van. Italians have driving stereotypes, and driving habits. This youth was in the latter genre. We kept stopping to let following traffic past; courtesy was King. Sometimes stereotypes just don't apply!
They delivered us safely to the Information Centre in Terme. In the stone wall of the building two coal tits were busy feeding their chirping young. Inside, Enio provided details of the range of accommodation on offer.
We went next door to the imaginatively named 'Albergo Turismo' where we have a large and comfy room. It has power, so all camera and phone batteries have been topped up, and the Freeloader's solar collection of energy has been drained into Sue's ipod. The latter is a Big Deal, as we have no charger for the ipod.
The afternoon was spent recharging our own batteries. The botanic garden was great. It helped us to identify some of the flowers we have puzzled over, and had a good woodland nature trail.
Enio was very helpful re the bearded vulture - he knew there was one in the area we had been in, but apparently we were very lucky to see it. He kindly set a film about the ibex going, with a commentary in English. Very interesting. There are not many of them - we must have seen 5-10% of the entire population!
Leaving the Information Centre, little birds started to whizz about in a somewhat bemused fashion. It was the coal tits fledging in their own inimitable chaotic way.
'Not the best timing' Enio agreed, as the hordes of Sunday picnickers returned to their nearby cars. But the birds were still fluttering about later when most people had gone.
By then we were watching from the comfort of glasses of beer on the hotel's veranda, anticipating the meal to come - lasagne, then braised beef in red wine + potato, and cheese or peaches etc to follow. It was, as predicted by Enio, very good.
Rohan Goa Convertibles (my only trousers) - washed, on impulse, for the second time today - about an hour before dinner. Amazingly they could be worn immediately and were dry within the hour.
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/