Plan: Day 22 - Rif Campo Base to Val di Fiutrusa - 18 km, 1800 metres ascent, 8.5 hours.
Actual: Alternative route based on GTA, via Rif Melezé to promontory 200 metres beyond Colletto della Battagliola, 2230 metres:
25 km, 1900 metres ascent, 11 hours including 2.5 hours breaks.
Best bit: Colle di Bellino/Medieval Village/Wild Camp.
New high point: Colle di Bellino - 2804 metres.
As it happens, our planned route to Val di Fiutrusa was well signed and would have presented no difficulties.
But due to the failure of Campo Base to provide suitable provisions, we were obliged to take the scenic route via the fine col, just beyond which we are camping. The nearby spring mentioned in our GTA guide is just about dribbling, so it did take 20 minutes with a grooved tent peg and a mug to collect tonight's water supply.
Campo Base, last night, provided perhaps our poorest meal yet, though adequate. The chef was fine, but one of his helpers was particularly dim, allowing food to go cold before she got round to serving it. This morose young lady, defined by her 'builder's bum' just didn't want to be there.
But Stephanie and Ulrike, both from Germany, made up for any defects with the food. We enjoyed a most pleasant evening with them. Ulrike has a phobia for large parties of Germans. She has a method of avoiding them; she starts on a Sunday evening and goes in the opposite direction to the German guide books. Good thinking Ulrike, and thank you for so generously providing the chocolate, muesli bars and croissant that the grocery department of Campo Base failed so miserably on. We are most grateful to you. None of said items made it to Colle di Bellino.
On Colle di Bellino
Stephanie, we hope you had a more relaxing day after your energetic day out on Colle dell'Infernetto.
Could you let us have the name of your guide book, please - we know a few people that the gourmet tour would really appeal to (ourselves included).
As you may gather from the photos, it has been another cloudless day here. We got to a new high point with wonderful clear views.
Then we descended to ancient villages which resembled in some ways the villages in the Kali Gandaki valley on the Annapurna Circuit. They had many sundials - though we didn't count all 32 of them - there being an obsession with the sun around here.
One of the villages, Pleyne, had a small shop. Once we had managed to retrieve the lady of the shop from her other job - collecting hay - she was able to sell us from her minute store the excellent soup, risotto, tuna, mushrooms, chocolate and tea that we have just enjoyed and that Campo Base was so unable to provide. It was almost worth using this alternative route (which I have to admit is probably better than my original plan) just to meet this lovely old lady and her 'one tooth' husband. [Here they are.]
And after a final, well graded ascent to a col with 'the finest' views of Monte Viso, we found the little spring and the small promontory on which to spent the night. [Here it is.] Cuckoos are still awake, and a deer with a baby has spent 30 minutes staring at us and barking, but seems to have gone away now. We can see the small village of Castello, 700 metres below, and we've watched the sun's rays slowly slide up to the far horizon - the plains of Italy to the east, above which there is now a glorious pink glow.
It has been warm and windless here, so cooking outside was most enjoyable, especially as a swarm of flies took temporary possession of the tent!
Today also featured:
• The usual plethora of flowers, including field gentians for the first time.
• An amusing exchange of texts with Dave Oliver, during which he claimed to have caught an 11 pound carp.
• Another idyllic location for lunch.
• Very few people out walking, as usual.