Actual: Laghi di Trione to Fonti-Minerali (1500 metres):
20 km, 1600 metres ascent / 2300 metres descent!, 10.6 hours including 2.2 hours breaks.
Best bit: The flying descent to Fonti, and the reward of beer.
We were going to call today 'Jungle Again' or 'The Alder Bush Challenge', but some wag came up with a better title.
The alimentari at Pialpetta was indeed a welcome sight. Here's the message we sent from there. Today was a Long Day, despite the modest mileage, with a guide book time of 9.5 hours excluding stops.
The sun would have reached the tent at 6.45, had it been standing. It would have been lovely to luxuriate inside whilst everything dried. But we had 1600 metres to ascend and 2300 to descend.
So we set off, soon passing another tent astride the path, wet ponchos laid outside it. That explains the laughing woman Sue swore she heard last night!
The descent to Pialpetta should have been straightforward. The guide book enthuses about 'teeming with raspberries' and 'a divine orchard of bilberries'. We found none of these. Tall alder bushes concealed slimy rocks as we slithered down the steep slopes, views concealed by the thicket. Cows delayed our progress, chewing up the path as we drove them down the hill, there being no escape routes for them. Sue now has an honorary diploma in Alpine Cow Herding. Awarded by Leki.
Jungle on the GTA. Luckily the leaves were dry, otherwise full waterproofs would have been needed.
I don't really want to say more, but please do not choose this section as a taster for the GTA - it is not a good representation of the overall route.
Strangely, we encountered more people coming up this dreadful path - about a dozen - than we had met in total over the previous few days!
Pialpetta was delightful. The alimentari - another key venue on this alpine Shop Crawl - provided welcome sustenance as already described.
(I don't know - give Alan Sloman a picture, as requested, to provide a flavour of our experiences, and all he can do is make fun of it!)
We didn't imbibe any nectar coloured liquid, as we were about to embark on a 1600 metre ascent.
But we did, thanks to Nick, dally a while to sort out our hotel in Courmayeur - great!
The day improved. The path to Fonti-Minerali was largely excellent, and well graded. Even the lunchtime flies were reasonably well behaved - we put Sue's socks a few metres away as a decoy. It worked. Sue says it's the smell of leather that attracts them. I'm not so sure.
It was hot again - 30C - as we plodded past a lazy nutcracker looking for pine cones, and fast slow worm that made a quick escape from Sue's clumping boot.
Past old shepherds huts where cow bells jangled and manure stenched.
Hazy, cloudy, then clear blue sky above the col, then we were engulfed in cloud, then good views towards Gran Paradiso - partly in cloud - from Colle della Crocetta - 2641 metres. The weather was better to the north, and today the rain monitor stayed at zero. Though we walked with wet feet all day, with regular wringing out of socks.
Lago di Ceresole Reale beckoned, and the well graded descent over open ground was a delight. We (tired by now) beat the guide book time by 45 minutes, whereas this morning (when fresh) we had been 30 minutes slower. The guide book timings have been generally reliable, but these two descent timings were both way out.
The Posto Tappa at Fonti-Minerali was a welcome sight at 5.30. We have a nice double room and two large beers. The pizzas look huge, so we will recover nicely now from today's Long, Hard, Shop Crawl....
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