After settling our pleasantly modest bill - €195 for half board plus drinks and all other extras - we ambled back along the flowerful path towards the destroyed bridge. All bar Andrew visited the Grotta delle Vene. We were followed in by the quartet from Yorkshire. Two of them were met at the point at which we turned round - a junction where there was a big puddle. These Yorkshire husbands disappeared with an ominous splash, and were not seen again.
Outside the cave, one of some 700 in this area, martins were nesting and the cloud was already beginning to build.
Our route led past the oncoming curious German couple who seem to have got a day behind, and away from the GTA route that the Yorkshires were following (NB Gillian Price's GTA book is abundant around here at present, she may be pleased to hear!).
We descended gently to the 'Inferior' and the 'Superior' hamlets of Carnino, where some reconstruction work is in progress. We saw nobody, but we gather that ancient architectural features are preserved here in the stone houses built in the 'enclosed roof' (tetti racchiusi) style.
Our long brew stop in the sunshine soon followed. The increasing cloud on these alpine days doesn't really block the sun for long as it comes and goes, and the absence of any significant wind ensures a warm passage for the intrepid hiker.
Higher up the valley the woods gave way first to ungrazed meadows inundated with yellow rattle, then to a buttercup meadow beside a babbling brook. Here, four of us lunched in luxury (Andrew being on his upward dash) and discovered England's poor start in the first Ashes test. We are bemused by the fact that it seems to be taking place in Wales!
The final stretch to Rif Don Barbera was over the gently rising ground of the rock and turf of the Karst limestone of this area. Half a dozen hikers were descending in high spirits, and mountain and trail bikers could be seen above us on the 4WD tracks that adorn the French/Italian border around here.
There's plenty of room for everyone.
The five Italians we met in Rif Garelli are here (we also saw them last night), and we have the company of a few mountain bikers.
The chef is busy and the prospect of a tasty meal looks high.
The rifugio is just on the Italian side of the border with France - the image is taken from Colle Lago dei Signori - on the border.
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