Those brand new information boards are in fact the main change from Gillian's description of her walk number 9. They cover a range of topics, from the construction of the Stelvio Pass in 1820 to its wartime use, and the flora and flora of the area, even extending to an explanation about how the expulsion of the contents of rabbits' intestines serves to fertilise the land and benefits the flora. All very 'German'? though the information boards were in both German and Italian, with English only appearing at the Furkelhütte. Perhaps English speakers are expected just to get the chair lift up there and walk down #17?
Anyway, today we set off on a perfectly clear, warm morning, down a lane to the south, to Drei Brunnen. Path 15 took us past an ornate chapel then up through shady pine woods to Rifugio Borletti, at 2188 metres, some 600 odd metres above camp.
We took our time. A few old dears passed us. The distant roar of cars as they grunted their way up the Stelvio Pass slowly diminished. The flower book was out. Wintergreens, Garland Flower and Cowberry were highlights. Common Spotted Orchid was lush and abundant. We stopped frequently and relished new 'spots'.
Yes, we seem to be bagging flowers!
As we emerged from the woods and approached the hut, Spring Gentians dominated the path's verges.
Schiewasser, Fanta and an unpronounceable soup were most welcome after our leisurely two and a half hour ascent. Most people turn round here, but we continued on up #18 towards Tabaretta. Only two people followed us - by coincidence the Slovenian couple in the next tent. A second lunch occupied a delightful half hour with stunning views and Shrubby Milkwort and Rock Speedwell in attendance. Sue is pictured near here, with Rif Borletti in the background. You may also make out the zigzags of the Stelvio Pass behind. The route of the Meranoweg path can also be seen.
A final ascent brought us to the flat summit of Pic Tabaretta - at 2538 metres, our high point of the day. It was a lovely flat meadowy summit with stunning views; an idyllic camping spot in good weather like this.
We reluctantly moved on. Whilst the Slovenians headed up to Rifugio Payer, we contoured along #18A towards the derelict remains of the Alpenrosehütte. This was the trickiest path of the day, featuring a short traverse behind a steep bergschrund towards a flock of sheep seeking shade from the relentless sunshine.
The temperature in the open rose to a hot 27C as we descended, as if into a cauldron, to 2000 metres; but then #18 entered the tree line. It was cooler under the canopy, with a lovely aroma of fresh pine. The afternoon was beautiful, with a cloudless sky and no sign of haze despite the continuing hot weather.
On the approach to Trafoi a forest path (#3) led left to cross the river by a footbridge before rising to deliver us efficiently at the campsite.
Today's route is mentioned in Gillian Price's book as the descent to Trafoi in Route 11, with our ascent being mentioned by Gillian as an alternative descent. The paths were well maintained and are probably more heavily used than when Gillian wrote her guide.
The campsite shop saw to all our needs - brew, beer, alfresco supper - before we ambled down to the village, which seems to be a refuge for Opel vehicles on test, and admired the Alpenglow as the sun lingered late on the Ortler peaks. Those staying in high mountain huts will have had an evening to remember.
But we are also content. A fine walk (10km, 1100 metres ascent, 7.5 hours) with stunning views in perfect weather with the one you love. Who could ask for more?
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