Sunday, 29 August 2010
Transalp '10 - Day 4 - 29 August 2010 - Lü to Arnoga
Distance: 35-40 km
Ascent: 1400 metres
Descent: 1450 metres
Time: 8.75 hours
These stats are estimates taken from 1:50000 maps where we have them, and from my watch when I remember to look at it. Times include breaks of around 1.5 to 2 hours each day.
Today was a lovely sunny one, as shown in the previous posting, but a cold northerly breeze led to our deploying wind shirts and gloves for much of the day. This didn't spoil our pleasure of stopping in high Alpine positions to admire the views and 'chill out' from time to time, as pictured - me on a bench this morning.
Today's mileage was modest, so we took our time. Our route passed through fine Alpine scenery and hardly touched any tarmac.
We ascended yesterday's descent route to Alp Champatsch, then took a high level traverse to Pass dal Fuorn, past a fine selection of late alpine flowers, including Alpine Eyebright with its miniature yellow petals, ubiquitous Field Gentians, a large (as in big-petaled) variety of 'Spring' Gentian, and numerous bellflowers, heathers and thistles, to name but a few.
The verges were frosty; the glaciated dome of the Ortler massif stood proud to the south east, and we met many walkers and a lone cyclist with panniers on this last Sunday of the main summer holiday season.
Pass dal Fuorn was busy with motorists and bikers of the engined variety, but we found a sunny table in Hotel Süsom Givè from which to enjoy views to the Ortler to accompany cappucini, nut cake and apfelstrudel.
Then a brisk descent and a short push before a glorious meandering track led to the Italian border. We stopped for a while to soak in the sun near a border stone and a proliferation of Edelweiss.
"One of the best MTB routes in the world", according to my esteemed Coordinator, then led us dramatically down a swooping zigzag path, to Lago Livigno. It was brilliant.
On the subsequent tracks to Lago di San Giacomo we met hordes of mountain bikers. We had entered the 'Transalp Biking Zone'. Apparently some 500,000 people enjoy Transalp trips every year, many of them guided.
Not many Brits, I suspect.
A shared bowl of pasta (we didn't want to spoil our appetites) at Rifugio San Giacomo fuelled us for the gruelling ascent to Trepalle and thence to Bochetta Trelina (I think).
"Where's the next map?" I enquired, when we dropped off the bottom of Wanderkarte 259T - 'Ofenpass'.
"At home" came the reply "but I know the way."
At least we have the Coordinator's overview and an A4 sheet covering our entire route, but tomorrow's mileage could be guesswork.
A fast dirt road along the edge of a precipice took us quickly to our unexpectedly expensive hotel in Arnoga, but the four course meal was excellent.
We were joined later by Hans, doing a 5-day Transalp route with a friend. They were having a good trip. Hello Hans, if you read this; I shall enjoy reading your own report.
One section towards the end of today involved a 400 metre ascent. First up a steep track that Markus managed to cycle whilst I walked. Then we both walked the final 150 metres up a cow track that should have been a footpath. Markus carried his bike over pools of slurry interspersed with bog, whilst I pushed mine. The bike is like a tank compared with my own old bike. Probably 15-20 kilos, so lifting it for any length of time is not on. I try to push it. I'm not complaining; it's a fine bike, but it may be like trying to ride a Ducati 500 after being used to a Honda 50, I suppose!
I understand there may be a bit more 'pushing' tomorrow. "Necessary for the best mountain views and to minimise tarmac sections" expounds Markus.
And I think I agree with him...
Next Posting - Day 5
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