Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Monday 4 July 2011 - An Alpi Marittime Trek, Day 3, Rifugio Questa (2388m) to Rifugio Remondino (2430m)
13km, 1000m ascent, 6.6 hours.
Cloudier today, but fine with sunny intervals until 3pm. At least yesterday's sunburn didn't get any worse.
Breakfast was better at Questa, with plenty of bread and plenty of coffee. Just as well, as although Ennio said we would be able to get lunch at Rif Regina Elena, his optimism was misguided and he could have sold us packed lunches.
It turns out that Sue and I have met Ennio before. He worked at the visitor centre in Terme di Valdieri in 2008 and kindly put on for our benefit an English language version of a film about the reintroduction of ibex to this area. He also helped with accommodation suggestions and with the identification of a lammergeier that we had seen (we had thought it was an eagle).
An 8.45 departure saw us strolling in a minor procession along more of the magnificently constructed King's hunting paths. Imagine 5 metre high dry stone walls laid horizontally through boulder fields. Roger, who spends a lot of time dry stone walling, would be impressed - these 'paths' even have kerbs! We could just imagine the king in his chariot rumbling along them some 150 years ago in his misguided quest to hunt the ibex to extinction.
Sue and Susan are pictured today, at around 2400 metres, near Lago inferiore di Fremamorta, on a section of the hunting path.
We got ahead of most of the Germans (described jokingly by Ennio in more racist terms that I hesitate to repeat here - they are all very nice), leaving two of them to attempt an obscure route to Remondino (they failed to turn up).
Meanwhile, James and Helen headed down for lunch, and the three of us visited first a memorial cross (by mistake) and then the red metal hut of Bivacco Guiglia. We wanted to show Susan that such a place could be home to nine visitors. We succeeded - there was sufficient to confirm that three people could enjoy a comfy night here - but there are basic provisions, cups, blankets, beds, etc, sufficient for nine.
The descent to Rif Regina Elena was steep at times, but not unpleasant. James and Helen were sitting disconsolately outside. We had all omitted to read page 147 of Gillian's excellent guide book. Despite Ennio's assurance, no food or drink was available as we hadn't given them 'at least one day's warning'. We enjoyed the rest of our reserve supplies, James's errant jelly was repatriated and eaten, and water was the food of life. The Rifugio could have taken at least €50 off us, but preferred to continue with a family party. Fair enough!
The 600+ metre ascent to Rifugio Remondino should take two hours based on Gillian's accurate estimate. But the sky had darkened; spots of rain caused us to hasten our pace. I led the intrepid quintet across a river - a risky leap instead of a bridge lower down. Nobody complained! A steady pace enabled us to knock 20 minutes off Gillian's estimate. The raindrops increased. J and H stopped to don waterproofs. I stopped a little higher when the rain turned to serious hail. I then discovered that waterproofs were not needed. I had inadvertently paused under an overhang. In a brief pause before the storm set in, we all managed to reach the Rifugio, fairly dry, at 3.20.
It's an excellent spot with good food and wine. And a hot shower that worked intermittently for some of us as the power went on and off in the storm. €5 for a shower, so the three of us shared it - quite interesting in a small dark room with intermittent power...
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange