After about an hour of climbing steeply through the woods above Cembra, the increasing darkness turned to rain, light at first but gradually increasing in solidity. Waterproofs were donned for just the second time in ten days. Five other E5 walkers were met, descending from Albergo Lago Santo. As has become customary, they don't recognise us as E5 walkers as we are going the 'wrong' way and Sue has no rucksack. There's just a "buongiorno" exchange - probably for one of the last times, as today we move into the more linguistically challenging German speaking area for the rest of the trip.
After the long 550 metre climb through the woods, we came upon the small but picturesque Lago Santo, and a delightful coffee stop at the Albergo at the far end of the lake.
Here our plans went a little awry when Sue discovered that she had left her engagement ring in Cembra. The ring was rapidly located and some other customers were requisitioned to reunite Sue with her valuables. She was driven back down to Cembra and then managed to hitch a lift back with Flora, who happens to work at the rifugio. She's an angel. Meanwhile I was recruited by Veronica (hello Veronica), a schoolgirl from Trento on holiday for a few days with her grandparents, to help her practice her English. She had been to Manchester and Liverpool and had an impressive command of English for her age.
Sue arrived back after an hour or so, and we enjoyed another coffee with the friendly staff at Albergo Lago Santa. I'd spent two hours there, but the time had passed very quickly and as we finished our second coffee the rain stopped and the sun came out.
Although it was still very hazy, the humidity had decreased and we enjoyed excellent walking weather for the rest of the day.
Our route took us through undulating mixed woodland with plenty of gaps to admire the views. Unusually there was no hostelry to provide lunch, so we had stocked up with tuna salad in Cembra, having eaten the last of the cans brought all the way from Verona on the summit of Monte Gronlait a couple of days ago.
Before that, shortly after leaving Lago Santo we came across a clearing full of newly sculpted tree trunks. "Where do you come from?" queried a voice from the other side of the clearing. It was Josh (hello Josh), from Sheffield, the first English person we had spoken to for ten days. I'm pictured with him and a stray nude. He was walking E5 from Bolzano to Verona.
Since Gillian wrote her guide book a new rifugio has been built - Rif Potzmauer, just below Passo del Potz Mauer. We stopped there for some expensive cokes. It's an ecologically sound establishment using solar and other such means of providing power - in a lovely glade - €40 for half board. Beyond that an easy path lined with orchids, lupins and cow wheat led through more beech woods with occasional views (pictured) across the Adige valley to the mountains beyond. A group of about eight German transalp cyclists passed the other way. An excellent choice of route, it seemed to me.
By and by we came upon the hamlet of Gfrill, or Cauria as it also seems to be known. Just behind the church our chosen accommodation for the night glimmered in the afternoon sun. A small party of walkers was enjoying a beer in the shade outside.
We went to check in. "V haf a problim" articulated Pension Fichtenhof's flustered owner. Despite our emailed confirmation, there appeared to be no space for us, so we would need to be shipped out to overflow accommodation. We frowned. Some negotiating took place with a lady in a walking group. We now have a double room, with the lady in a further room beyond ours. No problem.
So we adjourned to the terrace for beer and tea. Mirke, from Kressbronn by Lake Constance, joined us. He has biked over 400km over the Alps today and is visiting Pension Fichtenhof as a sort of ritual. People who come here always want to return, so it seems.
Pension Fichtenhof is renowned for its 'Slow Food' - home cooked fare from its own produce and other locally produced organic ingredients. We enjoyed a fine meal - the best of our trip to date - from a table overlooking the Adige valley far below, with alpine ranges stretching into the distance slowly being revealed as the cloud and haze cleared.
Patrick - the café at Lago Santo was indeed an excellent place to enjoy our morning coffee after the long ascent. We do really miss the wild camping, but on the other hand we've enjoyed the B&B hospitality.
Alan R - I thought I'd escaped from the flooding in Tod. They must be quite fed up with it! After your comment, Sue refused to pose with Josh, so you'll have to put up with my ugly visage today!
10 July 2012
17km in 7.5 hours with 1000m ascent
Other E5 walkers - Josh, from Sheffield, and 5 walkers descending to Cembra from Lago Santo
Flower of the Day - Spreading Bellflower (one of many types of bellflower that lined today's tracks)
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
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