Quiet tarmac apart from a few cyclists made for an easy ascent, as did the concreted nature trail lined with cyclamen that followed. That soon gave way to more entertaining and indeed more sporting upward progress. Rifugio Scalorbi finally came into view, at around the cloud base, after a steep and occasionally exposed section, above which cows grazed and Ring Ouzels clucked.
The rifugio offered a lunch of pasta and coke, most welcome after our 1000 metre ascent, and by the time we'd finished the cloud was fast dispersing. This must be the boundary of Franco's E5 waymarking territory, as we couldn't find the next sign! So we took path 109 up to Bocchetta dei Fondi - at 2040m our highest point so far. A wonderful old track, lined with Edelweiss, with expanding views thanks to both the added height and the clearing clouds.
Small tunnels beside the path belied the troubled history of this area, of which more tomorrow. We are well into Italy these days, but that wasn't always the case.
Following Jules's comment we tried to liken the view from Bocchetta dei Fondi (pictured) to some area of the UK. We failed.
Care was needed on the descent over loose rubble and along thin paths across steep scree. This abrupt side of the Carega mountains was in deep contrast to the gentler southern side up which we had ascended. Gillian's guide book refers to 'a hands-on clamber' when climbing what we were descending. In descent, that route was exposed and loose - we found it much easier to run down the excellent scree instead. Great, for once we beat Gillian's time!
After the scree run, during which our noise had disturbed some nearby chamois, we strolled along more level ground, past banks of Butterwort and Yellow Wood Violets, before arriving beside a rock wall. Looking up, I spotted an excellent array of Giant Knapweed. Admiring the knapweed, Sue spotted, in a rock crevice, our flower of the day (pictured). It's always a thrill to find a good specimen of Devil's Claw.
From above, it had looked like another uphill slog to reach Rifugio Campogrosso. That was an optical illusion; by the time we had passed through some delightfully sunlit woodland to reach the pass, the Rifugio was nowhere to be seen! We turned right and soon found it.
Beers on the terrace at 4pm.
We were shortly afterwards joined by nine Germans coming along E5 in the other direction, and there are at least half a dozen others staying here as well.
Almost unnoticed, a middle aged gent arrived from the Monte Cornetto (the mountain directly to our north) direction with a large rucksack which he proceeded to empty. First out was a large coil of rope and various chunks of climbing gear. Then he produced four large fire extinguishers and handed them to the rifugio's guardian. Perhaps he had just taken them for some exercise. He was sporting an 'alpine guide' t-shirt.
A mountain meal of spag bol, meltinthemouth veal with polenta and greens, and apfelstrudel has accompanied more beer.
It may be early but it seems like time for bed. Or will that be more beer?
Jules - your point is well made, and does apply to the Lessini plateau. I was wondering whether today's transition could be likened to moving from the White Peak to some other part of Britain. But it can't. We've moved into the world beating scenery of the Dolomites.
Alan S - we are impressed that you have looked at our itinerary. You'll maybe have noticed that we are having a few days off, and you are cordially invited to join us for a couple of days in either Bolzano or Solden. We would be very impressed! (You only live once!)
We were tempted to take a more sporting route this morning, but with a fairly rigid timetable and no camping gear we (in retrospect correctly) considered that unwise. The E5 route runs through the countryside much in the style of the Pennine Way. It's surrounded by lesser paths. But less may be more, and a visit to any of the areas we pass through will be rich with choices for adventure. Not that there's anything wrong with E5, it seems (like the PW) to be a fine route. We are savouring every minute of it.
16km in 7 hours with 1300m ascent
Other E5 walkers - none en route, but there's a German group of 9, from Obersdorf in Bavaria, travelling south at the Rifugio - from Passo Coe to Verona, a six day trek
Flower of the Day - Devil's Claw (pictured)
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
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