Hello you two, we hope that by the time you read this you will have completed a very satisfying trek.
After a basic breakfast and little or no conversation with the other two couples staying at the rifugio, we set off to fill our water bottles from a nearby spring as Rif Lancia's water was allegedly undrinkable. The spring was dry. Never mind, today was a relatively temperate day - 17-24C temp range. We did have some water, and eventually came to a working spring (pictured) within three hours of setting off - at about 1740 metres as indicated in Gillian's book, overlooking an impressive limestone spire. Today's route had set off through meadows crammed full of Leopardsbane, Black Vanilla Orchids and Yellow Rattle, following what were probably military tracks, but were possibly never navigable by vehicle. At various points wartime buildings and trenches were encountered, and the terrain was sometimes vertiginous but at other times the path threaded a thin line through verdant meadows.
As usual there were some woodland phases of today's walk, and as usual these were a mixture of steep climbs and descents, and more amenably graded sections such as the final gentle descent to Passo Coe. The steep pull up from our long lunch at Malga Borcola provided the unlikely sight of an abandoned lorry on the path, next to an abandoned quarry and its offices. Alan R will no doubt be able to identify the lorry when I put up its picture.
Ravens cawed at us from heady rock spires and from the huge cross that marks the 'summit' of Monte Maggio by way of a War Memorial. Today's second picture is taken from the base of that cross, where war time trenches and gun emplacements litter the ground. There do appear to be higher parts of the mountain, but this is not a peak bagging trip, so hey!
We disturbed chamois a couple of times today. They make a noise like a scalded cat before scampering off up a precipice or away through the trees.
Some birds of prey were active on the slopes of Monte Maggio. Very angular, chestnut coloured birds a bit bigger than a cuckoo. We had no idea what these were, but the flurry of swifts over the summit a few minutes later was unmistakable.
Earlier we had come across the 'river of sheep' seen in the distance yesterday. They weren't all sheep. Goats and mules also roamed within the small temporary pen in which they had overnighted. Sue soon discovered that the pen was electrified, and we tried to rescue a lamb that had got trapped under the fence and had perhaps been receiving unwelcome pulses of power during the course of the night. When freed of the fence it perked up but remained unable or unwilling to move its legs. It was a lot healthier however than the mole or the shrew that we found at 1800 metres on the slopes of Monte Maggio!
As we left Monte Maggio's summit we encountered an elderly couple walking to the top, the only folk we'd seen on the paths all day. They didn't respond to our greeting. A few more people were on the path lower down, as was a posse of mountain bikers that tore past us on the approach to Passo Coe.
We are happily installed in Rifugio La Stua, bloated after another filling meal, and ready to flake out as soon as it goes dark. The two other residents are middle aged Italian ladies with sore muscles, and the workman engaged on constructing an extension has thankfully packed away his drill.
There's no phone signal here, so transmission may have to wait until tomorrow, when storms are forecast so the phone may be deeply stashed. And tomorrow's entry may be written later as Saturday is a rest day...
Laura - good to hear from you - yes, it's proving to be a very amenable route, and for the moment we are missing the storms just as we did when passing through your area on our Italian Border Route.
Markus - greetings! This is a great route so far, with lots of variety. The 'Peace Route' sounds interesting. Bit I wonder whether it might get depressing at times, or would it just make us realise how fortunate we are to live in such relatively peaceful and affluent times. Today's l'Adige (our local paper) comments on how the wartime artifacts hereabouts are increasingly becoming tourist attractions.
NB It's good to receive a comment after sending a posting as I'm never quite sure whether or not the posting has 'taken'. I receive the comments as soon as I have a phone signal. I don't have internet access (until we find some WiFi - maybe Bolzano) so I can't check the postings. The Blackberry sometimes changes its mind about whether a posting has 'taken', which doesn't help, and my space on their server seems to be very limited, probably full of old stuff - but I have no idea as to how to view and delete it!
5 July 2012
16km in 7.5 hours with 1000m ascent
Other E5 walkers - Karina and Rabea
Flower of the Day - Black Vanilla Orchid - a star of the alpine limestone meadows
Rain seen since leaving Timperley - none
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange