The campsite wasn't all bad though. Apart from the stony pitch and the noisy power station neighbour, the staff were happy and friendly, the showers were very good, there were good covered picnic tables and easy chairs, the bar was good, and the cost for two people with a car and a tent - €8. My advice to anyone using this facility - take earplugs if (unlike me) you can cope with them, and place your tent directly behind the climbing wall where you are sheltered from the sound of the power station.
We packed up after the rain stopped, and headed to the tourist information office. Soon we were in B&B Ca' Erminia where our host, Diana, realised that our breakfast of yoghurt and tea had been a little deficient. So we are actually staying in a B&2B establishment. It's a top of the range place with a lovely bed cum living room and all mod cons.
We were in no hurry, having abandoned a possible plan to walk part of the Alta Via delle Valmalenco on a hut to hut basis. The weather isn't brilliant and we are a bit tired from sixteen days' walking without a break. So today was just a recce.
We caught the 11.30 cablecar - Funivia Snow Eagle - lifting us in just a few minutes from 1000 to 2000 metres. There was lots of ugly ski paraphernalia at the top, but I think the skiing in Valmalenco is concentrated here, so most of the Alta Via should be free of such eyesores.
The rain started again soon after noon, and it remained showery thereafter.
Our route around Lago Palù took us to Rifugio Palù. Sadly we were unable to locate the mushrooms that Diana had alerted us to, but the lattes in the Rifugio were the best of the entire trip, served by happy smiling people relishing a busy Sunday at the Rifugio. What a contrast to the grumpy folk at Rifugios Averau and Nuvolau last week.
Our recce continued with a walk to nearby Alpe Roggione, where an elderly lady spends the summers living in a very basic shelter, pictured behind the folk in the above photo. She chatted to us whilst her grandchildren played in the Lilliputian houses nearby and her chickens ranged freely without even realising that they were chickens.
Three men appeared. After enjoying the delights of the Alta Via delle Valmalenco for three days they were descending in the day's indifferent weather before returning to work in nearby Milan. Jacobo, Paulo and Max are pictured in front of the old lady's house, together with Sue and Isabel. It was great to meet you three and we hope you get in touch with us and even visit the UK.
We soon stopped for an al fresco lunch during a pause in the drizzle. Then we completed an 8km circuit with 300 metres ascent, via Bocchel del Torno and Alpe Campolungo. There was the usual plethora of flowers in the view punctuated woodland, with masses of bellflowers, orchids, saxifrages and houseleeks, to name but a few.
By the time we'd returned to the B&2B via the cable car and Chiesa village, we'd decided to substitute Alta Via delle Valmalenco for next year's suggested trip to walk Alta Via 2 in September.
It was strange to look at our car and to puzzle how it looked as if it had spent the day in the Sahara desert and not in a Chiesa car park!
Later, in Ristorante Malenco, over a traditional local meal of Bresaola (air cured beef), Pizzocheri (pasta made with black flour, cheese, cabbage and potato), Sciatt (deep fried cheese balls with salad) and tiramisu/crema Catalane for dessert, our waitress explained the difference between the unerringly friendly people here and the grumps we had encountered at Rifs Averau and Nuvolau. "We are all Italians here" she claimed, indicating that many of those met in the South Tyrol area had different, non Italian, character traits.