Martin on Cnicht

Martin on Cnicht

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Alps - Day 16 - Alta Via di Valmalenco - Day 4 - Albergo Chiareggio in Chiareggio (1612 metres) to Rifugio Lago Palù (1947 metres)

Thursday 3 September 2015

15 km, 1050 metres ascent, in 7.3 hours including breaks.

Weather: overcast with very occasional sunshine.

Breakfast comprised the usual cereal and yoghurt, bread and butter and jams, and huge jugs of tea and coffee, served cheerfully by Flavia, the matriarch of this family concern.

The bill was a surprise, as usual. Just €109 for half board and various drinks. I think we are relieved to have chosen the Italian Valmalenco route rather than the Swiss Bernina one!

It was wet outside but not raining, looking as if we were setting off in just a brief pause from the rain, which was forecast to fall on and off all day. A bit of a potential problem for Sue, who has left her shiny new waterproofs at home and has brought a version that can be likened to blotting fabric. Luckily the rain held off all day and we even received some rays of sun in what was mainly t-shirt and shorts weather.

The rain started again after 5 pm, an hour or so after we arrived at Lago Palù.

Easy paths, initially through fungi rich pine woods, led up to Rifugio Longoni, where Elia was in residence. We passed on Gillian's best wishes and chatted with him over coffee for a pleasurable half hour. He was the only person we encountered on today's walk, and we may have been the only people he encountered all day after waving off two English couples who stayed there last night. They must have continued beyond Lago Palù as they aren't here.

Elia also confirmed that the bright blue 'spring' gentians we've been seeing are Bavarian gentians and not short-leaved gentians. There are some very near his rifugio.

Looking back, we could see yesterday's lunchtime venue - we gave Piero a wave. Looking down, we watched a nearby kestrel hovering then diving, with success.

We could have taken a path directly east from the rifugio but we followed Gillian's instructions to the letter and retraced our steps to a flagpole before descending to a track. This track led towards a large building on the horizon. It used to be the access road to Rifugio Scerscen, which was a base for summer skiing on the glacier beyond it. Nowadays the glacier has receded and the building has been abandoned.

We followed the good track for a while and enjoyed some goats cheese and tomatoes from the shop across the road from last night's hotel.

Then the hard part started. A traverse with little climbing - apart from the giant boulders that litter the route. Slow going, but we beat the signposted time by 30 minutes or so. Sue and I have done quite a bit of boulder hopping. It's quite fun! But very slow going as care is needed.

There were good views down the valley to Sondrio and the mountains to the south. Lots of tempting places to visit.

The weather was slowly closing in, with high mountains gone for the day, but we were pleased to find Willow-leaved gentians on the path through pine trees to Lago Palù, where the Rifugio is of the 'extremely comfortable' variety as opposed to the merely 'comfortable'. We were expected, as Flavia had phoned ahead for us. Our policy on this trip is a 'day by day' one, as there is no likelihood of anywhere being fully booked. It's courteous though to phone ahead on a daily basis for catering purposes. So far, the guardians/hoteliers have been happy to do that for us.

There are just two other guests tonight, Hans and Danielle, a French Swiss couple from near Lausanne. We spent a very pleasant evening with them whilst 'Number One' served up an excellent six course meal and Number Two entertained himself by opening bottles of fizz and distributing them to anyone in the room, handing out antipasta, and throwing logs onto the fire. This trip is becoming a culinary challenge and for the second day running we failed to finish our main course.

Today's pictures:
Chiareggio
Ascending above Chiareggio
The view down the valley towards Sondrio 
Waterfalls
On the boulders
Outside Rifugio Lago Palù 

5 comments:

Gill&Nick said...

wish I was there - especially for the culinary challenges! This might turn out to be the first trek when you both put on weight. Keep up the good work. Hope the weather is kinder to you today. Gillian

AlanR said...

Stunning scenery Martin.

Phreerunner said...

Yes Gillian, there's no doubt that we WILL put on weight. Luckily for me I lost 5kg in the Pyrenees earlier in the summer....

The weather is much better today, and Alan is right, the scenery is stunning.

Louise said...

I'm glad to see Sue (and you!) having a pleasant trip with lots of scenery and good food.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Louise.
We woke to four inches of snow today. "Merry Christmas! "