Saturday, 5 September 2015
The Alps - Day 17 - Alta Via di Valmalenco - Day 5 - Rifugio Lago Palù (1947 metres) to Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri (2813 metres)
13 km, 1350 metres ascent, in 6.5 hours including breaks.
Weather: sunny periods; cooler above 2600 metres.
Number one, Maria Louisa, and her able assistant (son) Bepe, ensured we didn't leave the comfort of Rifugio Lago Palù either hungry or thirsty. As today was deemed to be a short day we enjoyed a lie in, breakfasted at 8, and left soon after 9.
The proliferation of mushrooms, the careful negotiation of paths streaming with water from overnight rain, and the admiration of plentiful Eyebright, Grass of Parnassus and a multitude of thistles, all distracted us from the steep ascent to Bocchel del Torno on a day the coolness of which reflected the recent wet weather. However, we enjoyed a fair amount of sunshine even if our fleeces were worn above 2600 metres.
Descending a ski piste, we passed a couple of chaps who were servicing the snow making gadgets. Maria had told us that snow could be expected as low as Lago Palù any time now, and the first significant falls in October or November would last all winter.
We soon turned left onto what Gillian describes as 'an atmospheric old mule track'. Since then it has lost its 'atmosphere' having been resurfaced as part of a network of mountain bike tracks. I'm sure the asphalt will bed in and the mountain bikers will discover the excellent path, which today bore no sign of the passage of any tyres.
We soon crossed a river and climbed easily to Rifugios Musella and Mitta. Musella comes first, and Daniele was keen to take our order for cappacinos. We admired the array of mushrooms he had on trays outside the rifugio, all drying in the sunshine. We got the impression that both Rifugios are owned by the same family and that his grandfather built Mitta.
A little further on, Alpe Musella housed a herd of happy cattle, with cows whose noses could be stroked without scaring them. Tails weren't swishing; there were no flies. A lone martin was struggling to harvest any prey.
At the top of the meadow, we passed the time with two friendly shepherds who were curious as to our destination. They had a big woolly sheepdog and a bouncy puppy that enjoyed a fight with Sue once they got to know each other. It wanted to follow us up the hill.
Compared with some of the paths on the AVV the ascent up well graded zigzags to Rifugio Carate Brianza was very easy, and we had time to admire some great views, albeit the high summits remained in cloud all day.
Amanzio greeted us in the usual welcoming manner. He had no visitors yesterday and we were the first today. He doesn't expect any more. All this on an excellent route that is easily accessed, when there will be large numbers of folk trailing around the Tour of Mont Blanc and other higher profile but no more scenic trails.
One portion of tagliatelle between the two of us was more than enough for lunch!
That set us up for the final high level stroll through wonderful rock and ice scenery, to our 2813 metre home for the night. En route many varieties of flowers were spotted, so with Sue wanting to photograph each one, progress was slow. But there was no hurry and we reached the rifugio, perched high on a rocky outcrop, by 3.30pm.
The rifugio can accommodate 210 visitors. Tonight it's just the two of us, so we are hugely outnumbered by staff and effectively have our own personal chef for the pasta with mushrooms and the goulash that we've been promised.
Whilst I write this (5pm) Sue has ventured out along the path that leads eventually (EAO) [experienced alpinistes only] to Rifugio Marco e Rosa a Rocca (3600 metres). Meanwhile the hut dog, a wolf, is being restrained from trying to eat a nearby herd of goats.
Sue returned having got a view of the higher rifugio, which we understand has no visitors tonight, from a path junction at around 3000 metres.
Dinner was delicious.
Fresh supplies arrived by helicopter.
No goats, even the babies, were eaten.
We enjoyed an early night.
As expected, there is no wifi or phone signal here, though the staff make a great effort to keep the place warm for visitors. That's much appreciated by these particular visitors.
Looking back to Alpe Roggione
Below Alpe Campascio
Daniele and his mushrooms at Rifugio Musella
Looking back to Rifugio Carate Brianza
Looking up to Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri
Arriving at Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri