15.5 km, 550 metres ascent, in 6.4 hours including breaks.
Weather: blue sky with frost, turning to sunny periods with a cool easterly breeze.
We woke to frost and a clear blue sky. Allessio and the three dogs supervised the traditional rather paltry high rifugio breakfast, but unlike yesterday I enjoyed a large jug of coffee.
We were away by soon after 9 am on the sunny but cool morning. Marmots were playing nearby. Some look so small that we wonder how they'll survive the winter.
The path was straightforward, with no need for white lines to accompany the yellow guiding triangles. Luca had explained how the hut teams set out every year with pots of paint in an effort to mark the best routes across the ever shifting boulder fields. We found their white stripes on the rocks on which it was safest to step very helpful when crossing Forcella di Fellaria yesterday.
Today we decided against Gillian's suggested route across the Lago di Gera dam and instead took Allessio's advice and rounded the northern end of the lake, a route of similar distance and timing.
Wrens and redstarts were encountered. We've also seen snowfinches, choughs, dippers and a number of other species.
Soon we encountered other walkers. Having seen virtually nobody for 3 to 4 days this was something of a novelty. There were lots of people out today - including a group of about 40 on the path that traverses high on Sassi Bianco. We even met a large chap descending Valle Poschiavino with a cigar in his mouth.
Elevenses were taken overlooking the reservoir, which is by no means full and is a rather sickly pale turquoise colour.
Alpe Poschiavino had shut for winter, the cattle having been returned to the valley. It looks an idyllic place in which to spend the summer.
Above the alpe we soon reached the snow line again and we enjoyed the gentle climb, subject to a few easy chains near the top, to Passo de Canciano on the border with Switzerland.
Lunch comprised cups of tea and a twix/snickers bar. Don't feel sorry for us, we've been eating far too much!
Even at this late stage of the year, the kidney vetch and moss campion described by Gillian were still in evidence as we made our way up to our high point of the day, 2615 metre Passo di Campagneda, where we enjoyed views towards Monte Disgrazia through a large wooden arch. There are also excellent views towards Bernina from here, but today those summits were embraced by cloud.
The descent to Rifugio Cristina was gentle and uneventful, past picturesque lakes with the fine peak of Monte Disgrazia in the background.
The rifugio is in a lovely meadow together with a number of small dwellings, mostly adorned with solar panels. The rifugio itself is powered by a turbine, and a small stream running past the front door powers a butter making churn.
Pizzo Scalino, the 'Matterhorn' of Valmalenco, towers above us at 3323 metres.
After being the sole visitors at the last two rifugios, tonight we have the company of a family of five. The family run establishment has fed us very well. I've come to prefer these family run concerns to the places run by highly qualified people who are escaping the rat race for a while.
Whilst at Bignami last night a couple of campers passed through. It would be perfectly feasible to walk the AVV on a wild camping basis, especially in September when the cattle and their shepherds have returned to the valley. We have enjoyed the hospitality of the rifugios though, and the benefits of carrying just a light rucksack. The cost of the eight day circuit will be less than the 900 euros we set out with.
The view north from Rifugio Bignami
Ascending Valle Poschiavino
On the Swiss border
A chat with a chap from Ecuador
The view down Piano di Campagneda with Monte Disgrazia
Outside Rifugio Cristina with the butter maker