The 900 metre ascent to Doss Radond (2234 metres) covered 9km and took me nearly two and a half hours. Richard was much quicker, and had got cold waiting. His feet, in shoes still wet from yesterday, remained cool all day. At my slower pace, and quite a bit of the 900 metres ascent involved pushing my bike, I remained comfortably warm. Keen Targhee shoes, and ankle gaiters, ensured that my feet remained dry and warm.
I was surprised to see a goldfinch near the high point.
An easy descent down a rough track to Alp Sprella was pretty enjoyable in improving weather, then a left fork took us down classic singletrack to Passo Val Mora. I've been in similar places before, but for Richard this was some of the best mountain biking he'd ever experienced. The route traverses dramatic scree slopes laden with vertiginous excitement, and passes through forests of dwarf pine trees, as it progresses high above the raging torrent in Val Mora.
After that we zoomed along to Giacomo Lake and found a signpost to Livigno. Richard had started up the track before I had a chance to nominate Giacomo Café as a suitable spot for a breather. Four cyclists had passed us and headed to that fleshpot, a flat kilometre off our route, and I would really have liked to follow them. Never mind...
A push/ride got us slowly up to the final summit of the day, Passo di Val Alpisella, 2268 metres. I had to return after starting the descent, to pick up my sunglasses. Some deja vu involved there!
The descent to Lake Livigno was steep and loose. Care needed. Yesterday's descent down a gravel track could be taken at 20 mph; today was a test for the brakes and at closer to 10 mph. Still good fun.
We were rewarded with coffees at the Ponte delle Capre rifugio by the lake. The smelly toilets detracted from this experience.
During the day we saw quite a few walkers and cyclists, not put off by the disappointing weather. Drizzly at times, with high peaks swathed in cloud. Fine for mountain biking though.
Our final task was to locate the B&B booked by Markus. Google maps came to the rescue and saw us pushing our bikes up a final steep hill, a couple of km outside Livigno, to Baita Luleta. The place was deserted but a phone call soon had someone arriving to sort us out. A slightly weird place. Tea making equipment but no suitable cups until we managed to find some in the kitchen; a shower that generates cramp unless you're a contortionist, and various other quirks.
The place is supposed to be full tonight, but we've seen no other guests.
Dinner was procured a few minutes down the road at Rifugio la Calcheira, where half a dozen staff stood around and cocked up our order. When the correct food did arrive, it was very good. The technique for serving wine was one that we hadn't encountered before and involved the waiter sneaking off with a few millilitres before pouring us some to taste.
A pleasant evening was enjoyed by all. Richard had chats with Joe and Diana, and Sue called from Tuoi hut. "Have you been cycling today?" I thought she asked. It wasn't a good line and the call ended quite quickly, after which I was unable to interpret her question, as Richard and I are specifically on a cycling trip - route 444 in the Swiss National Park. That's what it says on the can. So why are we now in Italy? Such are the mysteries of the Engadine.
Leaving Santa Maria
Lots of Bellflowers including harebell and fairy bells
Lots more flowers
Assorted tits (no fondling)