Thursday 1 September - Rifugio Nuvolau to
Rifugio Passo Staulanza (by Martin)
AV1 Backpack - Day 5
Richard's 41st birthday
NB. 'Notchy' = Andrew; 'Cag Angel' = Sue; 'Birthday Boy' = Richard; 'Night Bird' = Jenny; Martin = 'Memory Man'
Thursday morning in our three bunk room at Nuvolau began soon after 6 am when Notchy drew the curtain to reveal shafts of light from the lazy sun trying to rise above the peaks to the east. The Cag Angel, twitching from dreams about men in felt hats, and I both turned over whilst Notchy got himself out to view a stunning sunrise with the mountain (what are they doing at the top of this mountain?) bikers.
I had had a good kip in the top bunk with no need for significant movement all night, thanks to my personal portaloo, though there was a touch of vertigo, and it was disorienting to have to stare up at what appeared to be a planked floor and skirting boards.
The Birthday Boy appeared in shiny clean blue apparel, the red version having been treated last night in a forlorn attempt to stem it's overwhelming will to impersonate a Chinese wrestler's jockstrap cooked in chip fat on a greasy day. Meanwhile the Night Bird arrived and consumed breakfast with us all without really noticing. The egg and speck (fried eggs and bacon) was our only cooked breakfast of the trip - excellent.
By 8:30 we were heading off in blazing sunshine. This was a wake up call for Night Bird, who was jolted into life for the day by the sight of the metal wire on the crest of the hill just beyond the rifugio. This route had been rejected by all the other AV1 walkers we had encountered, so we were on our own down the wires and a short ladder. Cag Angel transported gear on request, and everyone managed this 50 metre section without difficulty. Night Bird in particular was choughed (sic) especially as Birthday Boy found it not to his liking.
For a change, there were no queues on this via ferrata (Nuvolau/Ra Gusela, FALZ 4, grade 1A), of which the second section 20 minutes later was uneventfully negotiated; the only queue we noticed was one of huge ants waiting to cross the path.
After a bit of steep scree we rejoined the groccles and ambled down to Passo Giau (10:15 to 10:30) for some welcome refreshments and a chat with Roberto and Nicole, the fat Americans who had come via the western path. The hotel had excellent toilets despite the goat's bottom that protruded from the wall of the staircase leading to them.
The rest of the day was spent in this fabulous rock scenery in perfect weather, with no serious ascents or descents - a wonderful day's walk. "Great Day Walks of the World" contender, suggested Notchy. No one contested his view.We soon gained Forcella Giau (11:45 to 11:50).
We then passed some slumbering Germans - one with a distinctive felt hat attached to his sack. Suddenly he jumped up, and whilst we were lunching in a meadow of edelweiss, he surreptitiously photographed the Cag Angel as she posed in front of an open mackerel sandwich.This lunch spot below Col Ambrizzola (12:30 to 13:10) was idyllic.
We rambled on over the col and down to Forcella Roan (14:30) to the sound and sight of marmots, grasshoppers and cowbells, and past sumptuous clumps of field and other gentians, heather, monkshood, etc, etc, with the sheer face of Mount Pelmo looming closer and closer ahead.
Also wheatears and stonechats and a cuckoo sized brown bird of prey. Lots of bright yellow mushrooms that we think are edible (but we didn't try!).The closed Rifugio Citta di Fiume was passed at 15:05.
Then a contouring path took us across bright scree (oh for some sunglasses!) to our excellent hotel at Staulanza at 4 pm, just as the first spots of rain fell - a precursor to a later shower - the inevitable result of a humid day.Two rounds of beer were soon put away, the shower in our smart room for five was fully utilised, and we settled down to a fine meal accompanied by the usual dehydration agent (1½ litres of red wine) to alleviate nocturnal activities, and I lost to Sue at Uno. Water streamed off Mt Pelmo - a huge waterfall in the rain, and we discovered
[Note the deep blue sky in the Canon S70 digital images, compared with Fujifilm's more subdued blue hue. I think the digital colours are more accurate.]