Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Maritime Alps Tour Day 11: Lago inf. di Valscura -> Rifugio D. L. Blanco

Another cloudless blue sky morning and 8:50 departure time. A lone hiker goes by under the full moon at around 6:30 and a couple small groups of guys who look like workers pass while we're packing up.
Every morning should start this clear and still
We start the day with a climb, at first gently then not so gently out of the valley on the side opposite where we came in. Up go with the morning sun at our backs and a gentle breeze keeping us cool; good walking! We continue until reaching the crossroads at the Laghi inf. di Valrossa (2485m), where we take the fork deeper into the valley, past the lakes, instead of that to the Colle di Valmiana. Here we're following yellow markings and plenty of stonemen, easy way finding. Eventually we hit the upper lakes, take an energy bar break, inspect the map, and play the "which of those high passes is the pass going to take us through?" game.
Which of those saddles are we going to?
After some really nice block walking/climbing it becomes clear (we had guessed wrong). The next 100m or so of climb are on blocks, which is a complete blast.
Fantastic block
We're grinning ear to ear by the time we're through it. This is followed by a very steep stage alternating dirt and gravel that is less entertaining, particularly the gravel parts. A last bit of block climbing and we're in the Colleto est della Paur (2890m), with the expected great views to either side.
Laghi soprano and settano della Sella from the Colleto est della Paur
After a quick water and photo break we descend the other side. This is pure block (no gravel, thank goodness, going down something like what we just came up would not have been much fun) except for a brief bit of snowfield that is soft enough for an easy heel-kick crossing. Lunch break in the sun/shade/sun/shade in the blocks on the other side of the snowfield with great views and then we start descending in earnest.

Past a couple of groups of nice lakes, always following the royal hunting path (or what's left of it), up some, down more, through the Colle della Valletta (2488m).
Some lakes on the way down
Down to the fantastically beautiful Lagho soprano della Sella (2329m), further down, with the Rifugio D.L. Blanco (1910m) in view below at the end of the Lagho settano della Sella (1882m).

The beer is calling. The pace picks up. We talk about maybe just staying the night in the hut and continue our descent.  At some point it becomes fairly clear that the hut, which definitely should still be open, is closed. Damn! Greg starts concocting absurd scenarios where he will get his beer. Arriving at the hut, shure enough it's closed. We scout a bit for a campsite and find a couple of marginal candidates, then settle down for a rest and wash. Andrea does some more reading, we share our outrage that the hut is closed (supposed to be open until the 15th! this is the 14th!), then Andrea discovers the hut's winter room. Unusual in Italy that it's there, but there you go. We check it out, deem it cozy and preferable to camping on a bumpy or slanted spot, and move our stuff in. More resting, some cards, dinner, some cards, log writing, bed.
Making dinner outside the Rifugio
Note: both today and yesterday we walked past enormous numbers of blueberries. We could have picked liters of them, but then we wouldn't have seen anything. Still, sometimes it was really hard to not just stop, pick, and eat. :-)

Dinner: Soup: vegetable with dumpling enrichment. Main: Polenta with salami and porcinis in honor of the hut. Trick for getting the fine polenta to be mostly right without using massive amounts of gas: Cook polenta a bit. Let it stand covered 5 minutes. Add a bit more water and cook a bit longer. Let it stand covered 5 minutes. Add more water, let it cook a bit longer, and serve. This worked quite well.

Approximate stats: 11.1 km, 775m up, 1143m down

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