Thursday, September 15, 2011

Maritime Alps Tour Day 12: Rifugio D. L. Blanco -> S. Anna di Valdieri

We wake to good weather for the hike down to the valley. Nice play of sun on the mountains, mirrored in the lake, and the just-past-full moon.
Another beautiful morning
Since we don't need to pack the tent and everything, we're underway early. Nice path through the valley downwards with plenty of active and inactive alps and marmots and such things. We pass numerous people coming uphill past us.

Along the way a long discussion about how it makes sense to continue the trip. We decide to take a different approach: rent a car in Cuneo and then find good base camps (hotels, refuges, whatever) for multi-day stays in one place with interesting hiking. We get down to S. Anna di Valdieri (980m) at round 10:30, do a bit of exploring, and then go to the Balma Meris, a promising looking (and recommended) hotel/bar/restaurant for coffee/tea and to find out where the bus stop is. Further planning and web surfing during the hour we sit in the shade int eh garden, very relaxing. The plan is to take the bus to Cuneo, stay the night, rent a car, and then head onwards.

We're at the bus stop at around noon for the 12:15 bus down to Cuneo (the single bus that runs through town today). 12:15 rolls around, no bus. Ah well... we're not in Switzerland. 12:30 rolls around, no bus. hmm... 12:45, no bus... 1:00, no bus... At 1:15 we give up and go back to the hotel to see if there's a number we can call to find out what the heck is going on. There isn't a number we haven't already tried, but there is a later bus further down the valley we could take and the really friendly and helpful guy from the hotel offers to drive us down. After a bit of thought, consultation of the bus schedule, thinking about how nice the hotel looks, and considering what it would mean to hit Cuneo at 8pm, we leap outside the box and decide to stay at the hotel for the night and get a ride further down the valley for the morning bus to Cuneo. Good decision! After a really nice lunch we take showers, take a nap, do some more exploration of our options, have an aperitif, play some cards, then have *another* really nice meal before collapsing into bed.

It was a really great call to stay at the Balma Meris. The atmosphere and music were great, the food was excellent, and the guys were super friendly and helpful. They took really good care of us.

Approximate stats: 6.6 km, 8m up, 908m down

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