Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maritime Alps Tour Day 19: Around the Rocca la Meja

Originally planned as a driving day, but we can't bear to leave the mountains just yet, so we drive down the Valle Meira a bit, headed into a side valley, found a place to sleep in Vernetti, then set off for a short hike. We have no desire to try and compete with yesterday, which was a real highlight, so this hike is more of a cool down day. :-)

From Vernetti we drive further up the valley, on some very entertaining narrow mountain road in our underpowered rental car until we reach the Colle del Preit (2083m). Not much room to park here, but we find a mostly suitable space and then set out. The plan is to walk around the Rocca la Meja and then have lunch at the Lagho Nero.

We start along the farm road across the lovely green high valley, under cloudless blue skies in somewhat warmer conditions. The road leads gently up for a while until we head off onto a foot path which we follow gently up throught he grass to the Colle d'Ancoccia (2533m). From here further up a bit to a fork with a nice "for expert hikers" indicator in our direction and a "normal" path in the other direction. Expert hikers? huh? We break out the book and actually read the description of the hike this time. Ah... yes... the book says there's an unmarked path to a saddle followed by a very steep descent on the other side. Ah well... the path is marked now, so they probably cleared up the other side as well.
Towards the Colle della Meja
Five minutes later we're in the Colle della Meja (2551m) and see that the other side is really steep and that there's still no real marked path there. Ah well... The first bit is quite steep, with highly marginal footing, but after that it's just a steep descent traversing under the wall of the Rocca la Meja.
The steep route down
There's a really nice controlled gravel slide passage that we both have a complete blas on, then a bit more normal descending, and then we're at the bottom. A short bit of block later and we find a normal marked path leading is downward through the trees.

This is a very nice path, good walking under the trees. Then we hit the blueberries and take a break.
mmm, blueberries
After a bit Greg declares a unilateral blue berry moratorium and we continue. Andrea keeps lagging behind and violating the moratorium, but we do manage to make some progress through the extremely difficult terrain (a longish green stretch where 50-75% of the ground cover is blueberry shrub). Eventually we reach another farm road, contour lightly down a bit more, and then turn off for the Lago Nero. We're both pretty hungry at this point since we "planned" our lunch break to be three hours into a four hour hike starting at 10am. Eventually we reach the lake and have a lunch break under a tree on the slope above the lake. Pretty lake, excellent views, amusing antics of the people down by the lake itself, it's a good break.
Lago Nero, Monviso in the background
After lunch it's further downwards in the same direction, a nice gravel slope traversal, descent inot a valley of cows, and then a short climb back to the car. We drive back to the hotel, have a cool beverage while "appreciating" the kitsch and the fact that German is the only language we hear. To be fair to the hotel: the place is kitschy and very oriented towards its German target audience, but the rooms are really comfortable and the people are very friendly.

Approximate stats: 11.9 km loop, 806m up.

2 comments:

Mauro said...

Hi,

Great blog!

You should really return to Rocca La Meja to climb up to the top, there is and incredibly accessible path with only one degree I passage with the help of a steel cable, then after a ramp a chimney protected on both sides take to the top, fantastic made easily reachable by the nature.

Go take a look to photos and videos on the internet.

Mauro

Greg Landrum said...

Thanks for the pointer Mauro; sounds like we should have done the climb. I'm sure the views are spectacular.