Monday, July 19, 2010

Backpacking in Tessin: Laghi Boden->Lago Nero

Start the day by greeting a group of hikers who are passing by at shortly before 6 a.m. What are they doing? Where are the going? The weather is initially pretty clear, but then some clouds move in, the view shuts down, and the perceived temperature drops a bit. We do the normal backpacking start with the successful muesli experiment (though the temperature is really ideal for this), pack up the still-damp tent, and are underway by 8:30. Start the day right with a steep climb up 300m to the Bitta di Val Maggia over blocks and some residual snow fields. From the pass good views out over Tessin and back to Italy which we enjoy briefly before starting our way down.
We head around the valley wall for a while over block and rock and dirt and grass and snow (varied hiking it is!) and then head steeply down to the Lago dei Matörgn. While descending a steep patch of snow, Greg is too concentrated on his footing and misses a steinbock running 20m in front of him. We see it again in a couple of minutes, but it's dumb to have not seen the close encounter. Tja... Down to the lake and a nice energy bar break on a rock above it (the energy bars turned out well). Then onwards and onwards and onwards along the valley wall, with plenty of rock and block and a steady descent. Past a group of mostly abandoned stone huts at Arzo, and then steeply down to a stream which we follow to the steep descent to the Lago di Robiei.

The lake and the area around it are insanely crowded. Can't imagine what it must be like here on a weekend. We decided the forego the cool beverage in front of the octagonal hotel in order to avoid the crowds, grab a quick lunch in a shady spot near the dam, and then head onwards across the dam. Up the other side to a road and down to the path by the stream. Some fun finding a spot to cross the stream/river where Andrea didn't require Tevas, but we do make it. From there past Lielp and then it's steeply up (quite steeply sometimes, goat-path steep). The total climb is only about 500m, but since it is the heat of the day the packs do start to feel a bit heavy after a while. We eventually reach our high point and then traverse some very nice patches of block (Greg has an absolute blast) before reaching the lake.

We scout around for a while to find the optimal spot for the tent, then settle down. After setting the tent out to dry, the boots come off and we head down to dip feet in the wonderful lake. The pull of the deep, crystal-clear water eventually becomes too much for Greg, who strips down and dives in. He's in the water (COLD!) for max 15 seconds, but they are a really good and refreshing 15 seconds. Andrea will not be tempted to try... ah well, her loss! :-)

After another batch of yogurt making and some putzing around and view enjoyment, we pump water and make dinner (polenta with ground-meat-textured soy, tomato soup, and plenty of hot paprika) and pitch the tent.

We're a bit higher tonight and the tent is situated such that the sun drops between two mountains on the other side, so we have sun until almost 9... ah what luxury! We get some really cool effects from the low-angle reflection of the sun off the relatively smooth lake: ripples of light on the rocks, and a doubled shadow (once from the sun, a weaker one from the mirrored sun). Nice close to the day. :-)

A longer day than Sunday, and a very, very good one.

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