Lessons learned and summary:
- Despite “no entry” signs, it’s OK to take the asphalt path leading around Lago di Fedaia basin.
- Stores in Malga Ciapla close mid-September when the season ends. (Were already closed on 17th of September)
- Long ascent from Malga Ciapela onwards with lack of suitable camping spots
When we get a grip on ourselves, we continue onwards. That actually means going back – back to Lago di Fedaia basin. And just like that we found ourselves right where we started…over 4 hours of hiking….great! We will have to bypass the basin via an asphalt path leading around its shore. There is only one tiny little problem with it – there are no entry signs at the trailhead. The access is prohibited because of a danger and the fact that it is a private property. “Awesome! I have no clue how we supposed to get out of this bloody place”, I grumble. It’s not feasible across the mountains…we know that for sure and this way seems impassable too. After having another look at the map we conclude that there’s no other way (unless we want to road-walk) and we take the asphalt path after all. After few hundreds of meters we notice a heavy machinery operating on the steep rocky hillsides above us. We have no idea what it’s doing there but we finally got an idea about the sort of danger threatening here. We pass by a few tombstones. Some in memoriam of war victims, others of victims of the falling rocks. We meet few fellow hikers. The fact that we are not the only ones in here, gives me some comfort. It’s a strange place, I have to say. There’s a weird feeling of heaviness weighting me down….
Soon enough we find ourselves hiking trough a green plateau again. Step by step we are slowly bypassing the majestic Marmolada mountain. We are also gradually losing altitude. The hill we are descending is actually a ski slope. We get a chance to observe another big sheep herd spreaded out between the curves of meandring road. “Of all the glorious green pastures out there, why the heck do they let them graze right here?”, we wonder. Anyways, it must be quite a sight for the motorists passing by.
We are hoping that we could re-supply in Malga Ciapela and we are even toying with an idea of spending a night in the camp. There should be one according to the map. The vision of a warm shower enthuses me. Visualisation is a good driving force and the way goes by fairly quickly.
Malga Ciapela is a bit of a ghost town. Few hotels with planked windows, closed cable-car station and 3 small stores…all closed (naturally). We arrived 1 or 2 days too late. The season ended. We cannot buy supplies here and so we continue to the campsite. Alta Via leads through the campsite, therefore, it doesn’t constitute a de-tour…luckily. We see a caravan parked at the gate and we even meet few people. “That looks promising“, I rejoice. When we reach the reception, nothing but a locked entrance gate welcomes us. Nobody answers our persistant calls and rings. We learn from the website that due to COVID-19 the camp has not even opened this year. Too bad.
It’s rather late, we are hungry and we certainly don’t feel like going any further. We try to find a good camping spot in the surroundings. (We don’t want to camp on the campsite itself as that seems to be prohibited…after all, it is a private property). We are unsuccessful. There’s an asphalt road going through the area and a car or group of people passes by from time to time. All the potentially good spots are way too visible from this road. We don’t like that. In the end, we settle at a flat bank of a nearby stream. I take out my stove and start preparing the dinner. Meanwhile a group of people walks by. They soon notice us and keep staring at us for a few moments. The men walking in the front of the group makes several turns as if he was assuring himself that what he sees is real…that there really are two desperados sitting by the stream, cooking on the stove.
This unwanted attenion makes us nervous. Most likely there wouldn’t be any problem but we just don’t feel well in here. Despite our tiredness we decide to continue a bit further after dinner. Hopefully we will soon find a nice flat hidden spot to camp on….
2 hours and 430 altitude meters later we arrive all sweaty and exhausted at the foothills. The path splits here. While Alta Via continues uphill, an appealing left bend flat track dissapears around the corner. Thomas decides to explore where it leads, while I wait at the crossroad. It’s getting dark.
“So? What did you find?”, I ask Thomas as he returns. “Well, there are some buildings. They seem abandoned. Odd place, I didn’t like it.” It sends shivers down my spine. “Abandoned settlement in the mountains…amazing! OK, come on, let’s go“, I catch myself whispering (for no reason, or?). We move quickly and quietly. I try hard not to think of stupid horror movies like The Hills Have Eyes where someone captures, imprisons and tortures random tourists in abandoned mountain huts (LOL :D). At the edge of the forest, we encounter a glade where we decide to stay. It’s not ideal but we really don’t want to go any further anymore. It’s been an awfully long day. Meanwhile it got completely dark and so we have to build the tent blind. We don’t want to draw any attention with headlamps. What if the settlement isn’t completely abandoned after all…
While setting up the tent, I notice a few big rocks as big as a tent or a car scattered around. Furthermore, I noticed a couple of settled spots of tall grass when we first arrived. “Perhaps deers tend to sleep here”, I think to myself. I don’t like the rocks but there is no space in my head for more fears and worries right now. I think a creepy feeling of the abandoned settlement is more than enough for tonight. I better crawl into my sleeping bag and begin to sink into the pleasing darkness and unconsciousness of a deep sleep. In the middle of the night I’m suddenly roused from my sleep by a sound…