Lessons learned and summary:
- Bivouac (Carlo Minazio) a 2 rifugios (Rif Treviso a Rif Cereda) on this stage
- Long and hard ascent after Rif Treviso
- Stay at rifugios should be booked up-front; COVID precautionary measures in place (year 2020)
- Lack of good camping spots after Passo Cereda
The night in the “cursed valley” under Cima Canali massif was quite pleasant in the end. Actually, it was the most pleasant night so far. The morning is chilli though. We pack our staff and depart. We need to descend all the way to the bottom of the valley – that means about 1,000 meters altitude loss. One would think he will at least get some rest…But going down usually sucks even more than going up. At least my knees definitely think so.
Descending to lower elevation, we encounter other remains of the 1957 plane crash. Back then, Lockheed P-2V6 Neptune plane crashed into the mountain wall in around 2,650 meters above sea level. The tragedy was reportedly caused by poor weather conditions and wrong calibration of the navigation systems. It claimed 11 lives.
One piece of plane lying near the path is particularly massive. The ultimate commemoration of the sad event is a monument built from the pieces of plane brought down from the mountains. It is found next to the bivouac – Carlo Minazio (2,292 m.a.s.l.).
As we approach the bivouac, we notice pieces of clothes drying out on a clothes-line. “Look, it seems like someone is inside“. Few minutes later, two middle-aged men exit the bivouac. Their backpacks are possibly even bigger than ours…a that’s something. Judging based on the retro design, they’ve certainly been through a lot (I mean the backpacks).
We descend further down to the Valle del Pelle. There’s a river at the bottom of the valley. I was quite determined to do some hygiene there…this determination, however, dies the very second I dip my finger in the water. “No, there’s no way I’m doing this….this is like the coldest water on Earth!. “Well, let’s at least rinse our socks and eat something.”
Did someone say “eat”? My stomach twists with painful cramps. Hikers hunger is hitting us big time already after those few days of immense caloric output. It is insatiable. We have to be careful with our food supplies though. There’s not that much left and we need to get by with it all the way till the end of the trek. With a big dose of self-denial I settle for a piece of bread and few slices of salami. I quickly put the rest of the food into the backpack to avoid temptation. Well, what can we do…I guess nothing but to accept our faith of being stinky and hungry hikers and move on.
We need to climb a little bit back up again to rifugio Treviso. To our pleasant surprise, it is still opened. We stop by for a traditional limón-soda and beer. And also for a Rittersport chocolate which I eat immediately in one sitting. After that, we continue. We walk on an easy flat forest path…this is a real rarity here on Alta Via! But it doesn’t take long before we reach a crossroads. While Alta Via leads all the way up to a steep hill (what a surprise…), the pleasant forest path continues down the hill and would bring us to a town soon. Our eyes meet and I can see we’re thinking about the same thing. “Screw it! Let’s go home.” Shower, food, bed, warmth, dry and clean clothes…..that’s a tempting image for sure!
We manage to resist eventually. We can’t give it up now when we only have 3 more days until the finish line. 2 and a half actually. It would be a pitty to call it a day when we are so close…
Let’s do this!
After just few meters into the climb, I already feel the tired and weak. This goddamn hill is very long and it exhausts me. Despite the relatively chilly temperature, I take off almost all layers of clothes. I’m overheated and all sweaty. Thomas is somewhere far far ahead. The climb is never-ending….I know I say this about every second hill or so but this one truly seems never-ending to me. I need to spur myself on the whole time. And it is now still only morning…When I reach the pass, I literally drop down dead.
While catching my breath and dressing up, I watch heavy grey mist rising up towards us from the valley. Drip, drip, drip. Before we know it, small cold raindrops are falling down on us. We decide to make a lunch before moving on regardless. We make some tortelliny with meat filling. Warm meal hits the spot. Those are exactly the moments when I don’t understand how hikers can get along just with cold-soaking.
We are accompanied by rain and mist throughout the whole afternoon. Only towards the evening, the sky begins to clear up again. From time to time a piece of blue sky peeps through the clouds.
We pass by an odd, mostly abandoned (or at least very quiet) settlement in Passo Cereda. We also go past another rifugio. Even though we have no idea where we are going to spend the night today, we do not even consider staying here. Not that we would turn down a warm shower and a roof over our heads but we are discouraged mostly by the COVID precautionary measures (for instance a need to buy a single use sheets or a sleeping bag sac) which would complicate the whole stay and make it more expensive. Furthermore, it is unclear if we would succeed without a reservation anyways.
Thruth is, I would like to pitch camp as soon as possible. As it turns out, this won’t be a easy thing to do. Ahead of us is a few kilometer long section of a forest road. On one side, there is an uphill slope, on the other side a downhill slope. No flat spot as far as eye can see. And whenever we find one, it is very visible from the road which is something we don’t like. There’s nothing left to do than to grit our teeth and keep moving.
Around 8 p.m. we reach a picturesque small house with mountain view. Behind it, there’s a perfectly flat spot….just right for a tent. We indend to ask the owner for a permission to stay for the night. We knock and knock but no one is opening the door. After a while, we notice a sign behind a window saying: “Vendesi” – “For sale”. “Ah, OK, I don’t think anyone is home“. The chances of someone suddenly appearing here on Monday evening seem pretty low to us. Therefore, we decide to stay either way. Without further hesitation, we build our tent on a ground behind the house. Desperate situation calls for a desperate action. And if someone would arrive afterall, we do have a plan. We will simply pretend that we are interested in buying this little house and we wanted to experience this place first…in a tent. Considering our current “homeless look” (and smell), I’m pretty sure anyone would fall for this story….definitely….without a single doubt.