Although we’d planned to complete our hike around Civetta today, crossing the wild terrain around 2476m (8100 ft) Forcella delle Sasse in the thunderstorms and heavy rain forecast for that afternoon would be too dangerous:
Instead, we decide to have a short day of just 5 km to the next Rifugia so we can spend the afternoon somewhere dry… with more yummy cake! After a quick pit stop – amazing where you find Gardena click-fittings and hoses!
Fascinating microclimates, such as cool, shady areas under enormous boulders that have tumbled from the scree
provide habitat for ferns and Viola biflora.
With more weather approaching
and another orchid, possibly Platanthera bifolia:
With great timing, we beat the deluge to Rifugia Vazzoler and, after stashing our gear,
retire to the dining room where I make happy discoveries in the bookcase. As rain pelts down outside, I spend a few fun hours browsing:
Later the weather clears, and we explore outside. In this high-altitude environment with its short season, growing herbs is a challenge, but someone at the Rifugia is trying, assisted by black plastic:
The little alpine botanic garden we visited last time has less in flower but, in the mist, is lovely nonetheless
while the forests around the Rifugia still have plenty still in bloom, such as Geum phaeum
and more members of the Apiaceae family, covered in hoverflies and demonstrating the value of these plants in our own gardens
The next day dawns clear. The weather forecast is excellent, but over dinner the previous night an experienced hiker told us that the via ferrata (steel cable, used with a climbing harness) section at the end of our circumnavigation is relatively exposed, and that it might be challenging without harnesses and carabiners. I don’t mind steep climbs and high places, but find exposed paths with drop-offs very scary, so we have changed our route to cross the Forcella but then, rather than following the high route along the flank back to Rifugia Coldai, to drop down into the valley and return to Pecol instead.
The walks proves to be exhilarating. The climb is relentless, but the way is thick with wildflowers, such as hybridising aquilegias
devils claw (Physoplexis comosa) in dry rocky cracks
and little Pinguicula vulgaris in moist rocky cracks
The views are spectacular: The spire is Torre Trieste, and you can see the tiny red-roofed Rifugia Vazzoler in the forest at lower left.
Now that we are no longer on any of the more well-known through-routes, we are overtaken by just one young couple. The trail is delightfully empty, and we have the whole, huge, glorious mountain to ourselves for the entire day. Higher and higher we go, the landscape becoming wilder and rockier.
The more altitude we gain, the faster the vegetation changes.
And, in a field of wildflowers,
while the views, unbelievably, become yet more breathtaking.
We don’t linger over our cheese, wurst and bickies – I’m getting antsy because, although the forecast is good, cloud is developing fast and beginning to curl over the jagged peaks surrounding us. The paint waymarkers are often difficult to spot in clear weather, let alone mist, and we are at around 2000m (7,000 ft). We need to cross the pass 500 m (1600 ft) higher, and be on our way down the other side before any weather arrives. That’s the pass beyond the meadow:
And pink and white forms of Thlaspi rotundifolium
As slowly, the Forcella delle Sasse comes closer.
Its sheer scale is a little daunting, but our guidebook assures us that the way up is nowhere near as bad as it looks, just a straightforward zigzag scramble… and indeed it is, the cloud putting a little hurry in our steps: