GTA – Decisions, decisions

Day 17: 26 July 2019

“Celui qui regarde trop la méteo, reste au bistrot.”, is a French saying among sailors that roughly translates as: if you watch the weather forecast closely you will not get out and play.

Those of you who have sailed with me might remember some exhilarating moments.

For two days the talk amongst hikers has been about the forecast violent storms for Saturday and Sunday. Where to stay?

Some decided to stay at Oropa. Arriving there, I decided to keep on for the next stage; there were a few options to stop on the way.

The gondola up to the start of the hike disappeared into clouds. Did this make sense?

As I walked the air switched between cold cloud and warm sun.

I arrived at Rifugio Coda at about 15:00. Staying was possible, but if it meant spending two nights, it would have been long. It was already lost in clouds.

The next stretch was really tough: climbing along the crest and an ever receding hilltop. To the left a cold wind blew clouds upwards, to the right it was warm and dry.

“Bushwhacked” is a great Australian word which conveys somewhat more than being lost.

Off the crest I was bushwhacked. I wasted an hour looking for the trail. Now I was going to arrive late without knowing if there was a bed and whether I could get food.

The agriturismo welcomed me and prepared food even though I arrived at about 21:00. It has been one of the best meals I have had so far.


GTA – Refugio Rivetto to Santuario San Giovanni

Day 16: 25 July 2019

Last night we had the spectacle of local trail runners climbing 1,100 m in 45 minutes, drinking beer and wine, having dinner, then running back down using headlamps. They laughed on the way down.

My descent took two hours.

Rosazza is surprisingly big with grandiose buildings.

It was a pleasant stroll through forests to Santuario San Giovanni.


GTA – Rima to Sant’ Antonio di Val Vogna

Day 14: 23 July 2019

Just before Alagna is Pedemont, with many beautiful barns that remind me of Valais.

Alagna Valsesia looks like a ski resort. One shop was open selling ripe fruit. I bought apricots, prunes and a small dark purple prune I have never seen. Then I sat and ate them all.

To finish this stage was walking along a road. I was offered a lift all the way.

The refuge here is attractive, so I decided to end early and stay the night.


GTA – Alpe Baranco to Rima

Day 13: 22 July 2019

A climb to Colle d’Egua before a long descent to Carcoforo.

Carcoforo appears as a dense network of stone roofs. Once in the town it is pretty, with some Walser buildings.

Lunch was cold meats and cheese.

The next stage is described as long and challenging. Rather than spend the afternoon in Carcoforo, I decided to start the next stage. Two water points along the way offered potential places to stop and camp.

There was nowhere to camp. The second water point was at a goat farm with a guard dog. He merely growled as I passed, but made it clear stopping was not welcome.

As I was making good time I continued to Rima.

Rima is pretty and prosperous. It is higher than many villages which gives it a good view.


GTA – Campello Monti to Alpe Baranca

Day 12, Sunday 21 July 2019

Everyone speaks about a great restaurant at Rimella, and I was looking forward to trying the antipasti.

Yet Sunday lunch, was a family gathering likely?

All they would serve me was pasta. Oh well, keep moving.

I hiked through deserted villages and villages that are renewing themselves.

Alpe Baranca is reputed for a warm welcome and good food. After compleyeing two days hiking in one, I arrived just in time to enjoy both.


GTA – 2 days

Days 10 and 11: 19 to 20 July 2019

The descent from Alpe della Colma included walks on terraces built for chestnut trees.

After lunch in Molini, I had a steep climb to the unmanned Rifugio Alpe del Lago. Michel arrived late so we chatted over breakfast.

It was foggy most of the day. Bivacco Alpe Pian Lago was better situated than where I had stayed: water and a stunning view, although all I saw was fog.

Campello Monti is surprisingly pretty. This is my first “Posto tappa”, an old school converted to dormitories for hikers.


GTA – Refugio Colma

Day 9: 18 July 2019

The food is good and Patricia and Olindo welcoming.

Today I stay here.

A short walk to a hill top to admire Monta Rosa, but she hides under cloud.

We were 10 for dinner. One person plays guitar, so we had a singalong. Olindo is a music teacher so he kept adding instruments. His harmonica playing on Dylan was superb.


GTA – Bivacco Marigonda to Refugio Colma

Day 8: 17 July 2019

Luxury: there was some coffee in the bivouac. So Lucas and I chatted and shared a light breakfast. Which made for a late start.

I arrived at the end-point, Refugio Cheggio, too early to stay. Reading the guide book, the next refuge was described as having good food.

So I stuck out my thumb and got a lift down the valley road to the foot of the 1,000 m climb.

I arrived just in time for dinner and received a warm welcome.

The setting is great.