Kreuzbergpass 1636m -> Burgstall 2161m -> Fischleinbodenhütte 1454m -> Moos 1339m
500m up, 800m down
3nd day in the Dolomites. Another great walk around the imposing Sextner Rotwand (2936m).
Lago di Braies (1494m) – Forela Sora Forno (2388m) – Rifugio Biella (2327m) – Grünwaldalm (1590m) – Lago di Braies (1494m)
17km (estimated), 1100m up and down
The Dolomites wich I have long dreamed of!
Today’s plan was to walk the first part of the famous Alta Via 1 (a 120km long-distance hiking route) and take the route 23 & 19 back to the lake. The Alta Via 1 hike is on my wish-list for a while so it will give me some ideas for this route for the future.
At the trailhead we were welcomed by the amazing green color of the lake, Lago di Braies, surrounded by impressive peaks! Being on the Alta Via 1, I was already all smiles : ))
After going around one side of the lake, a very steep climb started. Several people were going up and one Italian was coming up steadily but with lots of efforts. He was doing the Alta Via carrying a 22 kg bag including a tent and all you need for sleeping outdoors! No wonder he was sweating.
We were happy to reach the top at 2300m and had our well-deserved picnic lunch “on the rocks” with a fantastic 360-degree view.
From the Rifugio Biella the flat path started but it did not last long. With small up and downs we walked around the impressive mountain Sas dla Porta / Seekofel at the level of 2300m. And then, inevitable, after the ascent, the decent. It was a path of scree. We had to concentrate not to slip. It is almost like snowshoeing on powder snow. But more tiring….
Happy to finish this exhausting downhill and back to the lake, we replenished our batteries with a cup of tea and a cold beer at the Grand Lakeside Hotel terrace…
Monte Morcia (1181m) to Monte Catria (1701m)
5-6 hours, 20km (estimated), 550m up & down
On the second day in the region of Monte Morcia.
Today we left early so that Philippe gets an early start with flying on his preferred hilltop, Monte Morcia.
After watching him flying his airplane a bit, I headed off to Monte Catria (1701m) , the highest peak in this area. Its peak with the cross can be seen from far.
From Monte Morcia I walked on the white road till the foot of Monte Acuto (1668m). By then several cars with German number plates passed by and I knew that these flyers were going to the same point where Philippe was. This spot is popular particularly among Germans, I was told.
After half an hour or so, it was a relief to be out of the car road and finally find the hiking path. It lead into the beautiful dense forest and I enjoyed the serenity of the place, away from the scorching sun.
From the GPS map I knew that I had to go around to the other side of Monte Acuto before going to Monte Catria. At a couple of points the signposts were not clear or not present at all so I asked some forest workers for directions (almost no other hiker was on the path).
Again I came out of the forest and onto a gravel road. Soon a car passed by but it stopped a couple of meters away and back-warded towards me. From the window the guy extended his arm and held something in his hand. I noticed that it was the regional map of “Monte Catria”! While I stared at it, he gave it to me without a word and drove away before I could say anything.
I was taken back and wanted to ask him, “did you read my mind??”
I kept wishing I would have had a proper map, as I lost my way several times today. Might he be one of the workers whom I saw and asked for directions earlier? I did not recognize him and was therefore a bit perplexed, but overjoyed with a new “compass” in my hands!
So I started walking with a better sense of orientation and confidence. Soon Monte Catria came into sight. The top with the cross looked quite far and its sharp mountain flank looked unfriendly.
The hike took more time than I had planned, as I spent a lot of time trying to find the path. But two women hikers came down and told me that it would take only over one hour so I decided to give it a go. The path was steep and slippery near the top but the view was fantastic! Unfortunately it was terribly windy and cold up there, so I could not stay for long.
I walked back the way I came and I was exhausted when I reached where Philippe was still happily flying his airplane along with lots of German and Swiss enthusiasts ….
Monte Morcia (1181m) -> Pian di Troscia (975m) -> Paravento (451m) -> Castello di Frontone (570m)
Philippe was very excited to get to his preferred modell airplane soaring place, Monte Morcia. Even though I love Philippe very much, staying put all day, watching him and his airplanes, was out of question. So I leave him with his big boy toys and am off to exploring the surrounding mountains on foot.
Monte Morcia and its suroundings are an area not particularly known for hiking. There are marked hiking paths but it requires a bit of research and luck, if you are not familiar with the place. However, I headed off from Monte Morcia (1181m) in good spirit.
First on the ridge walk from Monte Morcia.
I could see Philippe and other airplane flyers far on the ridge.
The slope is pretty with flowers.
Soon the path went into the forest. It was rather difficult to find the right path and I went back and forth till I find one.
After coming to the open area, the path disappears into the blooming flower field! The flowers are high up to my hip but luckily I could see the trace in the field.
After rather steep and difficult gravel path (it turned out to be not a marked hiking path), I arrived at a small village called Paravento.
I was happy to be down at the valley and look back Monte Morcia.
The day was still early when I decided to visit the Castello di Frontone, a hilltop medieval town which I could see earlier from the top of the mountain.
Today’s hike was overall not very successful, as I was not familiar with the region, only had a GPS map, and the Italian signposts tend to be sporadic. I did a lot of going back and forth to find the right path under the scorching sun….
But I still go some sense of the region so the overall experience gets an “OK”.
After going up the winding mountain road up to 1500m, this vast plain, Piano Grande (Great Plain), suddenly opened up in front of us. Breath-taking!
We could well imagine that this plain surrounded by the Sibillini mountain range and Mt. Vettore (2476m) used to be a lake a long, long time ago. Now it is a large pleateau bursting with wild flowers. No wonder many people came up to see this natural spectacle!
We could see a village perched on the rock at the far end which must be Castelluccio. Getting close there, we realized that the village was all rubble destroyed by the three earthquakes in 2016. The village is still in ruins guarded by the army and and an incredibly sad sight which made me almost cry…
A heavenly beautiful place and witness of nature’s uncontrollable forces.
Valfabbrica to Assisi
14km, Ascent 550m / Descent 330m
Starting from the village of Valfabbrica, the signs of Via Roma and Via di Francesco are easy to find and encouraging. It reminds me of the Jakobsweg / Camino de Santiago which I walked two years ago.
I feel excited to walk on another pilgrimage path, even for a short stretch.
Soon I walk into the quiet and dense forest and repeated some ups and downs. Except a young couple with heavy backpacks I overtook at the beginning of the path, I don’t see anyone on the path.
After finally getting out of the forest, I came out on a hill full of yellow flowers and with a sweeping view of the area. Stone-built farmhouses scattered around on the hills.
At last, there was a water point near a church, a perfect place for a short break.
After some uphills and downhills, I came out to the top of another hill (it is a very hilly area!)
A quiet and peaceful countryside looks like one of the impressionist paintings.
Then Assisi’s imposing cathedral and ramparts on the hilltop came into a view. Spectacular! I imagine that almost all walkers before me are moved by this sight.
The final part to Assisi…. I have to go down the small valley before going up to the hill of Assisi : (
Going through the ancient stone gate, I entered finally to Assisi. Impressive!
Then I crossed this amazing town from the west gate to east, looking at fantastic stone buildings, and waited for Philippe in the beautiful main square, Piazza del Commune, which was spotlighted by the evening sun.
We successfully met each other in the square and enjoyed great dinner in Assisi, before driving into our hotel in the dark forest of Mt. Subasio later…..
Several signs of Via di Francesco on the “road” from today:
A solid medieval town Gubbio with a funny bird-cage like funicular and unmotivated tourist office staff…
The town is unique with an interesting festival in which people charge through the narrow cobbled streets carrying a huge wooden candle-like structure “Ceri”. (We watched the video of this festival in the small museum and found it quite intriguing.)