Saturday, July 5, 2008
This morning we woke up in Valtellina after arriving late last night from Milan with no real plans in mind. When we checked the weather, the forecast called for a good chance of thunderstorms tomorrow so we decided we had to go out in the mountains today. We had a rather late start but we made it to the trailhead by noon with sandwiches in our backpacks. It was beautiful and sunny out and we were headed to the Longonio Rifugio in Valmalenco.
The first 30 minutes were just hellish. I think it was a combination of the jetlag, being out-of-shape and the relentless uphill. Ok, the remaining 1.5 hours were still hell. My legs felt like lead and each step took effort.
Luckily I had some cows to say hello to, as a diversion. These cows were grazing in a valley surrounded by beautiful scenery. I would say these were definitely Italy's version of 'happy cows'.
We were headed up, up and up. (Ok, supposedly it was only 800 meter/2600 feet in elevation gain and I shouldn't have been complaining).
Then we finally arrived at our intended lunch spot. A meadow with several waterfall cascades. There were wildflowers all along the hike but this meadow was a blanket of little yellow and blue flowers.
And in front of us was this view.
Our paninos never tasted this good.
Here I am enjoying the scenery and sunshine, and just feeling good.
Then we headed up a little more towards the refugio. A rifugio is basically a small mountaintop lodge that serves meals and provides a place to sleep for hikers. The Italian Alps are dotted with these so that you can easily plan trips of a few days or longer by sleeping at different rifugios along the way. The size and services offered vary; some offer private rooms while others just have dormitory style beds.
We stopped at the rifugio for something to drink on the outdoor patio and met some other hikers that were staying the night. They were headed out to another refugio the next day, about 10 hours hike away.
We really enjoyed the hike and all the uphill effort was forgotten. ;-)