We caught the early bus to Tre Cime today, knowing the place would be busy… a bit like Snowdon on a bank holiday! We didn’t manage to beat the crowds though. The bus ended stuck up in a queue of traffic when we got to Misurini, some way before the toll booth. We think the bus driver may have complained because, eventually, a car came through on the wrong side of the road and the buses pulled out behind it, passing the queuing cars and through the toll. Yippee!
The car park by Refugio Auronzo at the top of the pass (2320 metres) was packed and there were people everywhere, heading off on the tourist route around the huge massif of Tre Cime, three peaks towering 700 metres above us (the highest is 2999 metres high). We headed off in the opposite direction, thinking we were on our planned route, but ended up taking a more difficult path to get up close and personal with the peaks, rather than being on the main path. This was good because we got away from the crowds, but not so good when we had to head down the other side! We hiked to over 2500 metres. There were some interesting remains of the World War 1 front on the top. Imagine fighting up that high, on such difficult terrain, in the middle of winter!
To descend again, we had to climb down a scary section about 5 metres long… and we aren’t climbers… and then hike down a very long, steep section of scree. I hate scree… I really don’t like the earth moving under my feet… but, after a while, got the hang of letting the scree run a bit after each step until the foot hold got firm.
We also tried going up to another gap in the rocks between the peaks, but it got very steep, and the rocks were very crumbly. Therefore, having scared myself, and shouted at John for being more interested in some grouse screeching nearby than my safety 😆, we retreated to firmer ground. We were amazed to see that the imposing face of the biggest Tre Cime peak was dotted with climbers, hundreds of metres above us on the sheer rock face.
Back on decent paths, we headed downhill and soon reached Forcella Col di Mezzo (2315 metres). Now on the tourist track, we did our best to dodge the tour parties and headed to a small refuge (2283 metres) where we stopped for an apple juice. It was so hot, that we needed all the fluid we could get! Data from John’s watch says the average temperature during the hike was 31 degrees, and John noticed it reached 39 later in the day… far too hot for this English rose!
We then crossed an undulating basin called Pian da Rin, before heading uphill to Refugio Locatelli (2405 metres). It was hard work climbing in the heat but we made good progress. I was very glad to get to the top, where we stopped to finish our food on a limestone pavement, just below the refuge, which was so busy it looked very uninviting!
We had considered climbing the peak behind the refuge, Sasso di Sesto, which has a line of man-made rock windows in it, left over from the fighting in the First World War; however, it was so hot, and so busy, that we decided against it. We’ll just have to visit the area again at a quieter time of year… bring on retirement!
Rather than going back down to Refugio Auronzo on the tourist track, we decided to head down in the opposite direction to Landro, which we’d passed on our bike ride, and which is on the bus route on our way back to the campsite. This would be a longer, 2-hour walk, but much quieter and, hopefully, more pleasant.
It worked out well, although I was really over heating by now. Thankfully, we had packed extra water today, and I was pleased when the dry river basin, gradually had some water in it as we descended until, finally, after about an hour, there was enough to paddle in. It’s lovely how a paddle in freezing cold water cools your whole body so well!
After the paddle, my hands and feet were less swollen, but it didn’t take long until I was hot and grumpy again. The last hour of the hike was a trial and John and I were both glad to arrive back at Landro. We were lucky because a bus arrived after only a few minutes and, unlike yesterday, there was room for us!
Back at the campsite, we cooled off with ice cream, cold drinks and cool showers. Then it was time for pizza and Aperol spritz, which have never enjoyed more! And yes, I did feel as knackered as I looked! All in all, another great adventure. I’m glad of a rest today though. 😊