AV1 day 6: Rifugio Pian de Fontana onwards

Today was the last day of our trek. I was partly sorry for it to end because it has been fantastic, but also partly glad because I’m tired and ready to relax. I’m glad I don’t have to pick up my heavy rucksack for a while!

It was another wonderful hike… more beautiful and interesting than I expected given the long 1300 metre descent back to the bus stop on the main road. From the refuge (1632 metres) we dropped downhill through lovely woods to a dry rocky stream bed, before heading back uphill out of the valley to Forcella la Varetta (1701 metres).

The path then followed an old herders’ trail, a narrow and beautiful path cutting around the mountainside. It was easy underfoot, and undulated gently… lovely, enjoyable walking for our last day. And the weather was perfect too… hot by the end of the hike, but we were shaded by the mountain or by trees for most of it.

After a while, the path began to drop more steeply, but it was still easy walking, with leaf litter soft under our tired feet. Eventually, we reached Rifugio Bianchet (1245 metres), a pretty hut in a lovely clearing in the woods.

After a break for refreshments, we followed a gravel track downhill, sometimes cutting off the hairpin bends by taking shortcuts on rocky paths through the trees. The helpful waitress at the refuge said it should take us less than 2 hours to get the bus stop and we were pleased to think we’d be on an earlier bus than we’d expected.

The cliffs towered either side of the valley as we hiked through the woods, making good progress and enjoying ourselves. We dared to think we might make the 11.20 bus as we took the turn off for the bus stop. However, the path got much rougher, and was covered in rocks and tree roots that slowed our progress. We just made it to the road (448 metres) for 11.10 but the bus flew past us because the bus stop was further down the road than we’d realised, and the bus was scheduled for 10 past not 20 past the hour. How disappointing!

I texted Renato to tell him we’d be on the 12.20 bus to collect Bertie and he very kindly came to collect us. Back at his house, we chucked our kit in the back, removed our boots, said thank you and goodbye to Renato and Tiziana and set off for Austria. As we’d finished the trek earlier than expected, we decided to try and get as far as we could. After disappointment when the first stellplatz we tried didn’t actually allow overnight camping, we found a place at Flacau. It was perfect after a very long day, and even had a restaurant for us to get something to eat. St Wolfgang tomorrow and the next stage of our trip.

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