We reached the final day of our trek. It would be a short one starting with some climbing, but mostly consisting of a very long downhill. We would lose 4700 feet of altitude today.
The building in the center of the photo below is the dining area. The two buildings on either side are dormitories. We were in the one on the right. The one on the left is actually a pair of buildings, but the second is hidden behind the first.
I was up at 6 AM. Carman was also up photographing the sunrise.
The rifugio is located near a deep valley, Val dei Ross. Looking from the edge of the cliff back at the rifugio provided the view below. You can see the cable car used to bring supplies up the mountain.
Shortly before 7 AM the clouds turned red for a few minutes.
By 7:30 the sun was up but the valley was filled with low clouds.
Young was all ready to go and used this opportunity to photograph a small dog.
Jim was a little slow getting going this morning. We waited for him a bit but then realized he would quickly catch up with us.
Stephen, Young, and I started down from the rifugio at 7:45 AM. Our goal was to catch the 1:00 PM bus to Belluno. But Stephen‘s knee was painful heading downhill so the day was going to be a struggle for him.
After a bit of a downhill we crossed a mostly dried up stream and then headed uphill toward the forcella.
Forcella La Varetta is a beautiful, wide, grassy area. There were some old farm buildings in the distance.
Just beyond the forcella, the Schiara came into view.
As the path curved around the hillside, we could begin to see a deep valley between us and the Schiara. This is Val Vescova that we would hike down the remainder of the morning.
Jim had caught up with me at the forcella. Stephen and Young were somewhat behind. Jim and I walked together for quite a while. In the photo below you can see Jim ahead of me with the valley dropping off steeply to the right. Above the Schiara near the center of the image you might be able to spot a Sun Dog, my third in the last three days.
Here is a closer view of the Sun Dog.
Below I have zoomed into the Sun Dog and underexposed a bit so that its colors can be better revealed against the dark sky.
Jim is much faster than me going uphill, but I am faster going downhill, so along this downhill path he asked me to go ahead.
Below is a 180° plus panorama showing Jim coming down the path at the far right. The path we are heading toward is on the left side of the image. In the center is Val Vescova and above it the Schiara.
According to the route card, the wildflowers in this area are very nice. However, this was pretty late in the season so most of the foreground consisted of grasses.
Somewhere along here Jim decided to stop for a mid-morning snack. He told me to go ahead, so I did.
I came across a dried up river bad that must have some fairly spectacular falls in the wet season.
Soon I reached Rifugio Blanchet.
I didn’t want to miss the bus so I didn’t stop. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get down from here, but I knew I still had a long way to go.
Beyond the rifugio was a broad track pretty much all downhill for 6 km. There was still almost 3000 feet of elevation loss ahead.
The track was quite nice in parts where it was covered with leaves and surrounded by trees close in on both sides. Other parts of the track were basically a gravel road with lots of zigs and zags. Some of this road was fairly easy walking while some of it was composed of rocks just the wrong size for easy walking.
Below is a pair of 8-photo panoramas, one horizontal and one vertical, looking down Val Vescova.
I saw Martin ahead. He had stopped by the side of the trail to rest a bit. We walked the rest of the way to the bus stop together.
A half kilometer before the road, there was a path to the left which dropped steeply downhill. This was a shortcut to the road and bus stop. A short distance above the road, the path crossed a bridge with a deep gorge on both sides. You can see both sides of the gorge in the photos below.
We reached the road and turned right to walk about 300 meters to the bus stop which was near an abandoned building. Cars were speeding by along this busy road. We had arrived almost an hour before the bus was due, so we had time to relax, take some photographs, and reminisce about the great trek we had just completed.
Below are two photos Martin took of me with my iPhone.
You can see an interesting field of flowers behind me. I figured these must be a relative of our touch-me-not (jewel weed), Impatiens capensis, based on their shape and the characteristics of their leaves. But we don’t have these colors. I was sure they were in the Impatiens family, so when I got home I looked them up. They are “Impatiens glandulifera, or Himalayan balsam, a problematic invasive which has spread throughout Europe.”
Jim arrived at the bus stop about 30 minutes after we did.
While waiting for the bus I got a photo of a beautiful butterfly.
As the bus pulled up Martin snapped a photo of the bus and me with his phone.
We bought tickets on the bus. I handed the driver 5 Euros trusting he would give me the correct change. As the bus pulled away, we saw Stephen and Young coming down the road toward the bus waving madly. However, this was not a road the bus could stop on even if the driver was so inclined. So Stephen and Young missed the bus by about five minutes and had a two hour wait for the next one to Belluno.