Friday, 23 August 2013

Maritime Alps - Entracque to Rifugio Questa

Friday 23 August
We left the campsite in Entracque at 7.30 am and walked down to the village buying bread on the way.

Once we reached the main road to Valdieri I put my thumb out to hitch a lift. Before long we caught a ride with someone on her way to work in Cuneo. She dropped us off at the junction where we hitched another lift to Term di Valdieri. this time it was a gentleman on his way to spend a few days at the spar hotel in Term di Valdieri that is famous for its healing waters. These two kind people saved us a long walk on Tarmac roads.
Piano del Valasco
The spa in Term di Valdieri was a favourite spot for Savoy's reigning king, Victor Emanuel II who spent time in the area hunting during the 1850's declaring it a royal hunting reserve.
Rifugio Valasco
Friday 23 AugusWe filled up our bottles with water  and took to the trail that heads up the valley on a footpath that avoids the wider gravel track used by vehicles to access the head of the valley. Much of the route up to Rifugio Valasco is in trees providing welcome shade. Eventually the path climbs over a lip in the valley floor where we entered a flat alluvial plain called Piano del Valassco. Up to this point the valley had been V shaped with the river tumbling over cascades in a deep water-cut gorge. Conversely on the Piano the river slowly meandered across the perfect meadow, with cattle grazing. This would make an ideal place to pitch the tent.
Looking down the valley towards Rifugio Valasco
 Rifugio Valasco  had been recently renovated and up-graded with rooms off the central courtyard. It was once a grand hunting lodge built for the king and later used as military barracks during the First and Second World Wars, but it fell into ruins after a major fire in 1993. Renovation began in 2002, eventually bring it back to the magnificent building that we see today. Pity we are not staying.
Our route criss-crossing the iron stained scree
and passing through a tunnel
Lago Valscura
The track continues up to a wooden bridge  above a waterfall then on to a second bridge after the junction of paths where we turned SW following the route to Rifugio Questa. The track starts to climb more steeply and at 1996m we took the right fork at the junction heading north towards Lago Valscura. The route takes a long and gentle ascent cris-crossing the iron stained boulder scree and water cascades to a tunnel through the rock and the final section climbs more steeply to the lake. The grassy areas around the lake would make ideal camping spots. The track leading up from the lake towards the refuge was beautifully constructed from the local stone and had been built by the facist government between WW 1 and 2. It passes the beautiful Lago del Claus (2344m) with its rock islands and steep cirque as a back wall. From this lake it too a out 20 minutes walking to Rifugio Questa. 
The shower and toilet have an open and uninterrupted view  down the valley! Water is solar heated which just takes the chill of it. For our evening meal we had soup, followed by fried potatoes and polenta with sausages and creme caramel for desert. We were hungry and ready to eat by meal time after our first full day walking.

Ascent 1082m

Stone built roads

Lago del Claus


Unknown said...

Looks like lovely summer weather.

Unknown said...

Most of the rain fell in the evenings and during the night. It was good during the day but generally cool and some time cold. The guide books warn of very hot weather in the southern end of the GR52, we didn't experience it!