The city of Chiavenna is one of my favorite places in the Alps. It´s Italy, close to the Maloia pass, but close to the Swiss border. Hitchhiking is super easy in the Bregaglia valley, and there´s traffic as many people work in Switzerland and live in Italy. The other day I went walking from Soglio to Vicosoprano (CH- Graubünden) following the Sentiero Panoramico, a path along the valley, half way up the mountain. I grabbed my camera and a book and spent a beautiful summer day, chasing butterflies (therefore taking a wrong turn and having to walk back) and crossing waterfalls on tiny wooden bridges. Sometimes spending a day alone in the nature is exactly what you need. Some weeks later we met again in Chiavenna: By now it was full summer. July. Slept on the roof terrace watching stars, and during the day enjoyed ice cream with 34 degrees in the city of Chiavenna. Having breakfast outside, eating hitchhikers porridge we came up with the plan to go for a three day mountain hike. Packed our backpacks, planned how much food to take and hitchhiked up the Splügen Pass to the big Montespluga lake. We were two locals and four guests. The locals knew the area very well and we enjoyed their stories about the rocks, peaks, lakes, flora, fauna where they have been living since many years. The first evening we reached lake Emet, stopped by the cabin to say hello, take a Radler and stroke the cat and then camped directly by the lake. In the golden evening sun we relaxed, read and meditated and some of us even went swimming in the cold water. Later we cooked dinner, spaghetti from Japan. The beauty of the place made up for cold feet in the tent during the night- we were already over 2000m over sea level. There are many marmots, these small animals that whistle when they want to warn their friends, whistling sound all the time, they respond if you´re good at it. I had never seen them before. Mountain peaks turned pink and night fell. My first time sleeping on that altitude. Next morning when the fog dispersed we had breakfast, fitting all on a big round stone, and then started climbing uphill. The landscape is astonishing, so close to the hot city in the valley, but totally different. Countless small lakes and waterfalls, stones with patterns and patches of snow. Occasional flowers and a lost frog. After few hours we arrived at the lago ghiacciato – the frozen lake. There had been a glacier, but due to global warming it´s disappearing. Still there´s snow and ice in the middle of July. We ate lunch. Every portion was measured and divided by six with perfection, we were hungry and food was barely enough. The paths were covered with deep snow, we had to make our way through it. The weather was foggy and fresh. From time to time I was scared and had to take a breath to cross the wet stones and abysses. In the evening an electric storm was menacing, but we made it to the top! Nothing compares to the feeling to reach a mountain peak! In the small shelter – Bivacco Surretta, 2700 m – we devoured all the food we had left, delicious italian polenta, chocolate, pasta.. while outside storm and rain were blowing. For some reason the tiny shelter of very few square meters, contained an empty wine bottle with a picture of the pope. Italy´s still being a catholic country. We slept pretty well even despite the wind making us feel like in a container on a moving ship.
We got up at 7. Washing the dishes in the frozen snow on the tiny mountain peak without getting blown off by the wind was a challenge. I almost started crying at the prospect of having to climb down. How? It was raining, we found ourselves in the middle of a dark cloud. One false step and I´m dead. What was I doing on high alpine terrain without any kind of ropes or safety devices. They announced heavy rains for midday, by then we needed to be down and safe. We started sliding and climbing guided by our friends who knew the mountain like their backyard. Luckily, very soon the blue sky appeared and we slowly found our way. Jumping over rivers, whistling with the marmots. From Montespluga we hitched down. Some of us even bumped into polish hitchhikers by accident there. It was raining, we felt tired, but happy and had red noses burnt by the sun.
All the waterfalls, pizzas, cinnamon and pistacchio ice cream made it very hard to leave, we postponed it a couple of times until finally leaving for Croatia and hitchgathering. Here is a small selection from my many pictures.
and pictures by mr flett here: http://mrflett.tumblr.com/post/92343989725/hiking-in-the-italian-alps