Hiking to see Forni Glacier

Hiking?  Isn’t this a bike trip?  Why would we ever go hiking?

Turns out it’s an off day.  After climbing the Mortirolo and Gavia, our legs are tired.  Ajax suggested a hike and everybody bought in.  Ajax’s company, Alta Quota Adventures, leads multi-sports trips (hiking, skiing, road biking, and mountain biking) in Northern Italy, so he’s very familiar with the hiking options around here.

Ajax suggested we hike up to see the Forni glacier.  We all jumped in the van and started driving east from Bormio.  We went to Santa Caterina Valfurva where Passo Gavia heads south up the switchbacks.  Instead of driving up the Gavia, we headed northeast up a jeep trail.  It is paved, but it is steep, narrow, windy, steep, and narrow.  Wow!  At first I thought I would like to ride this one day on my bike, but the grade was so fierce I’m not sure I’d enjoy it.  Soon we got to a dirt parking lot and the start of our hike.

Here’s our crew hiking up the trail.

Soon we get a view of the glacier in the background with a small stream in the foreground.

This is not the main stream.  When we reach the main stream, water thunders down from the glacier, making a deafening sound.  We would not be able to cross the river were it not for this sturdy bridge.

The trail heads towards Rifugio Branca.  Here are the girls — Jessica, Carla, and Lisa — posing with the Rifugio in the background.

We get very close to the Rifugio and have to cross another river.  This time there is a metal bridge across the river on a steep cliff.  Again, the girls pose.

We’ve reached the Rifugio.  Many groups of hikers are gathered outside.

We step inside for a quick lunch.  My favorite local delicacy, Pizzoccheri, is on the menu.  Because I love Pizzoccheri so much, I’ve been trying it at several restaurants on this trip so far.  This one is undoubtedly the best.

What’s different?  Pizzoccheri has many variations.  The base recipe is buckwheat noodles, cheese, potatoes, garlic, sage, cabbage, and butter.  This one has three differences from the normal case:

  1. the pasta is al dente — clearly it is dried pasta, made from semolina, not rolled out as I made at home — wow, nice!  I’ll have to buy another kitchen toy to make this.
  2. the sage is fried to bring out the flavor
  3. chard replaces the cabbage — I disagree with this substitution, but it’s still good.  In fact most of the pizzoccheri I’ve had on this trip uses chard.  Maybe it is a seasonal choice.

That was a delicious lunch!

Now, back outside, we can see a terrific view of the glacier.

Here’s Ajax enjoying the view.

Here’s a view of the observation post and a deck that people are sunning themselves on.

We head down the hill.  Here are Lisa, Jessica, and Ernesto posing on the trail with the glacier in the background.

This section of the trail is very steep, with several switchbacks.  Having hiking poles along was helpful for many of us.  Another alternative would be to slide down on our butts.  Too bad we didn’t bring sheets of cardboad!  🙂

Here are Rudy and Ajax posing with the valley below.

Rudy finds a whole in the rock and turns it into a nice place for some playful shots.

All in all it was  great hike and a nice rest day.  Tomorrow the bike beckons again.  The ride planned is a really super loop around 3 or 4 passes (Bernina, Forcola d’Livigno, Passo d’Eire, Passo Foscagno) that has two really sweet Glacier views.  Tune in soon for that blog.

About bikealps

avid cyclist and photographer
This entry was posted in bicycle touring, Dolomites, food, Italy, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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