Sunday, 14 August 2016

1st August - Around Compatsch, South Tyrol, Italy.

The rain from yesterday seemed to have cleared this morning, when we woke up there were clear views of the surrounding peaks, albeit with overcast skies.  However as we left the breakfast room we could see that it had started to rain, only drizzle but it was quite wet.  Looking out from the balcony I could see blue sky over the valley, so I decided to try and get a better view to gauge what the weather was going to do.  Looking out across the valley there was some optimism things could get better.


We decided that whatever happens we were going to go out, I couldn't face another day trapped inside.  Rather Than use the suggested walks from Inntravel we decided to take the chance to walk some of the route we missed yesterday, this involved walking back to the cable car station, and then carrying on up the hill taking the way marked path 14 headed towards Anirka Hutte

Dressed suitably for the cool damp conditions we headed outside to join all the other would-be hikers, sheltering from the rain.  The village is swelled each morning by people arriving by car to use this as a base for a walk, and today it seemed as if everyone had descended on us.  The date was probably significant in this, the 1st August, the start of the Italian holiday season.

We set off towards the cable car station when the drizzle seemed to ease, but our walk up hill was interrupted again by the rain when it turned heavier and we had to shelter for awhile before continuing up a tarmac road.  The path then turned left onto a grass track that ran alongside a set of pine trees.  Here there was a family of Coal Tits and some came very close but of course the camera was covered up due to the rain and I missed the chance.

A little further on we stopped to look at some flowering thyme by the side of the path.  If you have ever wondered where butterflies go in the rain well here is the answer.  They shelter under the flowers and leaves.  I spotted this Black-veined White under the flower of a thistle.

The path then came out of the trees, and at the same time the rain eased and we paused at a bench where there were some wonderful views across to the Sciliar Mountain, and the deep valley below.

The path continued a steep climb through meadows and then pine plantations.  By now the rain had stopped and we had shed the wet weather gear.  The flowers held the attention with some interesting new specimens.  We found plenty of this plant, it would grow in large numbers amongst the grass, and were not sure whether this was the flower head, or whether it had gone beyond flowering, and like a dandelion was now the seed head.  I have now been informed that it is the seed head of Pulsatilla Alpina a lovely yellow anemone, known also as Alpine Pasqueflower, or Alpine Anemone.

Another common flower here was this one, Euphrasia picta.  All I can find is the Latin name, there seems not to be a record of a common name.  It is a member of the Pea family.  Not being that big you have to look closely to appreciate the delicate markings on the petals.

Another widespread flower in amongst the grass was the Lilac Pink

In places they would turn the grass pink.

Another problem flower was this one.  We were not sure if it is an orchid, the leaves were right but I can't find any record of the flower to say yes or no.  I think now this is a type of Bistort.

Further on the path follows the ridge of the plateau, and here it is just above the tree line at just over 2200 metres.  The meadows here had just been cut, but in places there were still clumps of wild flowers and grasses, and low lying conifer bushes.

There were some wonderful views down into the valley of the places we had recently stayed or walked through.  

Looking down on Kastelruth we could make out the hotel we had left the previous day, it is the red and green building close to the church.  Looking even closer you can even see the room.  

To the left of Kastelruth we could see the church of St Valentin that we had passed by three days ago and rested in the shade of the trees on our way to Kastelruth.

The town of Seis was also just visible away further to the left but we could not make out the cable car station.  Away to the right was another location we had passed on our recent walk, the church of St Michael.  Two days ago we had hoped to stop in the cafe for a drink, but it was closed.  Today we could see that the cafe was open!

More different flowers caught our attention, this low succulent alpine is a Cobweb House Leek.

There were also several specimens of fungi.  This type of ink cap having a lovely sheen and pattern on the cap.

The path then came away from the ridge and wound down hill, finally arriving at the Arnika Hutte where we stopped to have a drink, clearly a very popular Hutte, as while we were there the visitors increased at the same rate as the volume, beer drinking starting early here.

The path now became quite narrow and winding, going uphill for a portion, then undulating through conifer scrub.  It was very busy, and required several stops to allow people past, coming up behind and at us.  We had not encountered so many people before on the holiday, and it was quite a shock.  This did mean though taht as we waited to let people pass we could look for butterflies as the sun had now come out.  This was another first for me, a Large Grizzled Skipper.

It spent its time moving between these pink flowers and the Thyme.

Today it was all about the views and from the plateau looking down they were impressive both down into the valley and across to the mountains where the clouds were slowly lifting.

The route took us to a set of rocks known as the Hexenbruhne, or Witch's Bench, so called because in local folk law the witches sat there before descending down to the villages below.  The area was packed with people sitting on the rocks, so we continued our walk and passed them by

The views now we're of the Val Gardena, and the town of St Uhlrich, we could also make out the Pannider Sattel Gasthof where we had lunch 2 days ago.

The views of the surrounding mountains were very impressive, it was just a shame the peaks were not fully visible.

We turned back into the plateau heading in the direction of Compatsch.  The path meandered through the meadows, and again there were some interesting flowers like this Field Genitian.

I was extremely pleased to find this next flower, a lovely Black Vanilla Orchid

There is the constant sound of cow bells around the valleys, last year the sound of Yellowstone Park in the US was the grumble of Harley Davidson motorcycles everywhere, here it was the sound of cow bells, I just wish they could try and all get in tune..  The cows are very distinct, and make for good "chocolate box " photographs.

The meadows were once again full of the Lilac Pinks.

Looking across the plateau to the other side, and the Rosszahne range we were able to see part of the route I was planning to take tomorrow. 

If you look carefully you can see the zig zag path that leads to the top of the pass.  Could be interesting!

More views away to the left of the Langkofel.

The path now wound down hill with again some impressive views of the Sciliar Mountain, and the cloud that would rise up between the valley sides.

Along the side of the path more flowers this time an alpine form of Yellow Rattle.

We stopped at the Diable Hutte for lunch, sitting on the terrace where there were some lovely views again of the mountain, the villages below, and the cable car we rode up in yesterday during the rain and mist.  The journey is just under 4.5 kilometres and rises around 900 metres.  We could see that today yesterday it was just a white out.

As we had lunch two Ravens flew over us heading east.

Cruising past us with the mountains behind.

Being almost at the same altitude this side of the valley from the Sciliar Mountain, it gave the opportunity to see the familiar jagged peaks from a different perspective.

While eating and drinking Coal Tits, Chaffinches and a few Redpolls could be seen in the Pine trees, again almost at eye level.

Leaving the Hutte we headed back down the path we had walked up in the rain.  In the top of the pines alongside the path a Nutcracker showed very well before disappearing way down the valley.

Back In Compatsch we dropped all our equipment and went out side to sit on the terrace in some now quite warm sunshine.  It was good to be able to walk again, and the shortish walk we had today will hold us in good shape for the walk tomorrow.  

As evening approached the cloud started to return shrouding the peaks around us once again, and forcing us inside to get ready for dinner.

Later we were able to sit outside to enjoy a drink before dinner, the clouds having once again moved away to leave a warm light on the peaks of the Rosszahne range from the setting sun.  Lets hope the weather is as good tomorrow as we start the climb to what will be the highest walk we have undertaken so far.

But for now it was about dinner and the rest of the evening.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful description and pictures!
    That seed head is of the Pulsatilla Alpina, a lovely yellow anemone.
    The pink orchid-like flower I am not sure of. Could be the Polygonum bistorta.
    I love reading your posts.
    Regards from the Netherlands,


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