Monday, September 10, 2012

Manganu - Petra Piana

Distance: 10km, altitude at start: 1601m, altitude at end: 1842m, highest point: 2225m.

After yet another cold night I wake up to one of the days that I've been looking forward to the most, the stage between Manganu and Petra Piana. The tent is soaking wet and dirty. Outside a clear sky beckons. Any traces of the horse that ran through the camping area the night before can't be found. Inside the cabin there is a lot of activity; people are milling around to get a seat for breakfast.

Up towards Bocca a le Porte. Mountain peaks are reflected in small waterholes in a little field above Refuge de Manganu.

I start to walk from Manganu relieved by the nice weather, where the path quickly gets steeper. I will now go up to what is the highest point on the main route of the GR20, Bocca a le Porte at 2225 meters. The sun hasn't yet risen up behind the mountains to the east of me, so it's a little bit chilly in the morning.

After walking for a little while I comes up to a little field of grass, here the grass is wet and soft to walk on. A small creek runs through the field, which will be the start of the Ruisseau de Zoicu. The mountains are reflected in small and deep ponds. The sun is lighting up the peaks that stretches towards the sky. I start on the last, and steep, ascent up towards the pass. Up there sunlight is beckoning. High up ice lies next to the path, created after yesterday's hail. Had it been snow, I wouldn't have let the opportunity go to make a snowball that I could throw at someone.

View from Bocca a le Porte.

And what a fantastic experience it is to come up to Bocca a le Porte. As I climb up on top of the ridge of the pass the sun is greeting me and I can feel heat spread over me at once. The view is spectacular. Before me the ridge is stretching further towards a horizon of pointed peaks. The Monte Ritondu massif rises majestically. And best of all, Lac de Capitellu and Lac du Melo. Like two shimmering eyes in the mountain they lie and gaze up towards the eternity. It's beautiful beyond any doubt.

The view takes my breath away and I have to sit down just to enjoy it alone. More hikers are appearing over the edge, and they all seem just as hypnotized as I. Some are taking this opportunity and heat to dry their sleeping bags. A rope is hanging down from Punta a e Porta, but I reject the idea of a climb to that summit. Instead another idea is starting to take hold over me.

Lac du Capitellu and Lac du Melo. Like two jewels in the mountains they lie and shine up towards where you move along the ridge high above.

The trail further along the ridge is yet another rollercoaster ride, with some scrambling thrown into it, some part I have to climb down by the aid of a chain. I can't help to stop several times to enjoy the view of the two magnificent lakes beneath. From where I stand it doesn't appear to be even one ripple on the surface. Behind me lies the pass, with lots of people spread around it.

Bocca a le Porte. The highest point on the main route of the GR20. People admiring the view.

I arrive at Breche de Capitellu (2090m) and the idea has taken complete hold over me. There is no way out, I make my way down towards Lac de Capitellu and Lac du Melo. And by that I'm leaving the GR20, for a while. From Breche de Capitellu there is a marked path down towards both of the waters; the trail then continues further down towards Bergeries de Grotelle at the end of the Restonica valley. From there you can get down to Corte. My idea doesn't extend that far though.

Lac du Capitellu. Down by the water. The mountainside goes straight down into the glassy water.

Down by Lac de Capitellu I look out over the glassy water, at the other side of the lake the mountainside extends straight up from the water. The lake lies at 1930 meters and are 42 meters deep, it can be frozen up to eight months a year. It appears cold now as well.

I continue down to Lac du Melo, which lies 200 meters down from Lac de Capitellu at 1711 meters with a depth of 15.5 meters. I eat lunch by the side of the water. Looking over the water I can follow the mountainside up towards Monte Ritondu. High up in the direction I came down from, the GR20 is going. From where I'm sitting you can only be impressed by the massive landscape that the trail goes through. Down here though, is it a lot more people, mostly tourists on a day visit from Corte.

Lac du Melo.

But since I've walked down, I also have to walk back up again. From Lac du Melo there is a path going up to Bocca a Soglia at 2052m. Up by the ridge and the GR20 I meet familiar faces again. Someone does shake their heads a little bit when they hear that I've gone down to the lakes. It was great to see the two lakes at close hand, but they also loose a little bit of their mythical character when you walk down close to them. However, I do not regret going down.

A mountain takes the opportunity to reflect itself in the clear waters of Lac du Melo.

The clouds have now announced their arrival, the sky gets paler. Further on the trail goes along the mountainside above Lac du Melo; the mountain across the vale is reflected in the water. Going to Bocca Muzzella I pass another nice little lake beneath me, Lac du Renosu. Cows are grazing on small peaks above. At Bocca Muzzela (or Col de la Haut Route as it also is known as) a couple are cooking lunch on their stove, it smells good. Monte d'Oro appears in the horizon.

Lac du Renosu.

Looking down at the Refuge de Petra Piana, I can see that a lot of people already have arrived. Anyway, I find a nice place to pitch my tent for the upcoming cold night, Petra Piana lies at 1842m. The place is positioned on top of a large shelf in the mountainsides below Monte Ritondu, the cabin itself a small and curious building. The facilities here don't differ from other places, in the queue for the shower you can hear other breathe heavily in the cold water.

View in the direction of Monte d'Oro and the ridge where the high-level variant to the Refuge de l'Onda goes.

Before the clouds obscures all sight from me I can look out over the forested valley below, where the GR20 continues to Refuge de l'Onda. It is starting to rain. Inside the gardiens hut there is a weather forecast telling me that I can look forward to four days with thunder. That gets me a little bit frustrated. Later it turns out it's a forecast from the previous week. That gets me a little bit relieved, that and a cold Pietra. The dinner is served on the terrace outside the hut with a cheerful mood around the table. The view is changing with the clouds that are drifting past.

A dark horizon seen from Petra Piana. Clouds descended upon the cabin in the afternoon.

A great day on the GR20 is over when I in the cover of the dark retreats into my one kilo tent. Even with that weight, the tent has an incredible large space inside to be a tent for 1-2 persons. I close my eyes and I can remember the day I first laid eyes on the two lakes, Lac de Capitellu and Lac du Melo

The gardien at Petra Pianas hut, with the terrace outside where the dinner was served.

<- ManganuMonte Ritondu ->

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