Trails, lakes & Pizza.

Italy August 99


"Where does this way lead to", comes Rudi's question on the CB. "Nowhere, we have to go back", is my answer. "Sorry, that won't work", is his reply. The path had been very narrow in it's original condition. Now Rudi's Montero had sent a good part of the rocks tumbling downhill and we were stuck in this green oneway track. Herbert with his Cherokee was the only one outside the trap. Rudi and Roland had dug out the hole with their Montero. Franz and Werner sat in their Terrano right behind me and I faced a very tricky job to turn round my Cherokee. A nice little gap between some bushes became our way out. Backing down a steep grade. Well, it is our hobby to keep a 4x4 going the way it's meant to go.

We had come across the Brenner and the Mendelpass to Lago Molveno. In the camp I noticed this small trail into the bed of the river Sarca. It proves to be the perfect opening for our tour across Passo Croce Domini and Maniva. Rarely ever visited by any construction team the natural gravel road stayed unchanged and leads us to the Forte Cima Ora. After two switchbacks the road up to the fortification ends  as a narrow ravine. A good opportunity to check your physical ability while you climb up to remains of the WW1- fort. A slight attack of hunger quickly drives us down to our camp in Anfo right beside Lago Idro. The lake is very inviting, so the pizza has to wait until are refreshed. 

Next day the most interesting part of our tour is waiting for us. I have stored the important intersections in my GPS so we are sure to stay on track. Nevertheless it is often astonishing to find out the difference between maps and nature. It starts when we turn north at Lago Valvestino  [N45 44'; E10 36,3' ] and hit a trail, that one map tells to be a drivable road, while the other map only shows a hiking trail. We take our chance and follow the trail into the area of WWI-paths near Monte Caplone. There we have to turn back because some landslides have turned the old trail into a narrow rut only suitable for hikers. A detour takes us to the entrance of  the Valle San Michele  [N45 46,9'; E10 43,7']. On a rough forest trail we climb up to the Refugio Tremalzo [N45 50'; E10 41,2']. It is a kind of shock after several hours on dusty trails to find ourselves among lots of tourists who have come up the north slope on a paved road. All this thoughts vanish when we enter the famous Tremalzo trail.

A narrow tunnel gives way to a first glimpse round a breathtaking panorama. The old military road descends in extremely narrow switchbacks and forces us to back up frequently. The next tunnel leads to a part of the road sneaking along a steep ridge. We have some time to relax and take in the view down the valley. The next switchbacks and some very coarse gravel keep our concentration up. At last we reach the path to Passo Guil and are quite glad to reach smooth asphalt. The camp in Limone offers a refreshing bath and an excellent supper.

The road across Monte Baldo is pure asphalt leading through a wonderful landscape. So we have a nice day until evening, when the "short hike" to the panorama restaurant turns out to be a arduous walk uphill. 

Sitting with a bottle of red wine we make plans for the next day. There have been enough mountains so we decide to have some fun in the gravel of the river Cellina. The riverbed is about 2km wide and there is no trace of water in summer. We are ready to play when we leave the bride near Maniago and rush south through the "desert". There are big stones and patches of soft sand sucking at the tires. Without sufficient speed you can park your rig and start digging. During a short brake late in the afternoon Rudi's PC tells us that it will take 2 more hours to reach the planned campsite. So we set out towards the mountains. We are ready to spend the night at the riverside when we find a sign leading to a campground near Tramonti where we are the only guests.

After a rather refreshing night we cross the mountains to the north, have some fun at the headwaters of the Tagliamento and finally drive home through the Carinthian rain.