Back to civilization
Refuge de l’Onda to Vizzavona (Stage 9)
Distance 11km, 670m elevation gain, 1180m elevation loss.
We got up quite early, our most efficient morning so far (just over an hour to pack up). We zig zagged up the hill to the ridge line, and then it was a steady climb up the ridge for an hour and a half. There were soft puffy clouds all over the sky, and little arch clouds over the mountaintops. The sunrise was a glorious red. Where we able to look back and see the ridge line that we had hiked the previous day, and could make out where we had slept on Day 6, the Refuge de Pietra Piana. Mt Ritondu was hidden under a thick blanket of cloud.
There was a plaque part way up the climb, commemorating a local hiker who had lost his life hiking the route in the winter some years before. A sad reminder of what can happen when playing in the mountains.
We reached the gap, today’s high point, where the wind was incredibly cold. We proceeded downhill, deciding to forgo today’s optional summit due to the worrying cloud cover. We went over some sideways slabs, then began the long trek down the valley.
We stopped on an elevated rock to have some bread and cheese for a snack. The terrain was very varied as we dropped in elevation, sometimes rocky path, sometimes slabs, sometimes soft trail through trees. For the first time in days we were low enough in elevation to really feel hot.
We started encountering more and more day hikers as we climbed down through the trees. We saw a glorious water fall cutting a gorge into a deep pool, and eventually reached a slabby stream with lots of bathing pools in it.
We maneuvered around the day hikers and onto a wide path that would’ve been nice without all the round, ankle-breaking stones all over it.
Once in town (town is a strong word, there were like three places to rent rooms, two restaurants, a food store, plus a train station. We got a room at the hotel and ordered a cheese plate while we waited for the rooms to be ready. We were sitting outside, but got rushed inside at the onset of a thunderstorm (despite it only being about one in the afternoon), validating our decision to forego the summit of Mt Onda. One of the guiding choices for the hotel was that it offered laundry facilities. Good opportunity to make all the clothes smell a bit nicer for the start of the second half.
The rest of the day was spent in cleaning and planning for the second half of our trek. We went out for dinner, and learned again that customs change in different countries. We were ready to eat at 5:30pm, but the kitchen at the restaurant didn’t open until 7:00pm, gulp. Afresh, hot meal was worth the wait. We devoured our meal quickly and were in bed by nine.