|Page Type:||Trip Report|
|Lat/Lon:||46.20294°N / 10.57094°E|
|Date Climbed/Hiked:||Sep 3, 2019|
We were staying for two weeks in Madonna di Campiglio and had been exploring the Brenta Dolomite mountains as well as occasionally crossing the valley to the predominantly granite formed, Presanella mountains.
However, we were aware that there was a bus that left Madonna di Campiglio in the morning and travelled southwards and into the nearby Genova valley. The end of the bus journey would leave us near a place called Malga Bedole, with the Presanella mountains to the north and the Adamello mountains to the south and west. We wanted to visit the Genova valley but had been told that seats on the bus were popular and we needed to book in advance.
The weather had been generally pretty good but a storm had arrived and on this particular day, it had been raining since we awoke. At about 3.30 pm, the rain stopped. We checked the forecast and the next 2 days were shown as full sun all day, so we walked down to the Tourist information centre as the skies started to clear.
“The bus leaves at 9.10 am so you have to be at the stop by then or it will go without you. Coming back, you have to get the bus at 4.30 pm from where you are dropped or again, it will go without you.” The lady in the Tourist information centre studied our faces to check that we had understood. We both nodded and she handed us our booking confirmation.
“Sounds like it’s going to be a bit of a military operation.” I said to Marie as we left the office.
“Yes and we’d better not miss the bus back at 4.30. Lord knows how much a taxi would cost us.” Marie replied.
The sun was fully out now and we had to take off our coats as we walked back to our hotel. By the time we returned to our room is was hot enough to sit on the balcony, all evidence of the earlier rain had gone.
Next day, we were there bright and early to get our seats on the bus. It was only half full and most of the other occupants were a group of Irish walkers with a guide but by the time we had stopped at Carisolo and picked up more people, it was full.
Having looked at the map, I had it in my mind that the Val Genova would be wide with grassy alps and great views of the surrounding mountains. This was completely wrong! The road wends its way up the steep sided valley with a few mountain views which quickly pass. Our attention was more often drawn to the views of the Sarca river and the waterfalls that empty into it.
The journey lasted about 1 hour 15 mins until we were deposited at the bus stop just before Malga Bedole in glorious sunshine.
“I’m glad that’s over.” Marie said as we walked away from the bus. “My stomach was getting queasy.”
At this point, the valley does open out into wide alpine pastures just like I had imagined. We looked at an information board showing a photograph of the area taken in 1890. The view was essentially the same, the mountains were still there but the children and the glaciers viewed from this point in the old photo had vanished long ago.
We followed the Irish group with their guide up towards the Rifugio Bedole where the terrain steepens. On the way, we all stopped to admire the Haflinger ponies and take their photos. I had a route description from the internet from the valley up to the Rifugio Citta di Trento al Mandron (as my map calls it) and I assumed everyone would be on the same route as it looked the best thing to do from Malga Bedole.
However, the Irish group crossed the river Sarca on the Sentiero delle Cascate and headed out of view, everyone else had gone in different directions.
At the Rifugio Bedole we checked the signpost, “Rifugio Mandron – 2:30 hrs”.
“What time is it?” Marie asked.
“10.45.” I replied. Adding up the time in my head. “So, we should be there by 1.15.”
“If we do it in that time.” Marie added. “Coming back, it must be at least 2 hours back down.”
I checked my route description, it said “Round trip time – 5:30 hrs.”
The bus was leaving at 4.30.
“We might be cutting it a bit fine!” I said optimistically.
From the Rifugio Bedole, the footpath disappears into the pine forested hillside and immediately starts going up steeply. We set off as fast as we could, aware that we had a long way to go and a height gain from 1641m up to 2449m.
It was cool in the shade and we made reasonable progress on the zig-zag path although, I stopped frequently to photograph the views.
Looking down onto the Malga Bedole area, we watched the people and ponies gradually getting smaller with each bend in our path. The views across the valley towards the Lobbia Bassa, Lobbia di Mezzo and Crozzon di Folgarida were becoming more spectacular all the time as the trees started to thin out as we gained height.
After about an hour, we crossed a tumbling stream at on old footbridge made of tree logs, then started up even more steeply on the path at the side of some rock slabs with water cascading down them. The path gradually found its way back towards the stream and we crossed it higher up on stepping stones.
Time ticked on and I felt we started to slow down.
“I’m feeling really tired today.” Marie said
I was feeling it too but it is just one of those routes where you had to keep plodding on, we were making height, just a bit slowly.
The map shows that the stream is crossed for the second time at a height of 2122m.
“We’ve done most of the height gain.” I said to encourage us but looking on the map it still looked a long way to go.
Originally, I had hoped to visit the “Centro Studi Glaciologico” (the Centre for Glaciological studies) which I knew was in the building that was the original Rifugio. Somewhere in my memory, I thought I had read we would reach it about 30 mins before the Rifugio Mandron (this is incorrect) but it bothered me.
Also, I wanted to visit any World War 1 sites that I saw along the way and I even thought we could head from the Rifugio on the path towards the Mandron glacier. Now it seemed just getting to the Rifugio Mandron would be an achievement.
The path started to level out a bit and the view opened up. The path had a much rockier aspect now as parts of it were almost paved with slabs of rock. The peaks across the valley looked magnificent in the sunshine and we got a better view of the thundering waterfalls cascading down their rocky slopes. At the top of the falls, we were just able to see the white headwalls of the Mandron and Lobbia glaciers – clearly the suppliers of all that water.
I looked ahead of us at the rocky landscape but there was no sign of any Rifugio. Then, I looked again and suddenly it was there! Not too far away, I could see the roof of a building.
“I think that must be the glacier centre.” I said to Marie.
“How far after that is the Rifugio Mandron?” She asked.
“About 30 mins, I think.” I replied.
“I think I’m going to stop at the glacier centre for some food, then turn back.” Marie decided.
“OK, let’s go up there and we’ll see.”
We continued upwards. Now that we had an objective we could see; I think we both felt more relaxed and soon we were there.
I was going to go into the centre but a nearby chapel caught my eye.
“Let’s go and look at that.” Marie said.
We walked over to it and saw, about 10 mins further on, the Rifugio Mandron!
Marie looked at the chapel. It had a painting of Pope John Paul II standing in front of some mountains, just inside the door.
I later found out that he visited this area during the 1980s - once with President Sandro Pertini – and skied on the Adamello glacier. A mountain was named Cima Giovanni Paolo II in his honour.
We continued to the Rifugio and arrived at 1.25pm – 2:40 hours after leaving the Rifugio Bedole.
It was hot in the sun but now that we paused at the Rifugio, we realised that the breeze blowing from the Mandron glacier was quite cool. Also, we were both hungry - we had bought some food with us but wanted more!
Consequently, I ordered 2 Speck and cheese ciabattas and 2 Coke Colas. We sat on the verandah of the Rifugio in the sun and ate our lunches. This was a really good decision!
It was a lovely place to eat and after finishing my food, I went to explore the area.
“Come on, we should be going down.” Marie called me away from my photo taking.
The Rifugio is in a spectacular position looking towards the Adamello mountains and glaciers and in the sunshine of that afternoon it possessed a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere.
“It would be good to come back and stay here some time.” I said as a reply.
We started off on our return trip at about 2.00pm.
The signpost at the Rifugio said “Malga Bedole – 2:00 hrs”.
“We should make it in plenty of time”. I said.
Returning towards the chapel, I noticed a small graveyard set on the hillside below the footpath. As we had “plenty of time” I decided to go and have a look.
“I’ll keep going,” Marie said. “Catch me up.”
I descended to the gravestones. Clearly, this originated from World War 1. Rolls of barbed wire and rusting metal rods decorated the site and a large cross, also made from metal, stood above the gravestones as a marker to draw our attention.
I read the inscriptions and stared out to the distant Lobbia and Mandron glaciers. I had read that the glaciers in this area had lost approximately 2 Kms of ice in the last 100 years or so. According to the inscriptions, the men had been killed in August 1916, I tried to imagine what the men who were buried here would have seen when they were alive. The glaciers would have been a lot larger then and a savage war would have been taking place in front of them with all the associated weaponry. It was hard to imagine it, standing in the quiet of an afternoon’s sunshine.
I started back up to the path, time was moving on. A family group of about 6-7 people were leaving the Rifugio Mandron and were not far behind me. I could see Marie ahead, moving slowly and picking her way along the rocky path. I started to catch her up and as I came around a bend, she was standing beside a signpost looking at her watch.
“We’re going to miss the bus!”
Sure enough, the signpost said “Malga Bedole – 2:00 Hrs” – but now it was 2.40pm.
“That can’t be right!” I said to the signpost.
“Come on, we need to stay ahead of that family on the narrow path” Marie called as she went.
We started jogging downwards as fast as we could go. The family seemed to be in a hurry too, so all of us were going full tilt.
I don’t like trying to move this fast, I feel out of control. 2 years ago, I sprained my ankle running down a path in the Fassa valley. This meant several days of forced rest in lovely weather – not to mention the pain!
However, I didn’t want to miss the bus!
We continued downwards. We didn’t stop for a drink I just tried to concentrate on my feet with the occasional glance at the Malga Bedole below…which always looked a long way away.
Next signpost, we were still behind time. We tried to increase our speed.
Next signpost, we might just about make it, we kept going.
Time passed and we returned to the wooden bridge. We stopped and had a drink.
Then we were off again.
We seemed to be a lot lower but kept up the pace.
Suddenly, the Rifugio Bedole appeared before us, it was 4.00pm – plenty of time to get to the bus stop!
I don’t know what happened to the signpost times but we made it with time to spare.
At the bus stop, all sorts of people wanted to get on. Most of them had no tickets and there was no sign of the Irish group!
The downward journey was long and slow! The bus had to reverse to allow a tractor to come up. People got off and others got on – most just wanted a lift back to their cars! Finally, near the bottom of the valley the Irish group got on. It seemed they had walked all the way down the valley on footpaths and road – to my mind, not the best way to spend a day in such a beautiful place!
I hope that one day we can return to explore the area some more – and not in such a rush!