Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ronciade snowshoe

While it was raining down here the past few weeks it was snowing in the mountains.  I drove up the hill to Piancavallo this morning to check it out.  Parked at end of plowing above Col Alto (1300 meters) and walked to the trailhead.  You must climb a 5-foot high vertical wall of snow to get up to the trail, but luckily someone made a toe hold in the snowbank to get you half way up.  I donned my snowshoes and got underway but promptly encountered a team of sled dogs and their musher who were training on the trail.  The musher turned them around and headed off in the opposite direction.  The trail has been packed down by the dogs and sled to the point you could probably walk it in hiking boots, quite stable.  After a bit you reach an open snowy meadow where you cross the Passegiata delle Malghe.  The dogs were coming back toward me now so I got off the side of the trail and the musher walked the team holding their harnesses, pulling his sled by hand.  The dogs were beautiful, well-groomed and fluffy. 

After another kilometer or so the sled trail ended and the route was now covered with deep virgin snow.  No human footprints, only rabbit and fox prints.  The snowshoes sank down only mid calf- deep, making walking much easier than sinking to your waist.  The trail skirts around Col Spizzat, ascending a bit but not too steeply.  At 1400 meters I reached an opening in the faggio (beech) forest and the sun briefly lit up Monte Cavallo.  After taking its portrait I turned around and retraced my steps.  The snow meadows were now obscured by dense low flying clouds in a 360 degree white out.  Without following my snowprints I would have had no idea where to go.  

Will come back soon and try some of the many variations- the snow should be here another month at least.

Sign to let you know sled dogs are training and
not to bring any other dogs on the trail
The dog sled trail through the snow

The dogs and their musher in the snowmeadow

The view north; note the incoming cloudbank

Dangerous abyss along the road- just stay in the center

Monte Cavallo (2251m) through a clearing

Virgin snow trail; the pillow shapes are from
 partial melting when it's sunny 

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