Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pala Fontana Hike

Pala Fontana is the first thing I see every morning when I look out my window.  It's the highest spot (1637 meters) on the front range sweeping up from the Adriatic coastal plain. 

 I started by walking from my house in Selva up Via Umberto Saba, which soon turns to gravel.  Turn right onto Troi dei Vuolth trail and climb to Baitola Polo at 813 meters.  From here continue up through a patch of cespuglio shrubby trees and then open alpine grassland to Ricovero Casera di Giais at 1289 meters.  This is a beautiful spot, grassy and flat to rolling, surrounded by higher ground on 3 sides.   Now head southwest on CAI 988 in direction Forcella di Giais.  After you pass through a delightful hidden forest of faggio (beech) you arrive at a right turn marked Pala Mont.  This is a comune trail rather than Club Alpino Italiano, but turned out to be fantastic.  It's well-marked and maintained, with lots of tornanti to ease the steep gradient somewhat.   This joins the ridge trail coming from Monte Ciastelat around 1595 meters and continues to the first high point, followed by a sella and then the cima di Pala Fontana at 1637m.  Great views up here.  

Instead of retracing my steps I decided to check out the trail down to Forcella di Giais.  This seemed much steeper to me- I would definitely recommend Pala Mont trail instead.  Near the forcella I joined CAI 988 and headed northeast.  This trail is very narrow, clinging to the side of a steep slope for a kilometer.  Finally arrived back in the cool shade of the hidden forest.  From here, retraced the route to home.

Wonderful weather and climb.  Next time I may try continuing northeast to Pala d'Alti and descending to the Osservatorio Astronomico.    

Turn onto Troi dei Vuolth

The faint trail continues to the
left of the irises at Baitola Polo

Pretty wildflower along trail

Ricovero Casera di Giais, Cima Valfredda (1307 meters) in background

Rocky cliffs north of Ricovero Casera di Giais

Looking toward Monte Ciastelat from near the ricovero 

The hill that the hidden forest hides behind
Cool, shady hidden faggio forest.
Note exposed karst stone 

Pala Mont trail head: turn right here

Along Pala Fontana ridge-line: some Via Ferrata,
not needed today but handy in the ice and snow 

Monte Cavallo Gruppo from Pala
Fontana ridge; note the erica (heather)

Val Cellina peaks; note Monte Ciastelat knob on right edge 

Casera dietro Ciastelat karst formations

ALIENS!!  No, repeated frost/thaw cycles
make these rock circles in Alpine zones

View northwest: note Piancavallo ski town,
and antenna farm on Col Ceschet (1394m)

Giais, my village on the plain far below

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