Saturday, September 15, 2012

Snow in Gardena Valley

Parents in the snow
We spent a good bit of time on a ridge that undulated around the 2,150 meter mark. Now and then we dipped below treeline which was particularly pretty.
Our free day, September 12, was a bit dreary with on and off again rain in the morning and especially afternoon. Clouds were pretty low so views from above the valley floor were all but nil. I suppose the weather made my minestrone soup at the mountain refuge at the upper terminus of the funicular (call it 2,100 meters elevation) more enjoyable but a view of something other than clouds would have been nice. We spent a good bit of time wandering around the town of Ortisei and then a fair bit of time just hanging about the hotel in Selva. This is all to give you a sense of the change in the weather. Snow was forecast for that evening and snow is what we got. Now, keep in mind that it can snow up high and do nothing or at most rain down low. That is what happened. The snow line was probably just over 2,000 meters but probably not quite 2,100. The higher you would go the more snow there would be. We planned to reprise the hike Mom had done Tuesday which spent much of the time contouring along a ridge with several fine views across the Gardena Valley. The official walks were either too much or too little as far as we were concerned.
The snow line was not that far below the upper terminus of the funicular. Where we spent much of our day, around 2,150 meters, snow was a couple inches deep on the slopes. The hiking paths were clear.
Funicular view
From the funicular we passed over the snow line not long before reaching the upper terminus. Today you can see Ortisei as the cloud ceiling is much higher.
The mountain hutte is not far from the funicular (to the east). A s all church, not shown, is not that far west of here.

We had a couple of inches of snow on the ground to either side of the hiking paths we would follow. I don't know what kept the paths so clear. It is true paths that get trafficked seem warmer and maybe they get a bit of shelter from the surrounding ground being just that fractionally bit higher. Whatever the reason our paths were almost all clear except for a few icy patches near the start of the day. The snow gave everything a fairyland winter feel to it. The temperature was around 40 throughout the walk with frequent stiff winds to give a substantial windchill. We were all comfortable with what we had to wear. Plenty of other people were also comfortable; the downside of the walk - crowds. We did feel a bit pressed at times which is a bit of a shame. Still it was a very fine day to wander the ridges above and below snow and tree lines. While we did not see the abundance of animal life Mom saw Tuesday (just one group of sheep) we had a fine four hours hiking the 8 miles. We spent more time in Ortisei before calling it a day. I ended the night joining others for a brass band (the Big Grass Band of Selva) concert. Not bad at all.

Mountain cabin
What a difference a day can make. The only snow around this mountain cabin above the Edelweiss Valley is what you see melting off the steep roof. I expect we were around the 2,100-2,150 meter elevation mark and even at the start of the morning on Friday morning at 10:00 around 2,300 meters the snow was all but gone.


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