A fairly short and easy stretch, almost completely downhill.
Very scenic, with beautiful views of Monviso (3,841 m), the crest of Cima delle Lobbie, and a large part of the Alps.
Water points are absent up to Pontechianale.
We wake up at dawn to enjoy the show of the red-tinted eastern face of Monviso. Then we resume the path of the GTA, slightly uphill (approximately 100 m height difference), between the small lakes of Nona, Sagnette, and Pellegrina. Proceeding on a well-marked path, we slowly gain altitude up to Passo Gallarino (2,728 m). It is worth stopping to admire, a little further south, the massif of Cima delle Lobbie (3,015 m, not to be confused with the one in Adamello).
On a comfortable and always aerial cross path, we proceed towards the San Chiaffredo Pass, dominated by Punta Dante (3,166 m). From the pass starts the descent towards the Varaita Valley (approx. 1,100 m drop). At first very easy, between Lake Lungo and Lake Bertin - in the proximity of the latter, we cross an expanse of many "tombstones" made of cairns, it seems a contemporary art installation. Not too far, we spot the Bivacco Bertoglio, in a panoramic position.
Afterward, the descent becomes more decisive, but always on a good track (just long!) up to Pian Meyer, where we return to the thick woods. The slope softens and we quickly arrive at the Vallanta Stream, which we cross and skirt, on a carriage road, up to the hamlet of Castello, in Val Varaita, at the eastern end of Lake Castello. Along the southern shore of Lake Castello, on a flat cycle path, we arrive at Pontechianale.
Valverbe has been producing organic “mountain herbal teas” in Val Varaita since 1985.
Their peculiarity lies in the fact that the herbs are dried with an "open cell" system, which deprives them of water but preserves intact the cell membrane and the active ingredients, aroma, and perfume. Thanks to a cold drying plant, recreating the conditions of the evening breeze inside the drying chamber.
The knowledge of the mountain and the use of its wild herbs is one of the secrets of the success of this company. A good example of how we can do business in and with the mountains, in an ethical and sustainable way.
For more info, see the following LINK.
Near Lake Bertin it is possible to admire an expanse of hundreds of cairns, made of stones placed in vertical balance by passing hikers - it seems almost a prehistoric cemetery.
A suggestive spontaneous work of art, which harmoniously unites the passage of man to wild nature.
The Bosco dell' Alevè is one of the largest forests of stone pines in all of Europe and it is very old: already Virgil and Pliny the Elder wrote about it.
The stone pine can reach up to 20 m in height and is a long-lived plant: the oldest specimen of this wood is at least 600 years old. Since 1949 it has been a "seed forest": the State Forestry Corps collect its pine nuts and plant them so that they sprout and can be planted in other places.
In the small village of Melle, in the lower Val Varaita, you can taste the fantastic beers of the Officina Antagonisti.
The young Enrico and Fabio began their adventure as a brew firm (a brewery without facilities) with a summer kiosk in the small town: the company was successful and today, in their Officina Antagonisti restaurant, you can also taste local dishes, such as the famous, exquisite tomino di Melle, or capocollo with beer and, finally, enjoy an excellent ice cream, in a very welcoming and informal environment.
For more info, see the following LINK.
Rifugio Alevè (GTA stopover), in the hamlet of Castello di Pontechianale. Tel. +39 347 767 2234
Camping Libac, in the hamlet of Maddalena di Pontechianale. Tel. +39 0175 95 01 33
Starting point NOT reachable by car.
The nearest location reachable by car is Crissolo.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location reachable by bus is Bobbio Paesana, starting from the city of Cuneo with a change in Saluzzo.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.