We wanted to use the last day without snow for a long hike in the national park Gran Paradiso which is known for its wildlife with ibex, marmot and eagles.
We parked the camper van on the public parking space in Valnontey where we slept 2 nights. The campsite was already closed when we arrived, end of September is definitely off season.
Phil found a challenging hike on Outdooractive. Weather forecast said rain in the afternoon so we started at 8:30 with the ascent. I was of course expecting to spot an ibex behind every turn and was already a bit disappointed when we reached Rifugio Vittorio Sella and no ibex showed up.
But while we were eating our sandwiches at the Rifugio I spotted a group of ibex on an opposing hillside, confirmed using the binoculars and camera :-). We enjoyed a fresh espresso in the hut and continued the hike, most meters were climbed but the more difficult part was up next.
The description of path 18 B says difficulty EE, partially exposed.
The scenery during the hike changed behind every corner, from autumn coloured mountain pasture sprinkled with rocks, to jagged rocks over glacier views covered in thin fog, clouds moving up, waterfalls and bridges and even the sun spotting parts of the mountains in the valley.
No need to mention that I had to stop very often to take the camera and capture the wildlife, like the ibex that just stood there all of a sudden. It was like „hey Johanna, heard you’re a Capricorn and are so exited to take a picture of me“ – still feels unreal.
The silence and the wildness of this valley made us speechless. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve been so far, it even beats the Matterhorn scenery.
After 8 hours on our feet we arrived back at the camper van, feet and legs were hurting and still are after 20 km and 1100 meters up. But it has been absolutely worth it. The pictures will speak from themselves I guess.
I am writing these lines while Phil is driving us back home, currently through Switzerland. We planned another week on the road but snow is forecasted in the mountains. There is also no regret of ending our road trip at this point as Gran Paradiso gave us so many memories to feed our mountain souls at least for some time ;-). We will be back – for sure.