A solitary hike in the wild Val Apua, Friuli Venezia Giulia
It has been a month since the last trekking, and I only have one request: to find a forest in which to breathe autumn.
Stefano and I wake up at dawn with our destination already set in mind: the Bivacco Bianchi in Val Alba, Friuli Venezia Giulia.
We caught a glimpse of the building during the beautiful documentary by Ivo Pecile and Marco Virgilio on the Carnic Alps and, being the area unknown to both of us, it felt like a good idea to explore it, all wrapped up in an autumn dress.
What you will read in this post:
How to reach Bivacco Bianchi
We drive towards Moggio Udinese and pass the village to push ourselves into the depths of the valley. We pass a small hamlet called Pradis and then turn right towards our destination. The road, winds under a burrow of amber trees, it is narrow but well preserved and we taste there the first preview of the landscape that awaits us along with the trekking.
When we reach the parking lot, we find it full of cars and for a moment we fear that the trip, which we hoped to do alone, will be more crowded than expected.
The trail to Bivacco Bianchi
PAY ATTENTION TO THE FIRST STRETCH OF THE TRAIL
We’ll follow the CAI trails 450 and 428, but we immediately find ourselves in front of a doubt. Some signs warn us that the 450 trail is partly closed but the tape that closed the passage has been torn and we cannot understand at what point the danger is really hidden. We advance slowly and cross a couple who assure us that the track is safe even though it runs along with a landslide for a few meters. On the way back, through the Vualt refuge, we understand how the obstacle was supposed to be circumvented. If you decide to go there, do this: follow the signs for the Vualt refuge, and after a short asphalted climb, you will find on the right the detour to retrace your steps on path 450.
The hike to Rifugio Bianchi
After this moment of uncertainty, we enjoy the fairytale undergrowth. Outside the forest, we have left a clear sky but under the protection of the trees, the twilight is so dense that it almost feels like walking in the late afternoon, instead of 9 am.
In spite of the cars in the parking lot, Stefano and I are alone, accompanied only by the nearby calls of the birds and the creaking of the wood that resembles that of an old creaking door.
The walk is pleasant and flat, but a quick glance at the clock is enough to understand that tranquility will not last long. We have already covered more than a kilometer of the total four and we have not started climbing up yet.
We pass a couple of fords and finally, there it is, waiting for us.
As we start to climb my lungs and legs scold me for the month of inactivity. I feel so down, that it seems impossible to have covered almost 70km in a week, barely a month ago.
The trail rises into a dense labyrinth of trees. Stefano and I walk carefree with our eyes fixed on the small portions of the sky that can be seen through the wicker of trees. We are so immersed in nature that a couple of times we lose track of the path (which, perhaps, is not very well marked here).
We then meet a new crossroad for the Vualt Refuge and proceed to the right, straight to the bivouac. Without realizing it, protected by the shield of the forest, we approach the slope and glimpse the autumn foliage among the silhouettes of the trees, as if through giant windows.
The trek leaves no room for breath and we quickly rise above the forest with an increasingly narrow path that continues like a snake.
After a few minutes, we reach the part I was most afraid of: a small section of the track carved into the bare rock which, although about one meter wide, is very exposed. I face it as any good mountaineer should face it: with my head down and repeating to myself “Don’t look down”.
Once past the challenge, I don’t even dare look back and focus on the landscape in front of me, with the mountains that widen as far as the eye can see.
Arriving to Bivacco Bianchi
The bivouac stands on a promontory as if to represent the last bastion of human life in an increasingly wild valley. The view is spectacular, and Stefano lists the peaks in front of us: Vualt, Grauzaria, Sernio, Chiavals and Zuc dal Bor.
The bivouac has recently been rebuilt and is as comfortable as it is unusable, due to Covid-19. Unfortunately, someone considers themselves above the rules and ignores the ban (and also the unfavorable weather forecasts of the following day).
We stop just enough for a snack, some photos, and a few laughs.
Descending to Rifugio Vualt
To go down we retrace our steps, this time continuing straight towards the Vualt at the above-mentioned crossroads.
The shelter also turns out to be adorable. It recalls the one on the slopes of Mount Cuarnan and appears to be a perfect location for a barbecue with friends when times will allow it. The cabin of my dreams looks a lot like it so I comfortably sit on the bench next to the door as if I were at home and let myself be warmed by the rays of the sun.
Stefano and I eat our sandwich and leave for home. Before leaving the refuge and heading towards the parking lot, I see the last sign pointing towards Dordolla, to suggest the way for the next walk.
Why should you visit Bivacco Bianchi
The only flaw of the path is perhaps the lack of variety in landscapes. However, a short online search is enough to discover that many different paths can be taken from it, it is just a matter of discovering them. For sure, this walk is perfect for admiring the autumn foliage away from the crowds but above all, it is a great hike for the summer, as the forest protects much of the path from the heat.
I always have mixed feelings when talking about the mountains, especially when it comes to such remote and precious places. If on one hand, I would like everyone to be able to know and appreciate such spaces, on the other I would like to preserve the wild and almost abandoned territories, such as Val Alba, for those few who really love them and dare to travel beyond the most traveled routes.
I think that with the opening of the blog, the desire to share has won, but it is likely that the Alba valley and the Biavacco Bianchi will still remain hidden pearls that it is up to you to visit and, if possible, to love.
- CAI trail: 450 and 428
- Altitude: 1730 slm
- Difference in altitude: +780
- Ascent: 2h
- Length: 10 km a / r