“Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers – for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.”
And here we are again, the Stretta Valley is again in front of us! It’s not the first time we see it in its winter dress, we have already been here last winter to see the Lago Verde covered in white and it have been a marvellous experience, followed by a very tasty dinner and an even better way back under a starry sky. It was cold back then, there was a chilling wind, while this time everything was perfect.
The one and only – or almost – snow storm of the year, has left some fresh and powdery snow on the ground. It hasn’t let us arrive to the Col of Thures, that’s true, but it has gifted us with a great hike toward the Lago Verde – literally the Green Lake – and funny moment diving in the fresh snow.
The refuges in this valley – the Re Magi and the 3° Alpini refugese – have been very important in this season, givin us the opportunity of spending warm nights and great, abundant dinners, a great luxury when the outside temperature drops well below zero degrees.
Then the spring comes, the snow melts little by little, the grass fields gets green again and the shperds with the cow herds and duck flocks come. The temperatures increase and it’s time for us to take our tent, along with many other trailers, tents and caravans which crowd the valley. Actually, it is illegal to camp here, but it is impossible to resist the urge and it is tolerated as long as everything is cleaned up and the environment is protected. We have taken advantage of these grass fields many times, the last time for our goodbye party before leaving for Canada, when we managed to pitch eight tents and so many friends for a day hike to Guglia Rossa, the Red Peak, one of our favourite places, and then a camping night with so much fun.
Yep, because the hikings starting from Grange of Stretta Valley, the little town where the refuges are, are so many: you can decide to stay on Italian ground, walking towards the Guglia Rossa and the Col de Thures – which is italian despite the french name – with its lakes or have a short but rewarding hike towards the Lago Verde, the Green Lake, and the Pian delle Fonderie, a place where the best you can do it bring along a good book and enjoy the sun reading.
Or you can decide for some harder hike, still very rewarding: one amongst all, the trail which leads to Mount Thabor, even though often, in spring, there is still too much snow – well, not this year unless the weather is suddenly changing – to get there without crampons or snowshoes – it is a must in wintertime for the ski mountaineers!
And then the summer comes, with its long warm days, so why not refresh yourself with a good dive in a nice cold lake? The Lavoir Lake is perfect for those who can’t stand the hot days. The hike is affordable to everybody, kids and grannys and even toddlers who still do not walk – it’s tested! – and the flat grassy shores are the perfect place for an after lunch nap.
During fall, instead, when the days are still warm but not too much anymore, you can use the nice Refuge du Thabor, which is not really near Mount Thabor indeed, but it’s a perfect stop to go visit the totally stunning turquoise Peyron Lake or camp on the shores of Lac Rond and Lac Tond – the Round and Long Lakes – and wake up to the birds chirping and a breakfast under the towering Cheval Blanc – the White Horse. We have tried it all and it really is an experience worth to do, even if we really do not advise you to hike to Mount Thabor with a full backpack – and there is nothing to make it lighter when you have to carry all for a cold night: tent, sleeping bag, warm clothes, food and stove, since you know you’ll need a hot tea. You always end up with a backpack way heavier than you wish – and then, still not satisfied, you can go down to the Peyron Lake and up again towards the Refuge du Thabor. It is better to divide the long hike in two if your legs are not well trained!
Summing it up, the Stretta Valley can offer fun and amazing landscapes all year long, even when the weather is harsh and the days too short, there is always a short walk, a spare ray of sun piercing the clouds or a little animal which will make your day.
So just put your boots on – even though in summer you would easily go with just a good pair of runners – a snack in your pockets or all your camping gear in the backpack and leave to go and enjoy this little corner oh Heaven between Italy and France!