Sunday, April 7, 2024

An Early Spring Hike to Lago Branchino in Valcanale (Ardesio), in the Upper Val Seriana

View south from Corno Branchino twoard Corna Piana Climbing Corno Branchino
Left: View south from Corno Branchino towoard Corna Piana.
Right: Climbing Corno Branchino

It was embarrassing. As we approached the trailhead, we assured our friend driving that we hadn’t been here and in fact, we had been here twice before. Once with this friend and once on our own. Give us a break, we are still new to this area!

Duration: 7 hours (includes lunch)
Elevation: 843 m
Length: 10.5 km
Location: Val Seriana

We first came to Valcanale – a east-west valley branching off the upper Val Seriana - in July 2018. See Hike in Valcanale: Rifugio Branchino and Lago Branchino. Can I just say, wow, we took some great photos on that day. We weren’t just using cell phone cameras at that time like we are now.

Then a few weeks later, we started our big hike in Valcanale. See Seven Days on the Sentiero delle Orobie – A Journey Through the Bergamo Alps. We arrived by bus from Bergamo that time.

Today’s hike was mostly on snow to reach Passo Branchino and return. At the pass, we went up to see the “pyramid” on top of Corno Branchino (2029 m). Given that Rifugio Branchino (1787 m) was closed, we ate at Rifugio Alpe Corte (1410 m).

Because of the snow, we don’t have many flower pictures save for [Asteraceae] Tossilago farfara – Coltsfoot and [Asteraceae] Petasites albus – White Butterbur, both of which are described in our Bergamasque Prealps Flowers and Flora Pinterest for Asteraceae page.

We saw an interesting sign in the rifugio that talked about the biodiversity of this area. We’ve wanted to hike the Sentiero dei fiori (part of which is trail 222) for some time. Still on our list. The trail goes from Passo Branchino to Rifugio Capanna 2000. The flowers on that trail are supposed to be amazing. 

The sign in the rifugio talked about insects named after local place names and/or are unique to this area including: Scythris arerai – a moth (story), Trechus montisarerae – beetle, Abax arerae – beetle, Leptusa areraensis – beetle, Ischyropsalis lithoclasica – spider, and Allegrettia comotti – beetle.  Arera(e) refers to the nearby Pizzo Arera.

Climbing to Corno Branchino On the south flank of Corno Branchino View north from Corno Branchino
Left: Climbing to Corno Branchino.
Center: On the south flank of Corno Branchino.
Right: View north from Corno Branchino.

Rifugio Alpe Corte - Costine con patate Rifugio Alpe Corte - Torta della nonna The treasures of the park poster
Left: Rifugio Alpe Corte - a plate of ribs (costine) with potatoes.
Center: Rifugio Alpe Corte - torta della nonna.
Right: A sign describing the biodiversity of the area including insects found or named after local place names like Pizzo Arera.

Start of hike near Alpe Corte Track for the hike Walking on trail 218 toward Passo Branchino
Left: Heading toward Rifugio Alpe Corte.
Center: Tracks for this hike.
Right: Heading to Rifugio Branchino.

Trail 216 near Alpe Corte View south from Rifugio Alpe Corte Trail 218 heading toward Lago and Passo Branchino
Left: Trail 218 near Rifugio Alpe Corte.
Center: View south from Rifugio Alpe Corte toward Pizzo Arera.
Right: Trail toward Passo Branchino in early spring, full of snow.

 View southeast from Passo Branchio twoard Passo Val Vedra
View southeast from Passo Branchio toward Passo Val Vedra. Notice the red tinge of the snow from the sands of Sahara. Each year tens of millions of tons of dust blow out from North Africa carried on strong seasonal winds. Some of that ends up in Italy.

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