Dolomites Wilderness: the Val Montina in Cadore.

Val Montina: the Most Important ‘Wilderness Area’ of the Alpine Chain.

Since the early nineties, the whole area of the Val Montina has been declared a Wilderness Area, and maintains not only the characteristics of a wild territory, but it is also possible, at the same time, to come across, here, the traces of an economic history that was abruptly interrupted by the great flooding of 1962, which engulfed and buried the large electric plant (besides provoking the disaster of nearby Vajont dam). The vegetation is that typical of areas rich in water at valley floor level; on the rocky mountain slopes Black (or Austrian) Pine dominates (Pinus nigra). Among the mammalians, badger, fox, deer and roe-deer are present. This is in fact the most important ‘wilderness area’ of the entire Alpine chain (at least in the Oriental Alps). Since its institution as a protected area, nothing ever was built here, and there is no permanent settlement, either; therefore, the natural development is left to its own devices.

The most accessible trail is the one that from Macchietto descends in the direction of the river Piave (signposted), with some difficulty over the summer period because of the tall grass. With the help of a bridge built by the Ente Nazionale Energia Elettrica (the national electric company) — once overcome the initial uncertainty — one goes across the Piave, thus gaining the other bank of the river.

The signs that are present in the area are enough for allowing one to choose itineraries for different options and abilities: the nature lover may follow the simple tracks that cross through woodland and meadows rich in biodiversity; the excursionist will be able to trek the paths to the Bivacco Baroni or the isolated Alberghet, gracious and welcoming; or follow the trail which, with the help of two aerial bridges, gains the opposite bank of Col Svalut, then descending to the area of Ansogne, and returning on one’s steps to the starting point. The crossing of the Montina stream requires, in the last section, to use a ford, and therefore some care; usually, however, the water level is low enough to allow a safe crossing, and also the temperature of the water is usually not too cold (at least in the summer months).

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