The botanical path leads us to a little known but very interesting trail. To start with, go up to Passo Feudo using two lifts which set off just after Predazzo: first of all take the bubble car which goes to Gardonè and then the chairlift to the Rifugio Passo Feudo.
From the Passo Feudo start walking downhill along the forestry road as far as a stone station of the cross he (on the left) and continue slightly uphill to gain height. Continue along the road, leaving the Dos Capèl geological path on the left: after a short descent you come to the Tresca ski slope during winter. There is a junction here with a signpost which indicates the “botanical path” to the left and, a few metres further on, another signpost telling you to continue, still to the left, towards a grassy hollow.
The first part of the botanical path is immersed in the greenery of the meadow and in the colours of the flowers. If you take this path at the beginning of July, still going down into a lush little valley, you can admire: negritella, rhododendron, mountain geraniums, Martagon lilies, white aconites, wild buttercups, wild asters, thyme, arnica, gentians and other flowers and different types of bushes.
The view is well worthwhile! From the other side of the valley we have the majestic Pale di San Martino and lower down, amongst the luxuriant Paneveggio forest of red pines, we glimpse the reflection of the Fortebuso dam. Continuing downhill on the left you can see the marmots’ burrows and further to the right, a little fountain to drink from and fill up your bottles.
Here we can enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, with the silence broken only by the sound of the wind and birdsong. Breathing in this pure, clean fresh air and breathing out all our anxieties, you will then understand how much good this contact with nature does you.
We continue our descent, partly on grass and partly over white stones and then come to the first trees: larches, pinus cembra and red pine. It is unusual to find conifers at the same altitude but you can admire their beauty and note the differences. On the left, in the distance, you can finally see Marmolada’s majestic south face and, continuing along the path, you can also see Piz Boè. As you progress further, the woods become more dense and we can enjoy the cool under the trees. On the left, even further along there is an incredible trail: you will walk under the great white rock boulders which rolled down from the Latemar millions of years ago.
Proceed and on the right you will see some other rocks. We recommend to stop and observe them carefully: you will notice letters and red colours painted on the rock. This is the “shepherd’s writing” which show the passage of pastoral activity: initials, acronyms, dates, names, the counting of cattle made from half way through the 18th century to half way through the 20th century.
During those years the mountains were used extensively. At altitude the meadows were used for haymaking while the steep slopes above the village, impossible to cultivate due to the steep gradients, were used as grazing land for goats and sheep who were able to reach the steep terrain in search of the last blades of grass. If we think of the pastures we left behind and the path’s gradients, it is easy to understand why only more agile animals were brought here.
On the white rock faces which separate the high altitude meadows from the intermediate grazing areas, the shepherds coloured the rock with red ochre graffiti which can be easily found in the various areas of the mountains around here. In Val di Fiemme this ochre colour is called “ból”.
As you continue the descent, along the path, you will notice that many of the tree trunks have a hump at the base. This is a sign that snow leaves during winter when it slides down the steep slopes and stops, with all its weight, on the trees it finds along its path. These are “hunchback” larch trees, very resistant trees which bend but don’t break!
Many coloured butterflies accompany us along the path, we can also hear the buzzing of bees and busy ants keeps us company. We come out of a wooded area, and on the left, you will notice dark stones and short stone walls which mark the path. This dark rock is porphyry: remains of lava from the volcano situated at Predazzo. If you want to find out more about the rocks of this mountain we recommend you give the Geotrail Dos Capèl walk a go.
As well as the birds chirping and the rustling of the trees swaying in the wind we can hear the water. In fact there is a lovely little stream which cuts across our path but don’t worry, we can easily cross it by placing our feet on the stones. If you’re careful you might find wild watercress, a plant which only grows near streams. Who knows it well can try its spicy leaf, delicious in a dish of wild herbs.
The path climbs slightly uphill, then there is a flat section which runs under the shade of fir trees. Further on you will see the roof of Malga Gardonè: our itinerary has come to an end. You will see the chairlift which was taken during the morning to reach Passo Feudo, and further on, to the right, Baita Gardonè. After this full immersion in nature and a difficult descent, enjoy a well deserved break on the mountain hut’s terrace to get your energy back.
After a downhill walk, with a lot of vertical descent like this walk, it is best to do a little bit of stretching for your quads. You will be as good as new for tomorrow’s excursion.