Lake della Vacca and the Colle del Sabbione
The most interesting part of the excursion is the portion above the Gias Valera. Lake della Vacca is quite lovely, nestled in a grassy bowl, as is the Colle del Sabbione pass, where the difference between the steep rocky crags of the Italian side and the softly rounded grassy slopes of the French one can be clearly appreciated.
From the unpaved parking lot near the Porcera bridge (1078 m), the route follows the dirt road heading south, on the hydrographic left of the Bousset torrent. At the first evident turn to the right, the route passes by a turnoff on the left and continues on the main path. It also passes by another turnoff a bit further, to the left and slightly downhill, and a park service road on the right. The dirt road climbs and crosses the Vallone della Rua stream, remaining in a cool and shady deciduous forest. Passing by yet another park service road on the right, after a brief uphill tract the road reaches the Suffiet bridge.
On the other side of the bridge, the road continues through a wood dominated by beeches, alternating brief level tracts with slight uphill ones. It passes by a turnoff decending to the Gias Blin and, not much further on, also passes the short turnoff for the Gias d'Ischietto (1357 m, 1 hour and 5 minutes from the Porcera bridge).
Beyond this last turnoff, the road, which is narrower at this point, climbs at a sharper incline through the beech woods and enters the Vallone del Sabbione, leaving the broad Vallone d'Ischietto in front of it.
The route passes by a turnoff to the right of a switchback and, when the incline lessens in a narrow stretch of valley, the dirt road runs along the banks of the torrent. Shortly thereafter, the track comes to the Gias Valera, where the valley broadens again, and continues on a wide and well-kept mule track. At a turnoff not much beyond the gias, the route passes by the small trail that leads straight to the Passo della Mena pass and descends to the right, crossing over a broad wooden bridge. Marked by stones planted in the grassy soil or rocky ground, the comfortable mule track leads easily up to the Gias dell'Adreit (1643 m, 1 hour and 5 minutes from the Gias Valera).
Now on a footpath, the route continues on a long traverse through grassy slopes with scattered clumps of detritus, never climbing at too steep an incline. Some switchbacks rise over the slope of a ridge and then a brief midslope traverse leads to the edge of the bowl in which the ruins of the Gias della Culatta stand.
After crossing a small rivulet, the trail descends to the middle of the bowl, fords the torrent that runs along the bottom of the depression and begins to climb rapidly in steep switchbacks up the orographic right of the valley. At an altitude of ca. 2080 m, the route passes by a difficult to spot (and unmarked) trail leading off to the left for the east Colle del Sabbione pass. It then veers southwest and levels off somewhat, at the foot of the rock faces, with a long traverse through bushes and shrubs.
The traverse is interrupted only by a couple of switchbacks and leads directly to Lake della Vacca (2260 m, 2 hours and 15 minutes from the Gias dell'Adreit).
Near the lake, which lies just at the head of the Vallone del Sabbione, the route passes by the turnoff for Colle Vei del Bouc on the right and with a few easy switchbacks leads to the west Colle del Sabbione pass (2328 m, 10 minutes from Lake della Vacca).
Access and parking
Drive from Borgo San Dalmazzo up the Valle Gesso. After passing Valdieri, turn left for Entracque. At the ruondabout, turn left for Trinità, and from there continue on to the Porcera bridge.
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