Monday, May 16, 2011

Hiking the cascate dell'acquasanta trail in the Mt. Sibillini national park

16 Maggio 2011
Bacco and I after working a full day Saturday planned our hike in the Sibillinis for Sunday.  Bacco asked for a trail full of cool mountain streams and I wanted a bit of a challenge, so we decided on the waterfalls of the sacred water trail departing from the little mountain town of Bolognola.  It is a 90 minute drive from Nascondiglio di Bacco and involves driving to Sarnano and then past the ski slopes of Sassotetto before cresting the mountain pass an descending to Bolognola.  You have good signage for the trail head, but after that things become tricky.  Parking  is available for the escursionisti and you walk to the end of the road where the trailhead is marked thusly:
The first thing you notice is the 15.4 km part of the sign.  I am sure 90% of the people turn back at this point.  Is it 10 miles round trip or one way?  I strongly recommend to any mountain lovers who are coming to visit us at Nascondiglio di Bacco or nearby lodgings, buy the book by Gillian Price called 'Italy's Sibillini National Park-Walking and Trekking Guide'.  (If you forget, you can borrow mine) The book gives the distance as 12.4 km round trip and I would bet he is very close based on my walking pace.  They mention the trail is a difficulty 2-3 which interested me, and that it was well marked (not!)
Just 100 meters past the trailhead is your 1st challenge, a new road which descends to a logging area and a dead end at the stream and a very steep climb back to the right path, see photo below and please take the LEFT grassy way.
You then descend to the stream and wonder again which way to go, you have to walk upstream 20 meters (it pays to have gortex or waterproofed hiking shoes or boots with a lug sole-the latter part is very important for later!) and you will see the trail leaving the stream on the right.  Bacco enjoyed this part more than me, especially as we finished up our return.
bottom of pic is where you exit the stream to continue the hike after arriving from the left of the frame 30 meters or so downstream, the water is shallow

Now you will come to the only ascent of any significance and will turn to your right at a fork, also not marked, into a mature 2nd growth forest for a hike that is about 80% in the trees and shaded.  Soon you will run into some of the little challenges of the trail as it seems the forest service hasn't had time to either mark or clear this trail for a while.

These impediments are worse for those of us who travel with backpacks or are corpulent.  In some areas this trail is less than a foot wide and a misstep means a long drop or slide which is why I recommend lug soles.  Near the end of the trail is a part protected by a chain where the drop off is fairly marked and the trail a bit more exposed.  Bacco is trying to decide if he needs to grab it... he didn't.
The trail was built along an old aqueduct which was covered with cement tiles.  You can walk along the tiles and in places, as the book mentions, they make sounds like bass notes (there are a few high notes).  Your hiking poles are a hassle here as they will catch in the cracks. The water heads down to towns below and it was quite a feat of engineering.  Nature has completely covered some areas of the tiles as the mountain slowly heads to the sea, but other areas are pristine and water is still flowing beneath your feet.

Spoiler alert!  Now it is time for the payoff.  Here are some photos of the waterfalls.
This is the first of many and some go right across the trail, so watch your step.

Bacco is always finding the waterholes

1st view of probably the tallest waterfall of the bunch

At this time of spring, there is still a bunch of packed snow below the falls which Bacco is walking upon.  

The waterfall disappearing between the remaining snow and the rock face.

The dam is the end of the road unless you want to clamber up slick rocks and explore the water filled canyon above.  
As you see the canyons and hills are sedimentary rock formations thrust up by some ancient upheaval leaving man lines like a millefoglia dessert, a bit angulated, though.

The hike is pleasant and took me an hour and 15 minutes to get to the dam (I was keeping up a good pace in case it really was 15.4 km to the waterfalls) and an hour and a half to return as it was then I took the photos, talked to the birds and let Bacco have his water time.  Here he is cooling down and posing.

1 comment:

Linda said...

The hike looks like it has all the qualities of a good day out. . .a bit of mystery, physical challenge, water features, and an excellent reason to come home and have pasta and wine! Meraviglioso!!