Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A good hike gone bad? no's 24,25,&26 in the Monti della Laga book

12 luglio
After another 11 day stretch of non-stop working, Bacco got a little antsy and begged for a mountain hike.  We have had one week of 90 + degree weather (with another week to go), and above 1300 meters you get a little respite.  My goal was to find a nice trail with abundant streams for Bacco to play in and drink.  I chose no. 26 in the book and headed off to the little town of Ceppo a 75 minute drive from us.  This is evidently mushroom heaven as they have a barricaded road which they open only for those with mushroom hunting permits.  I parked outside the gate and headed off on a very pleasant stroll through the "marvelous forest" (the chapter title for the hikepassing all the cars of the fungus searchers along the way.   Its real name is the bosco Martese and was the site of a famous battle in WWII between the resistance fighters of the area and the germans.  After 90 minutes, we ended up at a nice 40 meter waterfall called Cascata della Morricana where I snapped some photos and tried to figure out how I might return to the parking area without retracing the 5 km stretch of trail which was on a dirt road.

Don't get me wrong, for a first date hike, you could do this and have a picnic and be wonderfully satisfied as it is quite peaceful, beautiful and easy.  But, I hadn't even gotten close to being lost yet, so I went back to the book and found a way to make it a loop hike (no. 25).  I hiked further along, up and out of the forest, where the trail had been beautifully marked, and entered a pastoral setting of grasses, flowers and singing birds, but no trail.  I followed the general instructions written in the book walking directly into a 200 yard stretch of tightly bunched thistles and, hidden beneath them, stinging nettles.  I felt like St. Benedict doing his penitence after feeling lust for a woman when he exited from his hermitage (he had lain nude in a field of nettles until the feeling passed).  I arrived at another 2 or 3 beautiful waterfalls where the description of the route was, "head right before the last waterfall, you will see the trail when you are nearly upon it.
2nd waterfall past the forest from above

Last waterfall above the forest; I wasted some energy and climbed above it for the photo.

For those doing this hike, take a left out of the forest and head towards the little house you see in the mid right of the picture thus avoiding the huge field of nettles and thistles to its left.  Then proceed  towards the waterfall below easily visible cascading down the mountain, whereupon you head to its right, climbing upwards until you get to the oblique, left running trail which will give you fits trying to stay on as it disappears at its own whim.  

  After losing this trail a handful of times, I decided to head straight up to an imposing ridge above figuring if their trail was not reliable, I would make my own.   I climbed about 500 meters up, hit 2 false summits and found the ridge I saw below was the middle of a mountain and after considering a tactful surrender, continued on until we arrived at the top of Pizzo di Moscio, which happens to be hike 24 in the book.   Once you leave the forest below, you enter into one of the forgotten circles of Dante's Inferno with its attacking plants and also horseflies which make mosquitoes' blood sucking look like pleasant little kisses.  Every time I took a pause in this uphill trek and there were many, they swarmed me.  They are slow, so you can swat them easily enough and that smears your combined rbc's all over whatever exposed body part they attacked.  I am going back to hiking in jeans!
After walking straight up the hill Bacco arrives at the summit of Pizzo di Moscio, 2411 meters slm.

Views of the Sibillini mountains in the distance to the north above and Gran Sasso to the south pictured below

Having labored extensively, Bacco is eyeing the way to the car from the top of La Storna.  It is here I finished my 2 liter camelback water and had to go to the reserve liter with an hour and 40 minutes of descent ahead.
Now, the book says to descend to the road for Ceppo but then take a fork to the left which is a little used lane passing by a farmhouse with 5 Abruzzese Shepherds who ganged up on Bacco.  Luckily he was too quick for them and took no damage.  This lane is supposed to take you back into the "marvelous forest", see photo above.  I asked a farmer on said lane if this would take me down to Ceppo and he said yes, but I would have to guess which way to go after a bit.  I said I had been doing that all day, so what harm could come from continuing in that manner.  Well, the road starts out pretty clear and wide, narrows and becomes covered by a blanket of leaves and then disappears, leaving you to guess and hope.  The good news is, if you don't fall off a cliff first and head to the right, you should eventually hit the main road I dismissed at the book's recommendation and if you go left, you hit the road you walked previously on the way to the waterfall.  I ended up on the latter after zig-zagging on a logging trail for a bit (something about being on the semblance of a trail soothes my nerves).  Well, I am writing this now, so I guess we made the 6 hour and 18 minute 1100 meter climb and 1100 m. descent and lived to talk about it.  I am seriously considering buying a mobile GPS before taking any more hikes in Abruzzo, though!

No comments: