Birches turn golden, grass blushes, sunsets grow faster and there ain’t no rest for the steps of those willing to face this beauty
Autumn is often associated with the ending of positiveness, freezing away the warm summer days and fueling flus plus general depression; but why and how could a season extinguish the enthusiasm burning within?
Of course, days are shrinking, dawns are lazy and sunsets fagocitate hours of light. But that’s what gives the trees a chance to color and cover the soil with their now golden and crimson leaves.
And why lose these colors then?
A good reason might be that to see these beauties the price to pay is to get back home in the darkness, illuminating the trail with a small front torch. Moreover the lowering of temperatures leads to considerable humidity which becomes clouds that can fagocitate everything; venturing into these conditions frightens a bit.
As you have already guessed, these are no random examples and yes, I got lost in the clouds at 5am to look for dawn and yes, I went back to the ground lighting the path with a front torch (having also the support of my most loyal navigator, Crumb).
Let’s start with order.
At the beginning of October, I saw from the webcam on Brioschi hut the phenomenon of the “sea of clouds” and boy, how badly I wated to see for real (not through a screen) this wonder of nature.
The oddity and fragility of this phenomenon lies in the fact that it is enough for the sun to rise and warm the thick veil to have it swell and eat the shelter, while just a breath of wind is enough to disperse or pierce the curtain covering the lowlands. The best time to attend these scenes is therefore the morning before dawn, as at night the clouds thicken giving back the cliffs to the sky.
So I decided to leave home early, and by “early” I’m talking about 3:00 in the morning.
After a tour through the dark, meeting less than five cars in one and a half hours of driving, I came to the parking spot of the Cainallo hut, where the trail starts and crosses the Bogani hut, then through the “via della Ganda” (or 25th trail for the nerds of the mountain) to the top.
While driving I noticed that the cloudy curtain was unexpectedly higher than what I was hoping for, overlooking the small village leading to the parking lot.
Obviously, at 4.30 in the morning everything is dark, and if even the moon is obscured by clouds, the only light that can illuminate the road is that of the car lights.
After parking the first trauma arrived: total darkness.
It is not easy to convey the primordial fear that this condition creeps into the mind when the only weapon you have to deal with is the light of a front torch, but be aware that before starting to move for real I had to eat the fear back in to repress the conservative instinct pulling me to wait for the first light rays of twilight to brighten the curtain.
“Off with these prittle-prattles Danny boy, boots on and start walking”
Step by step the sounds of my footsteps became more and more weary, and the clouds all of a sudden swallowed me along the path dampening my sounds and those of nature around me. When you wander in these conditions it becomes very difficult to keep the track, the GPS is offline and the only reference you can have is a mental thread of Ariadne that locks the path by framing it meter by meter.
Just for you to have a reference, the following picture was taken in the first part of the trail, where the track is well-distinguished from the rest of the landscape and the clouds were still not very dense. Beyond the fact that the photo was made with a cellphone while wearing off some clothings, the blurry effect is not so much given by the phone, but because the clouds are obstructing the view. You also see that the front light penetrates only for the first meters of the curtain.
But why am I stressing this so much?
Because of course, I got lost. Many times.
Now you’ll really wanna see something so I’ll cut it out quickly, just try to figure me out in the mist of dawn trying to get back on the trail climbing a hell of a vertical canyon hoping to pop off from the clouds, and while you are seeing me sweaty and freezing, think about the sound of a waking animal rumbling at a couple of meters from your position.
While wandering in this condition I accidentally came across some animals (probably chamois or just goats) sleeping, and the mixed sound of steps, sticks and frightened breath woke them up.
I thought I was so fragile in that precarious condition that even a simple hit from that animal could have made me fell down.
Luckily they got scared more than me and ran away, leaving me alone to pierce the clouds.
Borning again wet, cold and frightened just to warm up at the first lights of dawn.
After a well deserved meal of Pizzoccheri I headed back, luckily the coulds weren’t so dense anymore.
The next week I still had some adrenaline from the previous adventure, so I listened to the mountains call and had to go.
Little did I know that a pitiful act of ignorance had just happened.
While taking some pictures of the opposite cliff dominating the ground in one of the clearest skies ever I noticed there was something strange with the appearance of the metal hut and that there seemed to be no cross at all on the in-camera’s preview. Thinking of some sort of bug or some resolution-related issue I just didn’t really had my mind on that and kept walking.
During breakfast in the summit’s hut I heard the head person speaking of how someone eradicated the cross overnight.
It was saddening and daunting to hear that a symbol of the mountain, that lasted on the higher cliff for almost a century got destroyed by some disrespectful pinheads. I won’t spend much more on this and there will be no pictures of the cliff without the cross because the main topic is not this sillyness of destroying crosses.
Coming off from this bitter awakening I wanted to try a new path, which leads to the Bietti hut from the “bocchetta” Guzzi, a tight passage between the apex spiers leading back to the greener side of the mountain.
On this way I had the lulck to have a break nearby a couple of chamois having a mossy snack.
Passing over the hut I saw for the first time the Prada gate in its autumnal dress, with crimson trees framing the limestone.
The foliage was just at its first phase and not every tree was ready for the seasonal change of dress.
Last but not least and quoting one of the greatest wanderers “happiness is real only when shared” I brought a friend to witness the beauty of these colors, we went in the morning for the Bogani hut, had a quick meal and then headed on the opposite side of the mountain, for the Bietti hut.
Crumb was with us and she acted in the role of caterpillar pulling us up with eager of exploration. She probably snuffled some animals here and there, adding more adrenaline to an already hyped dog.
The scope of the adventure was not just to walk the dog, we followed the sun on the eastern side of the mountain during the morning and went to see the sunset from the second hut.
My friend had never seen any chamois and we also had the luck to see not just a far and blurred one, we sawat least four different herds just minutes before sunset, when the light was golden.
With the last lights burning the last cliffs we headed back to the hut for a quick dinner.
Souped up to store some heat we turned on the front torches and headed back home, it was really funny to see lil’ Crumb hop on the trail as if she knew it since a long time.
What do we keep from all these adventures?
The peace silent peace of mind met only at these altitudes, the muted sound of passing clouds and the joy of walking together. Stepping on rough trails under the constant eye of a hidden wildlife, baffled and entertained of such presence.
In the last episodes I told you how amazing it could be to “get closer” to chamois and wildlife in general, well, in some weeks I’ll finally be able to do so.