Crossing the border

This was the last hiking I did last summer. It was one of the longest I did up to that day (21 km) and the sun was burning my head, but it was a lot of fun!

The initial idea was to follow Campanara’s loop, a marked CAI trail that starts in a place I already talked about on the blog in the past, Piedimonte. As I already said I used to enjoy some summer camps here, more than 10 years ago. It has a soccer field and a little creek nearby, where we used to play when I was younger and life was a lot less stressful: sometimes I think I should have enjoyed those days a lot more, but I’m digressing.

From here, as always, the path begins uphill: I immediately reach Vignola, another house not too far, where we used to build up bases for our games. I didn’t come back here in ages and never went past it; there’s nothing more beautiful and exciting than broaden the borders of my exploration.

Setting steps in uncharted territory, like the fog of war in any RTS game, is something I always strife for. And, as always happened, what awaits me over the border is flabbergasting: from here the path takes a curve and a long, uphill ridge arises in front of me. daring me to overcome it. Challange accepted.

From here the real slope begins: the ridge is rocky and, while i gain altitude, i log/replace a couple of caches along the way. The view is astonishing, even with the sun really taking a toll on me: i’m swimming in sweat, but I find myself stopping more and more just to enjoy the scenery and the little breeze that, sometimes, touches my face. It’s really something I can’t explain, something hitting the depths of my bowels: what do I do here? Why I have to go back home after this? Why tomorrow I have to go back into my office? I keep climbing (also using a funny steel ladder somone though to bring here to help the ascent), passing nearby Ciriegiolo, a houses I passed by with Elian quite some time ago. Nearby, but I can’t see it, the vegetation is blocking my view and I have to keep going up.

Suddenly, the slope ends. I’m again into the woods and quickly I reach a junction with a trail I already talked about, but the last time I was coming from Sambuca’s Pass. To avoid doing the same track as that time, I decide to take a detour from the marked way, heading to another place that holds a special place in my heart: Ca’ di Cicci. (Nostalgia time) During one of the summer camp I was talking about, where instead we were residing in a nearby hut (I Diacci, another place I really need to see again), every day a pair of us was equipped with some food and sent to Ca’ di Cicci, with a generic explanation on how to reach it. It was like 15 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday: the fear of getting lost, the planification between us and the final emotion once the hut was seen in the distance; then the night alone inside, with nobody else to watch over us, and the coming back the day after. It was my first adventure of any kind and was really great.

Going back to the hike I reach Ca’ di Cicci in no time and, after replacing a cache, I head to another interesting nearby place.

The next destination is Pian dell’Aiara: this is really an abandoned hamlet, with a lot of houses completely engulfed in brambles. From the map it seems that one of these houses was a church, but I can’t recognize it. At this point I’m about to backtrack, but an old informative map catches my eye: it seems that a nearby path would allow me to go back onto the main trail, but without backtraking; moreover it should bring me to a group of houses, Le Soprane, not currently mapped on OSM. So, to see new places and catch two birds with one stone, I decide to search for this path!

The path is not immediately clear, since is blocked by some fallen trees: with some orientation and the help of my paper map, I’m able to join in it. It’s clear not a lot of people follow this lilttle one: there are many fallen trees and the way is generally dirtier than the marked one… still, the view on my left is great! After a bit I go back into the woods and the two houses are in front of me: Le Soprane. I quickly hide a cache here and I immediately notice that, unfortunately, the path abruptaly ends: I’m not far from the main track I’m trying to reach, but it’s time for some free climbing onto the leaves! In a matter of minutes I’m back on the main trail, being really happy for this whole detour.

I can now go back to my main tour, on an already seen track, nearby Poggio Roncaccio and then, before reaching Cimone della Bastia, I take a right and from here basically all the route is downhill. The landscape opens again in front of me, offering a great view of the surrounding mountains. In a little while I reach Montagnana, an abandoned farmhouse with a great view on the surroundings. I replace the last cache of the day and proceed downhill, towards Campanara.

So I’m heading to the last important place of the route, Campanara: once an abandoned hamlet, today is inhabited by a group of people that decided to have a less stressful life, afar from the cities. I finally reach this little oasis when I understand I will have to play my cards correctly: the trail goes between the houses and there’s a pretty big dog sleeping, occupying the whole of it.

Going back is not an option: I already covered like 16 km and there’s only another possibile path, but it would take me more than 7km to make this extra detour. I also don’t want to surprise the dog: I then start making some noise to wake him up. It takes a while but finally it looks at me: it doesn’t seems very happy and it begins to bark at me, not waiving is tail at all. I begin to sweat and I take the backpack in my hand, ready to use it to parry if needed, when suddenyl two more dogs shows up (!!): one barking angrily while the other runs happily towards me and begins licking. I’m pretty much stucked here, but knowing that the place is inhabited I start yelling and, in a matter of minutes, a person shows up calming down the dogs. I just have the time to take a single shot at the church before going away swiftly.

The last part is a breeze: soon i get onto an asphalted road, that coasting a couple of houses goes downhill up to a little bridge, where I turn right towards the place where I parked the car.

This hike was simply amazing: from here probably my interior travel has began. I don’t know what the future is holding for me (well, to be fair I know because this hike was done 6 months ago) but it bodes really well. I can’t wait.

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