Tour: Premosello-Chiovenda –> Agriturismo Valle Loana (close to Malesco)
After a 16h bus ride to Milano and another 2h journey on a hot and crowded train, we finally arrived in Premosello-Chiovenda which is one of the possible starting points into Val Grande. The clouds already hung low and heavy on the mountain tops, reminding me of tropical regions rather than the Italian Alps. We were both super exhausted which is why we decided to spend the night in a local B&B. That night, the thunderstorms raged violently for hours and we were glad to have a proper roof over our heads. The next morning, however, we couldn’t wait any longer. The forecast had predicted bad weather for the next three days but since we had appropriate gear and experience, we decided to start our trek despite the rain. We then hitchhiked to Colorro, the last small village before Val Grande’s borders.
And here’s the odd thing about trekking: It usually requires a decent chunk of work beforehand (researching, planning, booking, shopping, packing, …) but once you’re at the beginning of your trail, you set foot on it and your duties immediately shrink to the very basics. And the main duty of course is to walk. One step, two steps, three steps. And 5minutes later you look back and the forest has already swallowed all signs of civilization. I love them, those first few minutes on the trail, they are magic and smell of adventure. Less magic was the sobering fact that we were walking right into a storm.
Stunning views and clear blue skies? Nope, fog and drizzle welcomed us to Val Grande. Plus, we lost the (no longer marked) path after a few hours and even compass and map didn’t really help us. First, we tried a steep descent which stopped at an insurmountable gorge; then, we went up the slimy and wet mountainside, constantly losing our grip and balance on muddy, wet grass and loose stones. The thunder became louder and soon we were right in the eye of the storm. Not funny, trust me. I urged Sebastian to go back the 1km or so to the few ruins (A. la Colma) we had walked past before. Surely, they would give us more protection than the naked mountain flank. And luckily, one of the hut’s roofs was still (almost) intact and its door open. It must have been a very basic shelter for a shepherd or maybe only for his livestock but trust me, it felt like paradise to us. We built a hearth and a “bed” and spend an overall comfortable night in that shack – accompanied by enormous spiders, booming thunder and occasional raindrops through the leaking roof.
“Waky, waky, birthday-boy!” Yip, on his 28th birthday, Sebastian woke up in a bloody sheep pen. But I’m not lying when I say that he didn’t mind it a bit. In fact, I doubt his mood could have been any better. After all, we had Haribo Smurfs (instead of a birthday cake) for breakfast! The fog had cleared a little and we were able to orientate ourselves and find the track again. Off we went – only to get slapped right in the face by the next storm around noon. We fought our way up to the refuge (Alpe della Colma) which was located directly on a ridge 1,726m above sealevel – providing an awesome location but literally no protection from the slashing rain and icy winds. After what seemed like an eternity of muttered curses we finally arrived there soaked to our bones and empty of ideas for new swearwords.
The sheep pen from the night before had already felt like paradise so the Alpe della Colma was mind-blowing! While I enjoyed the heat of the fire, Sebastian was on a mission: He carved the whole, long blog address in his walking stick (www.feedingfernweh.wordpress.com – just one more reason to host it professionally soon…)! Bless him. Once the storm had passed, we were endowed with a truly breath-taking view. And the delicious cherry on top was that we had the whole hut and probably the whole bloody mountain all to ourselves. What a treat!!! But see for yourself…
The next morning, we woke up refreshed and motivated and the weather looked promising. We set off early to avoid the rather late occurring thunderstorms and proceeded quickly. Nonetheless, the next storm was on us around noon and we took shelter in another refuge (A. in la Piana). The hut was nice enough, yet, we didn’t feel like we had walked enough that day. So, we kept going to the next shelter (A.Scaredi) after the worst rain had passed. We made it there safely and spend a jolly evening with two other, very nice German hikers (if you’re reading this right now – hi, Eva and Merlin!). However, another species outnumbered us by far: Mice! These rodents are no rarity in the huts, so make sure to store your food properly (in the provided boxes or tied in bags to the beams). The little, rustling monsters kept us awake for a good part of the night… But all this seemed forgotten when we woke up to glaring SUNSHINE the next morning! No way. We would have loved to climb up the next summit then and there but needed to hike down into the next valley to charge our camera (note to ourselves: when you borrow equipment, do check the cable exits beforehand….). So by day 4, we had already crossed the national park once.
Luckily, we did not have to go all the way to Malesco, but could stop at a restaurant which was still located inside the park. And the “Agriturismo Valle Loana” can be warmly recommended! I guess we must have looked like two starving wildlings because they fed us true hulk portions of polenta, cheese, eggs and pasta. It’s crazy how only 3 days on the trail make you appreciate the little pleasures in life – a warm and dry place to sleep, a crackling bonfire, a steaming meal in front of you. And then, when you’re back in civilization, the mere smell of coffee makes you drool like a Wookie in heat. On the climb back up into the mountains we were close to vomiting because we were so stuffed. Or maybe the additional treats (cheese, mainly) weight us down, who knows…
Part 2 and 3 of our adventure will follow this week. Plus, we are currently learning the ropes of Adobe Premiere to improve our next video! So stay tuned… 🙂