8 hours until I will board a local train to Zurich. I just came out of the shower. Probably the last one for at least 10 days. As always before embarking on a new adventure, a certain tension becomes noticeable. The psychological and physiological challenge, the unknown,... It's always the same,uncomfortable feeling. I don't think I will ever get used to it.
In Zurich, I will catch a Flixbus to Florence and then 2 other overland busses to Passo del Giogo. If everything goes according to plan, I should be back on the trail tomorrow Monday before lunch time.
If... I'm not very confident I'll be making it there on time. Maybe I should give the Italian public transport system a bit more credit. But I am realistic.
Despite reading through trail notes and checking maps, I honestly still don't know what exactly to expect. How well marked and maintained will the tracks be? Do they even exist? What about animals, like wild dogs, bears, ticks, water sources? The snow situation in the Abruzzo mountains? Many open questions... Also in regards of the recent floodings just northeast of where I will be walking.
Luckily, I was able to gather some hiking experience in the Appenine last autumn. Still, as I make my way down south, still following the Appenine (sometimes along E1, sometimes along Sentiero Italia), I'm quite certain that the characteristics of the hike will keep changing.
For this stage, I have not set a goal. It's a rather quick stage though as I have to be back at work early July. That leaves me a bit more than a month to walk. 30 kilometers a day seem realistic. Add 2 maybe 3 zero days and you'll end up with 1000 kilometers. Just a rough estimate. The many unknowns... It would take be down somewhere slightly northeast abeam Naples and leave me with another 1000-1500 kilometers to Sicily. But that's the future. Thinking too much about it doesn't really help my tension.
For now, I'll enjoy the sunny and mild Sunday afternoon as good as I can, maybe watching a movie, and then eventually hit the road to Italy later tonight.