Torrente Zavianni to Bivacco Poggio
A quiet night on the river and a good sleep. The highlight: Elon Musks satellites forming a long glittering chain on the sky. First time I see them!
Once more we start early, following the river bed to Villafranca, where it is time to say goodbye to Maria. She is heading home to Switzerland from here. Since I am not good at goodbyes, it's quite an emotional affair. As a hard core solo hiker, the last days have been challenging. However, I very much enjoyed the experience and the great company of Maria. Thank you joining me!
I leave her at the bus station. I want to have a closer look at Etna, so I start climbing its northern slope. Not all the way but up to 1900 meters. The beginning of the climb is tough and somehow I manage to get lost, adding some kilometers. Initially, there's a road and a hiking trail. The former seems to be popular with motor bikers. They use the road as their race track, making the road super dangerous to walk. So I opt for the hiking trail. As I get closer to a refugio where I turn east and the road turns west, I spot a biker lying on his back besides the road. He must have hugged the wall. It's not looking good. His buddies are there. Still, I offer my help, which they decline. So I continue, leaving the road and follow the Pista Alto Montana. A wide, sandy and gravelly road leading through forest and lava fields. Super nice to walk, super busy in the beginning. I share it with hikers, bikers and even a Lama trekking group. As I carry on, the track gets more quiet. Clouds were rolling in during the day, engulfing the top of Etna. Yet, the views down the valley are lovely.
At Bivacco Poggio, I decide to call it a day. The cute little two-bunk hut will be my home for tonight. Being at 1900 meters I expect it to be a pleasantly cool night with hopefully another good night sleep.