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Day 184: Tutto Posto

Croce di Geppe to Passo del Giogo

Distance: 35km


A freezing cold night. But after eating a lot of food yesterday and wearing everything I have, I wasn't feeling especially cold. In fact I had such a wonderfully deep sleep. A rare thing when camping.


Getting out of my sleeping bag and especially packing the dripping wet tent is a different story. Highly unpleasant as my fingers are getting numb. Anyway, eventually I am on my way. Similar to yesterday, trail wise. But unlike yesterday, I feel highly motivated. At least mentally. Physically, well not so much. My body needs some rest. 


My last day on E1 this year. From the German-Danish border well into Italy. While walking, memories keep crossing my mind. Many wonderful places, encouters. It has not always been a walk in the park though. Especially during the last part across Northern Italy, I was struggling finding my motivation at times. 

Time flies and after 10 final, surprisingly demanding kilometers, I reach Passo del Giogo - the end. For now at least. How do I feel you might wonder? Emotionless, really. I guess I am just tired, the sun already low on the horizon. The emotions probably will follow later. As it's getting cold, I quickly continue for another kilometer up Monte Altuzzo, where I am planning to camp - and it is a lovely site to camp. A flat, grassy top and fantastic views. A worthy place for my last night.

As I watch the sun slowly disappearing while eating my porridge with an extra serving of chocolate (somehow I have to celebrate, don't I?), the nice feeling of satisfaction overcomes me. Tutto posto - all good! 

Morning mood
Morning mood
Deserted places like this is something I will remember of my hike across Northern Italy
Deserted places like this is something I will remember of my hike across Northern Italy
This road certainly isn't getting too much attention
This road certainly isn't getting too much attention
WW2 memorial on Passo Futa: More than 30'000 German soldiers are buried here
WW2 memorial on Passo Futa: More than 30'000 German soldiers are buried here
Some nice views every now and then
Some nice views every now and then
Creepy, yet fascinating
Creepy, yet fascinating
Passo del Giogo!
Passo del Giogo!
I made it
I made it
Lovely campspot
Lovely campspot
And a wonderful sunset to end this dsy
And a wonderful sunset to end this dsy
4 Comments

Day 183: Ready To Call It A Thru-hiking Year

Pracchia to Croce di Geppe

Distance: 35km


A single stag kept roaring throughout the night. Yet, overall I got quite a descent sleep.


There's really not much to write about the trail today. Plenty of 4WD and ATV tracks in the first half of the day, proper hiking trails with more Ups and downs than in the morning. Most of the hike is in the forest. Only the last bit leading over a rocky slope, offers some decent views. It's also where I pitch my tent. In fact, I even go a bit off track until I find something that pleases me.


After the last couple of days, which have been a bit like fireworks, today, in contrast, has been a pretty down-to-earth day. Also my body feels like a deflated balloon. No energy left. I felt it especially during the climbs. It was hard work. 

So it fits nicely that, two weeks ago, I made the decision that tomorrow Thursday (maybe Friday if I am too slow) should be my last day on the trail this year.  183 days so far on E1 all together. Hald a year. However, there are other things in life than hiking. In fact I will meet up with a friend in Firenze and do a bit of sightseeing and other stuff that I

missed out on the trail. Like eating my first Gelato in Italy. I know, unbelievable. Isn't it.


But let's not get carried away. Tomorrow's another day. And it's a tough one. 


Very limited views for most of the day
Very limited views for most of the day
No more mountains but trees instead
No more mountains but trees instead
The fountain of Pluto. One of the few springs that actually still have water. Good for me. I will have a warm dinner tonight.
The fountain of Pluto. One of the few springs that actually still have water. Good for me. I will have a warm dinner tonight.
Some views at last
Some views at last
Happy with my spot
Happy with my spot
See you tomorrow
See you tomorrow
0 Comments

Day 182: Libro Aperto - The Open Book

Picnic Area Abetone to Pracchia

Distance: 25km


Despite being rather anxious about today's demanding hike, my sleep was deep and long. No wind, not cold, dry and a flat surface. Perfect condition for a good night's sleep.


Libro Aperto - the name of the first of many mountains I will climb today. It is a steep, long climb. But so early in the morning and with well rested legs, the progress is good. Libro Aperto means the "open book". Apparently, because it looks like an open book. Whatever that means. While climbing I try figuring it out. But it seems I am lacking the imagination. All I see are some horses grazing at the very top. They look wild, without any tags or other markings. It's still too early for a break and I want to keep on going anyway, so that's what I am doing. Down on the other side. It's steep, dangerously steep down over a 5 meter vertical drop. I have to go down backwards because of my backpack. I'd consider this the most difficult part of any thru-hike I have done so far. With legs as rubber I continue once I master the challenge. But the direction seems odd, I check the GPS that saves the day and tells me I missed a V-turn on top of Libro Aperto. So that hole climbing stint was for nothing. Stupid. Annoying. At least I can avoid it and skirt below the summit as I head back to the right side of the peak.


Back on track I follow a ridge for three hours. It's a spectacular walk. Some technical demanding parts but I never feel outside of my comfort zone. The views are fantastic and I would consider this stretch as another of E1. Right up there with some of my favorite stretches in Norway and Northern Sweden. And that means something!


And then there's the weather. It's incredible, how lucky I have been with the weather so far. Since starting E1 two years ago, the weather God has been very kind with me. No exception today. 


Eventually, I leave the ridge and the trails are getting busier. I meet three lovely ladies from Bologna. Together, we chat and walk for 30 minutes before I start my long descent to Pracchia. As I get closer to the treeline, I start feeling a bit melancholic. After three wonderful days in a surprisingly spectacular, mountainous part of the Apennin (I was extremely surprised by how beautiful these mountains are - and I say this as a Swiss, who is spoiled by the Alps) , the trail takes me into the forest again. Gone are the sweeping views, the lovely mountain trails. Did I enjoy the views enough? Did I make the most out of my time on these mountains? I sit down, soak up the scenery for one last time. I look back at what I have achieved today. And now, finally, I think I recognize Libro Aperto! 


As the show must go on, it's then back into the forest. My plan: to camp somewhere before reaching Pracchia. I gamble, ignoring several good spots hoping to find something closer to the village. But there is nothing. I loose. So I continue through the depressing village, feeling exhausted. And there's nothing suitable to camp in sight. Unti the road I am following suddenly stops because of a landslide that must have happened years ago. Luckily there's a narrow path and after the path a flat spot. Directly on the road - thru-hiking style. Perfectly fine to pitch my tent. There's definitely no risk of getting hit by a car. 


On the way to Libro Aperto
On the way to Libro Aperto
High altitude horses
High altitude horses
The view from Libro Aperto
The view from Libro Aperto
The ridge that I am following. The path visible on the left slope.
The ridge that I am following. The path visible on the left slope.
Some technical demanding stretches
Some technical demanding stretches
As I make progress, the ridge flattens. Going is easier.
As I make progress, the ridge flattens. Going is easier.
Until the ridge is slowly fading away
Until the ridge is slowly fading away
E1... Never fails to impress
E1... Never fails to impress
A different view
A different view
A last look over the Apennin. At least for now.
A last look over the Apennin. At least for now.
The Open Book. Maybe... I'll let you decide.
The Open Book. Maybe... I'll let you decide.
Camping on the road. Thru-hiking style.
Camping on the road. Thru-hiking style.
1 Comments

Day 181: Keeping On Going

Bocca di Massa to Picnic Area near Abetone

Distance: 35km


The wind was challenging my tent tonight.  Gusty, from all directions. Sleep? Hardly. At least the wind helped against low temperatures. 

Yet, I am surprised how well my tent was holding up against the wind. Surprised I am as well that I find myself surrounded by fog when I am struggling to pack my tent in the gusty wind.


The clouds soon lift and lead to some wonderful morning light effects. It's fast progress. Up and down, yes, but generally on better tracks than yesterday and not as steep. There is a bit of an airy, exposed ridge walk but other than that straight forward. However, as the clouds increase, I skip Monte Rondenaio. This allows me to reach Abetone today, do resupply and tackle the last mountainous section this year straight away tomorrow. My legs, especially my knees, feel the many vertical meters of the last couple of days. They are not hurting, yet they are getting tired. Still, I am in a good flow at the moment and I feel like keeping on going. Maybe I should take it slower but it's easier said than done. 


After the scenic but windy camp spot yesterday, today's spot is perfectly sheltered, flat and even has a water source. Hopefully, I get some good sleep in order to be fit for the demanding stretch tomorrow. 

Morning mood
Morning mood
Mystic forest
Mystic forest
Sky on fire
Sky on fire
Sun in the morning
Sun in the morning
Clouds later in the day
Clouds later in the day
Lovely little food market
Lovely little food market
Hoping for a good night's sleep
Hoping for a good night's sleep
2 Comments

Day 180: Up High

Bivacco I Ghiaccioni to Bocca di Massa

Distance: 25km


Dinner was finally served at 22:30 (it was well worth the wait). After two glasses of red wine and some strong liquor, I finally made myself comfortable on the bench, were I fell asleep rather quickly.


5 hours of walking, less than 10 kilometers covered. The trails this morning rough and steep, the progress painfully slow.

Especially the climb up to Monte Nuda is so steep I have to stop several times. I use the breaks to pick blueberries, which there are millions of.


After Monte Nuda, the trail and scenery changes. For the better. Much smother, faster tracks and the view... Exquisite. It gets better every day. Again, the air is crisp and clear. I can see all the way to Piz Bernina, home, on the other side of Milan. Quite crazy and a bit emotional.


Thanks to the fast track, Monte Prado, with more than 2000 meters the highest mountain so far in Italy, is reached earlier than expected. As the wind picked up again on the climb, I don't spend too much time up there but rather head down, looking for a spot to pitch my tent. Not easy as there's hardly a spot without wind. Eventually though, I find a lovely spot, still in the sun, not too windy and with a great view. I decide to call it a day. My legs are toast. The last two days have been demanding.


I prepare myself for a cold night. Temperatures just above the freezing point are awaiting me. As I only have my thin sleeping bag, I put on most of the clothes I carry with me. Hoping but not expecting they will keep me warm. 

First pass
First pass
Frozen blueberries
Frozen blueberries
These views
These views
Hills and mountains
Hills and mountains
Wonderful hiking
Wonderful hiking
But not always easy
But not always easy
The view towards Switzerland
The view towards Switzerland
Blueberries...
Blueberries...
High altitude horses
High altitude horses
Highest point on E1 Italy so far
Highest point on E1 Italy so far
Camping with a view
Camping with a view
...
...
Good night
Good night
0 Comments

Day 179: What A Ride

Passo della Cisa to Bivacco I Ghiaccioni

Distance: 30km


Same bus, same driver. But he nearly misses me standing there at the stop in the dark. I wave like a maniac and luckily he finally notices me as he is directly abeam.


At 07:00 sharp, he arrives at Passo Della Cisa and wishes me "Buon Camino" - happy trail.

The weather is surprisingly okay. No wind, no rain as I start into my hiking day. It feels good to be back on track.

Soon enough, the weather changes. First from okay to bad with gale force winds then from bad to worse when rain joins the party. As I climb higher, I start getting uncomfortably cold, I push hard on order to stay warm. Yet, slowly but surely I start worrying about hypothermia once I become completely soaked. Oh the misery. Not often have I suffered like this on E1. I say to myself  "keep moving and everything will be alright" 

At around noon, I approach the ridge, the highlight of the day. However, the wind blows me right back down. It would be plain stupid to continue. So I retreat, follow a shitty but sheltered trail parallel to the ridge. It's where, out of nowhere and only the way it can happen in the mountains, blue sky appears above me. Magical! I take the next link up to the ridge. Still windy as shit but with the sun bearable. With parts of the mountains still covered in clouds, the mood is mystic. Once these remaining clouds evaporate, the views are becoming fantastic and slowly my clothes start drying. The storms must have cleaned the air. Even Corsica's mountains are visible.


Walking the ridge is a big highlight on E1. Despite the wind I thoroughly enjoy this exquisite hike. Demanding but rewarding. Amazing how close misery and happiness can be.


As all good things come to an end, so does the ridge walk. The rest of the day is pretty mediocre on very rough trails. No views, slow progress. My feet tired. More than once I hit roots and rocks. A sign that it's time to finish the hike. After a last crazily steep descent, I reach the hut, that I eyed to spend the night in. After such a day I don't feel like pitching my tent. Being weekend it's full, as expected. But I find a spot on the floor. Good enough.


The fire is going and the four Italian keep on talking about food while they are cooking their dinner (which takes hours. It's now 22:00 and they are still cooking. So Italian). Even though I understand just a fraction it's quite interesting to listen to their conversation. I'm curious how their meal turns out. 

The clouds are lifting
The clouds are lifting
Apennin
Apennin
A highlight of E1
A highlight of E1
It is still windy
It is still windy
The view towards La Spezia
The view towards La Spezia
Lovely ridge ahead
Lovely ridge ahead
Let's tackle it!
Let's tackle it!
The hut
The hut
4 Italians discussing food
4 Italians discussing food
It sure is tasty
It sure is tasty
Let's tackle it
Let's tackle it
Good night!
Good night!
1 Comments

Day 178: Zero Day 2 Pontremoli / Riomaggiore

Second rest day with a side trip to the Cinque Terre region at the Mediterranean. After a good night's sleep, I board a delayed train to La Spezia and on to Riomaggiore. The second train is awfully busy and so is Riomaggiore. It's crawling with tourists but then again, it's a charming little seaside village indeed.


Eventually, I make my way back to Pontremoli. I'm feeling a bit restless. The next stretch on E1 is going to be mountainous, technically challenging as I am heading deeper into the Apennin. Exciting but I also have a lot of respect for this section, especially with the changeable weather that is expecting me. 

All heading for the Cinque Terre region
All heading for the Cinque Terre region
But it's well worth it
But it's well worth it
Relaxing at the beach. No swimming though.
Relaxing at the beach. No swimming though.
But good food
But good food
The train station
The train station
Back to Pontremoli
Back to Pontremoli
1 Comments

Day 177: Zero Day 1 Pontremoli

Seven sharp the bus emerges from the mist. Somehow I doubted it would but luckily I was wrong.


I'm the only passenger all the way to Pontremoli, a lovely medieval village.

As it is pouring I head straight for a cafe. Then at 10:00 I am able to check into my airbnb room, which has everything I need. Internet, plenty of power outlets and a bed.


The rest of the day: sightseeing, resupplying and eating. It continues to bucketting down with the occasional thunder in between. I feel relieved not being up in the mountains. Tomorrow, on my second zero day, I'll head to Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre for a day trip before resuming the trail on Saturday. 


Me, right in the middle
Me, right in the middle
Exploring the town
Exploring the town
I love it
I love it
Rain vs Sun (a brief moment of sunshine on my way back from resupply)
Rain vs Sun (a brief moment of sunshine on my way back from resupply)
Il Centro
Il Centro
1 Comments

Day 176: Wind Of Change

Passo del Lupo to Passo della Cisa

Distance: 35km


At precisely midnight, wind gusts started hitting my tent and the trees behind. Not that I was worried it might damage my tent but they robbed my precious sleep. Windy nights in a tent is never fun for me.


Anyway, also a sleepless night eventually is over and I set off into a damp, foggy and windy morning. It's the first day since the Black Forest that I have a wet hiking day. Crazy how lucky I have been so far on E1 weather wise! 


Inside the beech forest it's dark and my headlamp helps quite a bit. Still, navigating is tricky: the poor visibility makes the markers hard to spot, the leaves on the ground hiding the trail. It takes some effort not to get off track.

Eventually, I pass Zum Zeri, a mini ski field. Even though, it looks like a scene from a horror movie, it's a welcome change. From then on it's mostly along forestry tracks. I don't mind as it needs way less concentration. Still, parts of these tracks are in terrible shape and hard to walk. So not as easy as I initially thought. One short, airy ridge walk, which pops out of the blue, makes a nice exception. Shame there's zero visibility. Then it's back into the forest mostly all the way to Passo della Cisa, the wind staying with me all the way. Especially the last bit is zigzagging without a reason. Tiring, unnecessary after a long day.

As I approach the pass, I look for a place to pitch the tent. Not easy in the wind. Then I spot a little hut with the light on. It says "Capanna Twin" on it. There's a French girl there and I ask her if one can just stay here. Apparently one can, just leave a 20 Euro bill on the table. Electricity, a shower and... Sheltered from the nasty weather. A great deal.


It's only a short 2 minutes walk from the bus stop, where I will catch the bus to Pontremoli for two Zero Days. Firstly, I need to resupply, secondly my legs need a break and thirdly, with the unfavorable weather forecast for the next two days and the scenic stretch up ahead it would be shame to keep on pushing. 

Wayfinding made difficult
Wayfinding made difficult
Finding my way through a rock field
Finding my way through a rock field
Weird to see that in the forest
Weird to see that in the forest
Ski field
Ski field
Mini apples
Mini apples
Nice ridge walk
Nice ridge walk
A bit of rock scrambling. E1 is clearly marked.
A bit of rock scrambling. E1 is clearly marked.
In Norway they were green, in Sweden blue, in Switzerland yellow and here the signs are red.
In Norway they were green, in Sweden blue, in Switzerland yellow and here the signs are red.
Below the clouds
Below the clouds
My hut tonight
My hut tonight
I call it luxury
I call it luxury
2 Comments

Day 175: Norway? New Zealand? Italy!

Near Passo delle Lame to Passo del Lupo (Monte Bertola)

Distance: 40km


Getting up certainly is not getting any easier. Yet, today I have a good motivation: Monte Aiona. With 1701 meters above sea level highest point in Italy so far. And looking at the map, the area up there seems attractive.

And it sure does not disappoint. After a long stretch of beech forest, I emerge from the forest and step into an open, wild landscape. No paths only markings leading the way across the partly rocky, partly grassy plateau of Monte Aiona. It's an immediate Norway flashback and a reminder why I loved hiking the Scandinavian country so much. I take my sweet time, visiting the northern and southern summit. The latter offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean.


No other soul around, I enjoy every minute up there until I start my way down, where it gets busier. Mushroom picking season has started and from experience (from the Engadin), Italians go crazy when it comes to picking mushroom.


I deviate slightly from E1, cutting two corners and leaving out Monte Zatta, which is starting to be covered in clouds and thus would only end up in disappointment.


The second part of the day is completely different to part one. Open dairy country. A New Zealand flashback! The walk is offering good views, despite the clouds, which took over control of the sky. Flatter terrain, swift progress. Progress, which is appreciated as I want to cover as much distance as possible since the weather turns sour tomorrow and will stay like that until Sunday.

Therefore, I decide to walk to Passo della Cisa, where I should arrive on Thursday morning, take the bus to Pontremoli and take a Zero Day on Friday before returning to the trail on Saturday afternoon. Nothing is booked yet but food and batteries are running out. So there's some action required.


Other than that, well, today as I was hiking across the dairy country, it felt like I finally arrived in my hiking mode. I hope the feeling stays. It took me awhile but good things take time. 

On the way up
On the way up
Happy me reaching the top
Happy me reaching the top
Spectacular views
Spectacular views
Looking south
Looking south
Time for a snack
Time for a snack
One last look
One last look
Nice chapel but it's the sign on the left that turns me on
Nice chapel but it's the sign on the left that turns me on
Not wild horses
Not wild horses
Looking back at Monte Aione
Looking back at Monte Aione
Part two of the day. Dairy Country.
Part two of the day. Dairy Country.
Here they are
Here they are
Special evening light
Special evening light
My campspots right of the turbines
My campspots right of the turbines
Good views
Good views
Good food
Good food
1 Comments

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