The Mountain Trek
As Bob and I envisioned ourselves living in Verbania, hiking was always in the picture. The train ride into the mountains on Wednesday motivated us to get started. We would hike either Friday or Saturday depending on the weather.
Bob studied the hiking maps, had a plan, and at the last minute called Donato, a professional mountain climber and alpine guide. He’s scaled most of the highest peaks in Italy as well as around the world. So, he’s willing to take four somewhat in shape enthusiastic people into the Alps for a hike–a mountain trek.
We were all a bit nervous that we’d be scaling cliffs, but Bob assured us that Donato understood . He and his girlfriend, Emanuela picked us up at 8:30 Saturday morning and we quickly drove up the zig-zaggy mountain roads to the trailhead. By the time we got there, I thought I was going to vomit. Well, thank goodness for the fresh mountain air. Once I was out of the car, took a few good yoga breaths and started the hike I was feeling fine.
The first part of the hike was through sharply sloped woods. A elderly white bearded man (could have been Santa Claus) appeared from the woods carrying a wicker basket over his shoulder. He was digging wild mushrooms. He just nodded.
As we trekked out of the woods, the trail became more rocky, more grasses and the views began to pop out of the fog. It wasn’t the clearest day, but every-once-in-a-while the fog would clear and the view literally stopped us in our tracks. At points, you had to stop to look or you would fall off the mountain. It was a steady climb up and curious mosses, herbs, flowers and rocks kept my interest. Donato stopped us and pointed out a cross in the distance and explains via Bob (Donato only speaks Italian) that the cross is our goal. We are trekking to the summit–to the cross.
We continued on and passed a small rock building with a scary metal door. Donato opened the door, and explained that it is a winter shelter in case a person gets stuck on the mountain. We peeked inside to see a wood stove, no windows and two wooden twin beds covered in straw. What, no silk sheets and down comforter?
Next we stopped for a quick snack before making the final ascent. Donato leads followed by Bob, me, Nancy, Gary and finally Emanuela. The ascent is steady, grassy and close to straight up, but not a cliff. I think we were following a sheep trail. Bob and I get to the top and the view is mind-blowing. So worth the climb! The fog starts to roll in and within minutes we are in a blanket of fog. Very cool and spooky all at once. If our knowledgeable guide was not with us, I’d be nervous and think we’d be trapped and staying in that dank spidery shelter. One glance at calm Donato and I knew all was fine.
After a photo op we started our one and a half hour descent down the mountain. Now back at the trailhead, Danato and Emanula surprised us with cheese, prosciutto, and wine. Sorry, no gelato. We all sat at the table overwhelmed with the beauty of the mountains and the satisfaction of completing the four hour trek. I can’t wait to do it again before the snow falls. A perfect day!
The Mountain Trek