Friday, September 14, 2012

Monte d'Oro

Distance: 17km, altitude at start: 920m, altitude at end: 920m, highest point: 2389m.

Yet another summit bid is the plan for the day, after hearing about the great view Matthew, Andrew and Paul told me about. It's a clear sky outside. You can't see the summit from Vizzavona, but it's up there waiting for me.

The path between the woods just above Vizzavona starts to feel familiar now, for a short while. Then there is a sign pointing the way up towards the top and the Bergerie de Puzzatelli and I'm lured away from the known paths. The path upwards alternates between a small trail and tractor tracks through the woods. Through small gaps between the trees I can look down at the railway station and Hôtel I Lariccia. On the other side of the valley the GR20 south lies beckoning.

Vizzavona seen from above, on my way up towards Monte d'Oro through the forest. Hôtel I Lariccia to the left in the picture.

I'm drifting up by the mountainside through the forest, in a race against the clouds. The clear sky is on the wane; from the east the weather gods are leading a massive cloud attack. The ruins of the Bergerie de Puzzatelli emerge from a clearing in the woods, overgrown. Above, the mist is sealing the peaks inside the clouds. A small slice of blue in the clouds gives me a little hope. Below the valley has disappeared in the clouds. A plane long away sounds like thunder.

Clouds drifting up the mountain, just like me, on my way up La Scala.

Above me lies the steep ascent of La Scala. There is something in me asking why I don't turn back. The odds of seeing anything at the summit can't be said to be very good at the moment. The truth is, well, that I'm quite stubborn. Above La Scala I come up to a windswept little meadow, a lonely little sign marked with 'Source' seems oddly out of time. The clouds are drifting through the grass; the trail disappears up into the grey sea. I stop for a rest and enjoy the view, which doesn't exist. The wind is sour.

A windswept meadow, with a sign for a water source nearby. Mist hides the peak above.

And then I also disappear into the layers of clouds, along with the trail. Follows the yellow waymarks upwards and upwards, it's much steeper now. After a while it's so steep that it starts to be clear to me that I've started on the last climb up to the summit of Monte d'Oro. The climb up is quite simple. I come up deep inside the ocean of fog, a grey sea as far as you can see (which is of course not far at all).

The summit of Monte d'Oro enclosed in the clouds. A grey sea on all sides.

Admiring, I can conclude that me and Monte d'Oro are besieged on all sides by the clouds. The wind is now quite sour and it's a little bit cold. It was good that I lured myself to hike up here I think and smiles to the weather gods. At least I've been to the summit (although I can't be too sure because of the fog, I'm pretty confident that it is). Making my way down again, I take one last look up towards the summit after coming down from the part you need to climb. The grey layer has a small tint of blue.

A revelation appears when the layers of clouds open up and the contours of the landscape behind emerge.

I climb up again. And takes a deep breath. It's still grey all around. I sit down on a rock to relax a little bit. And then the layers of clouds open up. Slowly, very slowly, but surely contours appears from behind the mist and the landscape that has been hidden from me appears through the clouds. Like a revelation. It almost cannot be more beautiful than where I'm standing and seeing the valleys, woods and the mountainsides to the north of the summit appear beneath me. Spots of blue sky emerge, peaks stretches to the heavens in the horizon. It is an indescribable feeling standing there watching.

View from Monte d'Oro.

To the south however, are the clouds still just as dense as before. I'm at a divide in my little world at the moment. I have to make a choice after climbing down from the summit again. Either I go back to Vizzavona from where I went up from, or go over to Bocca Murratello and then follow the GR20 again back to Vizzavona. I opt for the latter choice, even though I have to go through the Cascades des Anglais for the third time.

The clouds lie like ocean waves against the ridge beneath the summit.

From here the trail goes on the south side of the ridge and that means that I'm again more exposed to the clouds, they come like waves against the mountainside. The fog makes it hard to find the yellow markers at some point; some of them appear just like the moss on the rocks. Any trail isn't possible to spot between the stones. However, I choose the correct way and emerge again on the top of the ridge with a great view down towards l'Onda and further towards Petra Piana.

View from d'Oro down towards the little meadow I passed on my way up.

Bocca di Porco.

When I'm back at the GR20 again, I can see the summit of Monte d'Oro almost clear of clouds at the top. Wanderers appear again. Down by the Cascades des Anglais everything is like before. I was thinking maybe to start on the southern part after returning from Monte d'Oro, but I feel the time has run out on me. E Capanelle and the GR20 south will have to wait to tomorrow. So, I check back in at the hotel, this time I receive a blue key. It's quiet in Vizzavona in the evening. It's omelet as a starter at the dinner again.

I go to bed after having a magnificent hike behind me. For many it probably would have been better with a clear sky at the top, but for me the revelation I got was fantastic. And just let us call it that, a revelation, without making it religious of any kind.

View from Bocca di Porco down towards Refuge de l'Onda and further on towards Refuge de Petra Piana. Further behind Paglia Orba and Monte Cinto lies towering in the horizon.

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