Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hiking Abruzzo: Scanno -> Opi

This was an amusing one.

We leave after a so-so breakfast expecting a partly cloudy day with no rain. We walk through town and then pick up a marked hiking path that takes us out and along the valley. Serious luxury that we are using a (picture of a) map that has trail numbers that match the numbers on the trails (has not been the case up to this point). Along we go with some decent hiking, a bit of road, past a statue of the pope (well, an old pope), past a few agroturismi, then turning onto a farm road, past the farmhouse with all the mean dogs (they weren't too bad, but that's probably because their mistress was on hand), and then onto a real trail and up the mountainside.

Very nice even climbing in the woods on a very good trail, past big patches of snow eventually, up, up, up. At some point it starts to drizzle, but not on us because we're under the trees. When we come out of the trees, however, the drizzle turns into sleet (WTF? Central Italy, late May, under 2000m, sleet?). On with the gore tex and up some more through the wind-blow sleet. Across a really nice mountain meadow/bowl that was doing its best to look high alpine (maybe like the highlands?) even though it's in central Italy and under 2000m. On we go until we reach a rifugio of sorts (Stazzo del Campo). We let ourselves in so that we can get out the wind for a bit and are very pleasantly surprised by how well-maintained and nice it is.We have a energy bar and rest a bit and then head onwards, through falling snow, across the landscape, past snow fields, towards the pass. It's very difficult to believe that we're in central Italy in late May under 2000m.
over "highland" meadows to the shepherd's hut
 As we approach a snow-filled pass Andrea spots a "wolf or something white" that just went over the pass. Huh... we continue and after a minute or so a group of about ten white sheepdogs cross through the pass and take up station on either side. Huh... If they're alone and guarding sheep, this is going to be interesting. We continue slowly forward, keeping our eyes on the dogs to see how they react. The dogs just sit there and watch us go by, looking bored. Carefully through the pass we go and discover that there are no sheep on the other side. Odd. We continue wonderingly around the bowl that leads to the real pass. No one knows what those dogs were doing, but hey... they didn't mess with us. The path leads around the bowl, but the last 20-30 m are covered with a pretty steep snowfield. We descend some to go around the snow and then climb back up to the pass.

snow fields on the pass (Valico del Campitello (1868 m)
The other side doesn't look alpine at all: lots of trees, little snow, green meadows, kind of like central Italy under 2000m is supposed to look (except for the fact that it's still sleeting/snowing). Down we go, across a meadow and onto a trail in the woods that is a snow chute. There's green to either side, but we are descending on branch and tree-matter covered snow. Down we go, through the rain, at some point the snow stops and we're on a normal path again. Down, down, down until we get to the Rif. Prato Rosso.
down on snow through green woods

Unfortunately, this one is not open, so we find a couple of dry rocks and take advantage of a break in the rain to have a lunch break. A quick lunch break, because the rain starts again. Onward and downward, on nice paths, some road, through changing weather conditions, changing from drizzle to sleet, to hail, to heavy rain, back to drizzle. Not at all what was forecast, but such a train wreck that it ends up being funny instead of irritating or frustrating. Down we go, running into a Belgian day hiker (the first other hiker that we've seen on the trails this entire trip). A bit of difficult path finding, Hennig's suggested route is more or less impassable because of the deep mud, so we stick to one of the other marked trails.

We cross a very nice open plateau, distinguished by the fact that most of the poles serving as trail markers are down (makes finding the trail fun). At some point the trail starts heading more steeply down along a farm road. It's raining hard at this point, so we decide to leave the trail and follow another farm road that leads more directly in the right direction. This is rather adventurous and quite fun and gets us back on the trail we would have ended up on much closer to Opi than what would have otherwise happened. We follow that other trail for a bit until it hits the road and then follow the road the rest of the way into town in the streaming rain.

Luckily for us, the hotel is one of the first buildings we hit, so we can finally get out the weather. Unluckily for us, the hotel restaurant is closed tonight (WTF?), so we're going to have to head back down the hill to the restaurant at its base for dinner. Sucko. Luckily for us Antonio, who runs the hotel, is super nice and both drives us down to the restaurant and picks us back up after we've had a nice meal. Wow!

Amusing aside: the other guests of the hotel, also in the restaurant at the bottom of the hill for dinner, are a group of six Swiss from Basel. Small, small world.


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