Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hiking Abruzzo: Caramanico Terma -> Pacentro

The forecast calls for rain pretty much all day and chances of thunderstorms in the afternoon/evening. After some discussion and evaluation of alternatives, we opt to shorten the day by taking a bus to cover the first two hours of the trip. The other group staying at our hotel is wimping out entirely and doing bus/train to skip the whole day. We feel like good hikers, less like fair-weather hikers than usual, and set out.

After getting some bread, we hop on the bus to St Eufemia and head up into the clouds. It's not raining, but there is definitely high humidity when walking in a cloud. ;-) Fortunately, the path takes us up out of town, so we're warm pretty quickly. Out of town, along mule paths for a bit, across a river, and then on a nice path between two rows of trees and up to the road outside of Roccacaramanico. Through the very cute and mostly restored town, up the stairs past the chapel and then out of town on a marked hiking path. The markings don't stop us from taking the wrong path at the first fork, but we realize our mistake after a couple minutes and head back to go the right way.
through foggy Roccacaramanico
Up we go, along the nicely marked path, up, up, enjoying the views of cloud, looking for the fork that should appear after 15 minutes. After 30 minutes it still hasn't appeared, so we figure we missed it. The next fork has red-white markings to the right (uphill) and orange straight ahead and down. We believe that at the fork we're supposed to be looking for the markings are both red-white, so we turn up hill. After some climbing and later some zigzags, we realize we're on the wrong path. Rather than turning back, we indulge our stubborn, optimistic sides and set off on something that could be a lesser-used path. After a bit more climbing and traversing, it becomes clear that we're on an animal path. We continue... it's going in the right direction and we're stubborn/optimistic. After a while, some more map consultation, and the second or third vanishing of the animal path, we decide to head straight up hill for 100 vertical meters or so until we hit a crossing path that's way higher than we intended to be. But, hey, it's going in the right direction. We turn up steeply through the wet leaves and soggy undergrowth for what feels like a long time until we reach the marked path. Yay! It's suddenly really easy to make forward progress!

On we go, through the clouds and almost rain, under the forest where whenever the wind blows it seems like it's actively raining. We do a quick water break in a clearing and then head on. At a crossing we decide to skip the pass (not much point in going for the views when everything's in a cloud) and head straight down to Pacentro. Down we go...

After a bit we're out of the woods and would have great views if we weren't in a cloud. After more descending we emerge from the cloud and can see the other side of the valley. At some point we actually see the sun, so we immediately stop for a lunch break. Nice! Sun! Wow! Continuing on, the sun goes away, but we remain out of the clouds and the view down the valley opens up.
some views down the valley
A ways outside of town, we start hearing thunder and pick up our pace. Well, kind of. There are still pictures to be taken. The rain and thunder are seriously threatening as we enter town and quickly find our way down to our B&B. The rain starts for real within 30 seconds of us ringing the doorbell. Luckily, some kind neighbor has seen us and fetches a caretaker to let us in. ooof! timing! The usual: shower, nap, games, dinner, sleep.
Town is lively, but somewhat dampened by the rain. Sharing the B&B with two Americans visiting her family's old hometown.


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