Thursday, August 9, 2018

July in the Apennines



This July the weather in the Tosco Emilian Apennines has been terrible, with a thunderstorm nearly every day. I managed to fit in a couple of hikes up there this month. Both of which were dogged by less than ideal conditions.

My first hike was an old classic for me. I started at Prato Spilla above Parma and followed the “Crinale” as far as the “Fonte del Vescovo”, a lovely source of fresh cold water; a pleasure in the hot summer up here.

The weather was nice to start of with, but soon turned overcast, taking much of the beauty out of this dramatic landscape. So, I plodded along enjoying the exercise and fresh air. 
Climbing up to the Crinale. Prato Spilla,PR

Lago Martini. Parco cento Laghi PR

Monte Bragalata, parco cento Laghi, PR

Parco cento Laghi, PR

Towards Monte Sillara, PR

Towards Monte Sillara,PR

Parco Cento Laghi, PR
At midday I was at the spring and stopped for lunch after un uneventful stint. The sun had come out again and it was time to head back, this time dropping down to the lakes. I soon met up with a shepherd and his flock, he told me it would rain at four, the weather forecast had said five. Guess who was right?

Lago Bicchire, Parco cento Laghi, PR

Rocca Pumacciolo

Rocca Pumacciolo

Rocca Piumacciolo

Parco cento Laghi,PR

Shepherd and his flock, Parco cento Laghi,PR

Parco cento Laghi PR

Parco cento Laghi, PR


The seems to be a return to sheep farming up in the high mountains. Each year I meet more flocks of sheep on my walks. The sheep are used to make Pecorino Cheese. As well as a sheepdog, a large Maremmano dog was on hand to guard against wolves.

Parco cento Laghi,PR

Back towards Monte Sillara,PR

Monte Sillara,PR

Monte Sillara,PR

Parco cento Laghi,PR
As I climbed the steep assent of Monte Sillara I could see a nice storm was brewing. Looking from below it looks rather daunting, but I find some of these very steep climbs are easier than a long gradual climb. By the time I got down to lake Sillara it had started to rain. Fortunately, it did not last long and then the light became interesting for photography.
Lago Sillara,PR

Lago Sillara,PR

Lago Sillara,PR

Lago Sillara,PR

Lago Sillara,PR

Laghi Grotta,PR 

Laghi grotta,PR

Laghi Grotta,PR

Parco cento Laghi,PR


Above prato Spilla,PR

Above prato Spilla, PR
By the time I got back to Prato Spilla it had turned into a nice evening.

My second hike had the highest mountain in the Tosco Emilian Apennines as my objective. I was undecided right from the start where my starting point would be. I settled on the more ambitious solution of Abetone, just over the border into Tuscany.
Above Abetone,

Above Abetone

Looking down to Abetoneia


This was a hike where an out of date map and map contours caused me problems.

The first stint up to Libero Aperto (Open Book)  a pass that looks like , yes, an open book was along a footpath I had done several times. The second stint to Monte Cimone looked easy on the map but was more difficult than it looked. 
Towards Monte Cimone,MO

Near Monte Cimone, MO

Near Monte Cimone,MO

Towards Monte Cimone,MO

Monte Cimone,MO
At first the often exposed but level footpath made it easy going. The are some bits where it is better not to look down. I had an interesting encounter with a group of horses grazing perilously on the mountainside.
Near Cimone,MO

Near Cimone,MO
All along the way Monte Cimone, was before me, getting ever closer.

Just under the mountain the ridge path dropped down steeply, this did not seem to be the case on the map. This meant a tough climb up to the top of Monte Cimone. I was quite exhausted when I reached the top.

Mont Cimone enjoys unparalleled views of a large area of Northern Italy. This made it a great place to build a NATO radar and telecommunications base. In the Cold War the top of the mountain was off limits. It is mostly used as a weather station now. After being emerged in a wilderness it is quite strange and unnerving to see the assorted masts and buildings of the base. 
Monte Cimone,MO

Monte Cimone,MO
The sides of the mountain are quite steep, so a lift shaft was excavated in the mountain to take the operatives up and down. There are probably lots of other interesting and secret things buried away in the mountain.

The farthest point of my walk was to be Lago Ninfa a picturesque lake with a good restaurant. After a hairy and difficult decent where an “off the footpath” piece I did turned into a bit of a nightmare, I finally got to the restaurant for a late lunch.
Lago Ninfa,MO
Being a hot day, I washed the Venison and Polenta down with a couple of nice cold beers. Refreshed it was time to retrace my steps taking a footpath that I had seen on the outward leg, but did not exist on my map. It avoided climbing Cimone again. I came across another flock of sheep and a newly born lamb that lay exhausted on the path. 
Aloh the phantom footpath below Monte Cimone,MO

Below Monte Cimone,MO

Below Monte Cimone,MO

Monte Cimone fades into the distance,MO

Libro Aperto,MO

Litchen

Libro Aperto,MO

An exposed stretch of path near Libro Aperto,MO
Joining the main footpath, it was now a race to get back to the car whilst it was still daylight. As usual I had miscalculated my timing, and I got back to the car at nine just as the light was fading. I had been hiking twelve hours.