Friday, 12 March 2021

Germany to Italy: Cosenza to Aspromente National Park

I had been very doubtful whether it was a good idea to continue despite rising Corona numbers, even on my way to the train station in Cosenza I made some last minute calls to friends back in Germany to discuss the topic. But like a confirmation of my decision to hike on I found all the little things in shops that had been missing: I had managed to loose all five bandanas I had bought four months ago in Ulm and here I found a new (and last one for this trip) plus a mini size tube of tooth paste. Then off I went to Sila National Park that looked a lot more like Germany than Southern Italy. It was very windy up on the mountain tops but I found a lovely sheltered campsite with 4G cell phone reception! 

Next evening I had more problems: Right before sunset all trail markers disappeared and my GPS brought me to a river crossing in a meadow exactly when it started to rain. The cows watched me gleefully when I took off my shoes and socks to ford the river. It took me a while to find a decent spot and had to put in ear plugs because a dog was barking all night long on a nearby farm.

I had camped close to Lago Ampollino and everything was frozen over in the morning - but what a beautiful sunrise over the lake! Sila National Park turned out to be cow heaven with huge meadows. Cows here have scary long horns but the completely ignored me. I still kept a distance when I sat down for lunch and drying my frozen over tent. 

I hiked three days across Sila encountering free range horses and a modern sanctuary dedicated to Mary - and of course it started to rain again. I fled into a hotel where I was delighted to find out that the restaurant was closed to the public but open for guests! I had wonderful pasta, a glass of wine and a chat with the friendly owner who spoke fluent Spanish because he had worked on Mallorca before.

He even gave me all the leftovers from the breakfast buffet in the morning and an umbrella. I definitely needed the last one because it continued to rain. That day turned out to be one of the worst of the entire trip. Sentiero Italia brought me to a huge wind park where nobody had been hiking through for several years! The trail was completely overgrown, trees had fallen onto it and worst: Along a steep sandy slope it had almost completely eroded away. After climbing over dozens of blow downs and under blackberry bushes I had to realize that maybe mountain goats could safely pass this slope but definitely me. I had to turn around, but unfortunately my map told me that the only way around would involve a 30 km detour on roads ... To make things even more frustrating I could see the trail markers on the slope above me! Because the sun was already setting I needed a camp site quickly - and that could only be found on top of the ridge next to the windpark. With courage born of despair and decided to climb up through a jungle of blow downs and black berries. 

I managed to get up to the ridge right before it got completely dark and even found a campsite! I was so exhausted that I fell asleep quickly despite the noisy rotors in the wind park. But this little adventure had an aftermath next morning: I took me more than an hour to operate all the spikes and thorns out of my limbs ...
Luckily no overgrown trail the next day, but plenty of kaki and pomegrate trees! And this sheep dogs were quite tame and only guarding their herd. 
I indulged in another hotel room in San Bruno where I suddenly missed my passport in the evening. I remembered having shown it at check in, but had the owner handed it back to me or had I lost it? I was lucky: The owner had kept it overnight - in an unlocked drawer in the unlocked hotel reception ...

1 comment:

SparkInList said...

Very informative, I really enjoyed reading it.
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