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Monday, 23 May 2011

Mount Pizzocolo-I made it

After last weeks unsuccessful attempt to reach the top of the mountain that offers a 360degree lake view, plus stunning views across to the Apennines and the Alps, I was determined to find a path to the top.

I don't know whether it because I'm a bit of an amateur and don't understand how to follow the guide books, or I'm just stupid, or that the guide books are written for people who already know the way, but I seem to struggle to follow them. Anyway, on Friday, in 27 degree heat, with my little bag containing, bottle of water, mini picnic, camera, and two phones, I set off to find sentieri 11, which would take me to the top of Pizzocolo via the Malga Valley.

I drove to where the guidebook guided me and was pleasantly surprised to find a signpost, which did in fact point to Mount Pizzocolo, via Malga Valle, on route 11. I parked up and set off. The first part of the walk was along a concreted road, which then became a dirt track, with concreted over some of the steeper parts. I had been walking for about 30mins and was beginning to wonder whether I would be following this concreted dirt track all the way to the top. Then I came to another place to where it was possible to park the car and thought maybe I had parked in the wrong place and this was where the walk began.

I followed the red and white marker, although it no longer had names or numbers, so I just hoped I was following the correct route and was again pleasantly surprised. The route took me up a fairly steep track, through some very pretty woodland, lots of flowers and rock formations, it was a bit like a set out of Lord of the Rings, it changed all the time, sometimes dense, sometimes open, sometimes rocks, sometimes just trees. I walked for about an hour then finally came out of the woods and arrived at an old building. I could see the top of the mountain, but I couldn't see the path anymore, so I assumed you just had to climb the last bit.

It wasn't really a climb, but then it wasn't a walk, I sort of had to pull myself up on some rocks in places, in places it was easy enough not to use my hands. I must admit I was a bit worried about getting back down. I was just getting a bit concerned that I was going to maybe give up and go back down, when I came over a rock and was on a footpath. I thought this a bit strange, I was worried, but secretly hoping that I had made an error and there had been a path I could have taken, although I knew there were other routes up and this path just could have been from somewhere totally different. As I clambered on to the footpath I was right next to a hut, with a bench outside at which sat four Italians. I asked in my Italian, which included hand signals for the words I didn't know, like climbing, if the path led back down to the building. "si, si sentieri 11".

I had cocked up but was very relieved that I wouldn't have to climb back down. The Italians laughed when I told them I had climbed the last bit and indicated where I'd come up. "Sbagliato" they said, sort of laughing, which meens "you went wrong". They asked if I was Austrian, "No, sono inglese" I replied, indicating my vest, shorts and trainers, with my little handbag. They were all dressed appropriately in their mountain hiking clothes, boots and ruck sacks, they laughed, and agreed "of course, inglese". They made a few remarks about Barcelona beating Manchester, I agreed and said that I hoped so too, then carried on to the very, very top.

It was a shame that it wasn't a very clear day, so the views weren't what they could have been, but they were still amazing. I sat and ate my little picnic, Salami, cheese, salad and bread, at least my eating habits are italian. I meditated for a while, breathed in the fresh mountain air, took in the wonder (and lots of photos), then after about 40 mins I set off back down. The italians were still sat at the table and the reassured me that the path would take me where I wanted to go, which it did, so I enjoyed the walk down, satisfied at my achievement......I can't wait to do it again on a clear day.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Walk Up Mount Pizzocolo

"Due to its position in the Lake Garda hinterland, Mount Pizzocolo is an excellent observation point for viewing the entire lake. The 360 degree panorama encompasses not only the lake, but also the Alps (as far as Mount Rosa) and the Apennines" Brescian Trails, Hikiing in the Privince of Brescia.

After reading this I was very keen to make this my next walk, to drag Mari-lyn on. One of the starting positions was also very close to Hotel Colomber, which is my favourite place for eating Spiedo.

Spiedo being a Brescian dish where different meats, including various cuts of rabbit, pork, chicken and little birds, are skewered with slices of potato and sage leaves in between the meats, salted and drizzled with butter, as they cook slowly on the revolving spit. It is usually served with polenta and a jug of the juices, from the meats, butter and sage......squisito.

It's perfect for Sunday lunch and as I say, the Hotel Colomber is my favourite place to eat it. It's position in the village of St Michele, which is in the mountains above Gardone, is tranquil and very beautiful. There is a hangliding and parascending school next door, so you can let your lunch go down, relaxing in the grass and watching the brightly coloured shutes and wings, glide gently down from the top of the mountain and land in the field next door.

Anyway, back to the walk, I knew that after a few hours of hard walking, I would be able to refresh myself with an ice cold birra Moretti, from the hotel bar.

After walking for only ten minutes, I must admit I was almost ready to give up. The path we followed was up a very steep gully, in quite a dense woods. The leaves and twig were calf deep, which made climbing even more difficult, to make matters worse the empty chesnut shells were pricking me through my trainers, poor Mari-lyn had chosen walking sandals, so it was a bit like torture for her. Still we perservered and after about 30 mins we'd gone too far to go back, we just hoped the terrain would change soon. Then we came to a fork and didn't know which way to go.

I left Mari-lyn at the fork and set off to explore one direction, which of course turned out to be the wrong way, so we took the other path. Then after a few minutes I discovered I'd lost my sunglasses, which I loved so I had to go back and look. It was going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack they wre a browny greeny colour, just like the leaves. Mari-lyn waited at the fork while I checked back. It was worse going down than it had been going up. I ended going all the way back to the car, no luck, then I had to make my way back up the difficult path. Mari-lyn had gotten bored waiting and I met her half way back up. Luckily for me she did get bored, as she found my sunglasses, but she'd had enough of the torture and wasn't prepared to go back up, she went back to the hotel while I set off back up.

As luck would have it the terrain changed just a hundred yards from where I'd discovered I'd lost my sunglasses, which was nice, but a shame as if we'd gotten to there together I'm sure Mari-lyn would have continued. I'd promised her that I would only be a couple of hours and so wasn't sure I would get to the top, and even if I did, I wouldn't have much time to enjoy the views and rest after the climb.

It was steep, but through some nice woodland paths, lots of mountain flowers and strange sounding birds above my head. If I wasn't going to reach the top I wanted to at least reach somewhere that I could either see the top, or see some views. As it happened, when I did reach some openings in the trees, the views weren't too good as it was one of those days when the mist hangs quite heavy over the lake. I reached a point where I could finally see the top, I'd gone about fifteen minutes over the time I gave myself so thought I'd better turn back. It was a shame as I think I was only forty minutes from the top, if only I hadn't dropped my sunnys. I ran virtually all the way back down, scratching my shins and twisting my ankles, but I arrived back exactly on time, and the two beers cold beers were very welcome.

There are a few other routes up to the top of mount pizzocolo, so next time I will try one of those.