It’s another overcast day, but not raining. In other words, not many views to be seen but it’s perfect for hiking! We had some help to get started, we took a minibus to the trail head at around 1500m (the village is at 1200m).
I don’t know what happened overnight, but my knees are feeling great and I was actually able to keep up with the guide, not sure if it was because he was going slower than before, or because the trail wasn’t quite as steep as yesterday. Probably both.
I also made a revision in my photography gear. Now I just had the A7 with the 24-240mm lens, it’s a relatively heavy combo but lighter than carrying two cameras, especially when I’m only able to use one!
When we got to Rifugio Barba Ferrero for lunch (no polenta!), I thought we were at the halfway point for the hike. But it turned out that people wanted to go higher yet, and I made a brave effort to keep up. But the rifugio is at 2300m and by the time I got to 2500m, my legs were starting to protest heavily. I could only go up about 10m and then I needed to stop for a moment. Rinse and repeat. I was checking my watch for the altitude and when it showed that I had gained 1200m, I stopped. I knew that the group would come back down the same way so I now I just needed to wait, which finally gave me an opportunity to shoot the spiniest thistle that I’ve been seeing everywhere. But as for my difficulties with going up… I can’t decide if the altitude is already giving me problems, or if it was the fact that I had already gained over 1000m and I was just simply getting tired. Distances, by the way, are not given in kilometres – they are given in altitude. The distance is just simply not relevant here!
Going back down to the rifugio was not a problem, energy-wise. With my knees feeling ok, the only thing that limits my speed going down is the amount of risk I’m willing to take. It’s steep, in case I haven’t already mentioned it. 😉
We had another break at the rifugio and then it was all the way back down to the village, which means that today’s descent was 300m more than ascent. The descent gave me a new reality check. The people in front of me were walking, but in order to keep up with them, I needed to take a few running steps every time I got a chance. As soon as it got technical (high steps, rocky), I got behind. I have no idea how they do it… I had already blown all my security margins and I was really going faster I ever thought I could go on a trail like that, and I just simply didn’t stand a chance of keeping up.
You may be wondering why I booked myself on a trip which clearly seems to be above my condition and skill level. I didn’t – I booked myself on a trip which was supposed to be perfect for me. I even asked Pathfinder Travels to be sure. But the truth is that I’m always hiking alone so I didn’t actually have any idea how I compare with other people. I can go fast at times, but I can also stop when I feel like it, I can look at the scenery and I can take pictures. But stopping is just not a thing on this trip. You get a couple of minutes of break every hour, which is the recommended schedule. A few deep breaths, sips of water, and then you’re on the move again. I’ve never worked as hard as I’ve done on this vacation!
But having said that… it may be hard, but I’m doing it. And I’m starting to feel a bit proud of myself for going beyond what I thought were my limits!
- Today’s ascent: 1230m
- Highest altitude: 2654m