1. Mama B told me that we'd up at 7am the next morning. An early start = a big hike.
2. Papa M went hunting in the cupboards around the house after dinner. He eventually found what he was looking for - three torches and a head lamp. I decided that must mean we were coming back late.
And I was right on both accounts.
Fortunately Mama B let us three girls sleep in until 7.30am. She comes in to wake us up every morning, and every morning I'm already awake - though on this day it was not the case!
So we set out early that morning on a route that we'd taken before. (Oh yeah, we went in the jeep - and I remembered to get a photo!)
When we reached the fork in the path, where last time we'd gone left, this time we went right. After about 45 minutes or so hiking we hit the first stop: a bar-restaurant at Lago Muffe.
We paused for a 15 minute break and left some extra layers in a bag there, as we'd be stopping there for dinner before we finished our descent. The view from this point is pretty impressive.
We continued up and up until we reached the highest point of one of the mountains: which we then descended. As the sky was so clear, you could see all the way across the valley to these peaks still covered in snow! And it was getting warmer and warmer.
Eventually we came down to the rifugio at Barbustel (what a name! Pronounce the 'u' as 'oo') and stopped again for a breather (and a peach juice box, yay!) (do I mention the juice boxes too much? They really are great. Mama B asked me the other day what my favourite part of being here has been - I replied the mountains, the mushrooms we've eaten, the amazing views, of course, although the juice boxes crossed my mind briefly...).
From this rifugio you can walk to the three lakes, for which I have named this hike. Lago (lake) Bianco, Lago Nero and Lago...oldest, I've forgotten the name. I think it's along the lines of Cornuto, as Mama B explained that the name means 'horned' and that's the translation of it!! Anyway, we took a route that passed around the last two lakes and continued up the mountain towards yet another lake: Gran Lago. The lakes up here are all beautiful - and such a gorgeous colour!
The path we were taking was long and hard and continued up for ages - the girls complained loudly. But for once I was not tired! (Well, obviously I was tired but not as much as usual, anyway) We soldiered on until we reached it, at which point we stopped for lunch.
The lake itself was pretty big, and it was surrounded by mountain so quite sheltered - or so you would think. It must have been because we'd gone up so high, because up there it was pretty windy! The wind blew the lake into waves that broke on the rocks at the edge of the water - instantly making me think of the sea, and the beaches on the Isle of Anglesey where my family has, as usual, spent their summer. It made me feel homesick and kind of sad, and while I ate my lunch I thought about how different this summer this summer would have been, had I been with them.
The wind began to make me cold, but then Mama B dragged me on a walk up some rocks to look out at the view across the valley - the walk warmed me up, plus the view was quite stunning what with the fog coming in.
As we began our descent back down the way we came, the fog continued to appear (it was still really warm though).
We paused again at Barbustel (seriously what a name) before making our final ascent to the top of the mountain point, down the other side of which we would descend. This time when we arrived, the fog made it impossible to see anything!
Finding our way down was slightly difficult, as the fog continued to appear!
Eventually we came to a stop at the bar restaurant at Lago Muffe. It was about 5pm by this point and we weren't going to be eating for around two hours, so we ordered hot drinks instead (a peach infusion tea for me, delicious) and sat watching the fog and chatting until it became too cold and we moved inside, where the owner had lit a fire. Just before we are, we nipped back outside to admire the beautiful evening light: we'd hit the golden hour and everything was bathed in a golden glow. I took lots of photos on my camera and I hope they're as good as I think they are!
The restaurant was small (having been concerted from a cottage/cow shed in I believe the last 20 years) but lovely. We ate antipasti including ham, salami, cheese (that the owner had made herself at her cottage not far away) and the most wonderful stuffed courgettes. This was followed by (the mountain's favourite???!) polenta, sausages, and a sort of beef stew. There was even pie to accompany the coffees that came after this but I was just too full to eat anything else!
When we finally found the energy to move, the view outside looked something like this:
Yep. Wow. And we were headed right down into the valley and into the fog!
The final descent back to the jeep probably took us about 45 minutes, and it grew dark quickly as we clambered down the path that went through the forest (in which it was VERY dark). Then a quick 10 minute journey in the car and we were home. Phew! But there was more to come....
...I undid the laces on my hiking boots, took off my socks and looked down. My leg was strangely red and I didn't understand why, until it clicked. It was sunburn! Horrified I rolled up the legs of the gym pants I'd been wearing and stared at my legs whilst the family laughed (no really the Italians seem to find sunburn hilarious). Here's what it looked like.
Excellent. Now I look like more of a loon than ever.
Friday was spent relaxing - I read outside (but avoiding the sun), did two English sessions with Gaia and played cards with the family in the evening.
Today we were up at a reasonable time and began packing up to leave the mountains. The girls' nonno (Grandad) arrived in time for lunch, bringing bistecche (STEAK) and figs from his garden - they were lovely!
And just when I thought my last walk was over, Mama B suggested that G and I go up to the library to use the internet whilst they go visit some friends: it was like a mini hike, I'm not joking. The library is in the next village but that means heading UP! Typically Italian, the library wasn't open again until 3pm and we had to sit outside for 20 minutes - luckily we found some shade and by the time we went inside I was no longer pink-faced from the walk up!
I'd been in the library once before, a couple of weeks ago, in order to print off my Erasmus+ forms that had been emailed to me from the uni - now there's a tale. I received said email on the Thursday, and read it on the Saturday. I had to print the forms, read, sign and return them in the post to my uni by a week on Thursday. Piece of cake, I wrongly thought.
I mentioned this to Mama B the next morning. She phoned the library to find out when it was next open - Tuesday at 2pm. So on Tuesday we rambled up to the library where I had up wait nearly half an hour to get at a computer, but managed to print the forms. Having finished here we went to the post office in the village - not to post my letter mind, to find out when it was open. It had closed 15 minutes before we'd arrived, of course. It was next open Thursday and Saturday.
On the Thursday when we got to the post office it turned out that you couldn't buy envelopes there - something that even surprised Mama B. So we went to the grocer's down the road to buy one, had to queue there, then again at the post office and voila! It was sent and luckily arrived in time. What a palava. I'd known Italy was going to be disorganised, but come on!!
Anyway, I'm now back in Milan - with proper internet, how nice it is! On the other hand, I've been back about two hours and already have about ten mosquito bites - not pleased. Tomorrow I'm venturing (by myself, gulp!) out to Milan to meet up with a friend I've not seen in years - cannot wait!