03 October 2011

Hike to Corno Grande

Saturday dawned clear, sunny with temps in the high 60's. Perfect weather for a hike. Seven friends gathered and we set out for Campo Imperatore Wilderness to hike the highest peak of the Gran Sasso massif in the Apennine Range, Corno Grande (9,554 ft.). The parking area is at about 7,000 ft. and the trails fork off from there. The temp at that elevation was a delightful for hiking 57 degrees. One friend decided to enjoy the already wonderful view from there and six of us set out, four men and two women.

This is where we were headed, Corno Grande. See the people ahead of us on the trail?

The sky really looked like that when we started, utterly clear, deep blue, remarkable. We came to a fork with the left trail marked "normale" and the right for the "Alpinistas" who do technical climbing. We took the left trail.

Looking back at the trail. See that thin ribbon of trail in the center of the photo? That's our trail. Steady elevation gain with a few scrabbly places of loose rocks, little purchase and steep drop offs. In other words, the thrill of good hiking spots.

The other woman in our group dropped out just below one such place and headed back to keep our other friend company. The four guys and I hiked on. The sky continued to amaze us and the views in this rocky, moon- like landscape were sureal but cool.

The four guys and some of the little vegetation we encountered.

We stopped for a late lunch at a spot about 8,500 ft up and were awed by the vistas. The peaks all around us seemed to go on forever, like they've been there forever.

This was actually an opportunity to sit on a relatively high rock pile once we decided to stop.

Me with my Honey feeling exhilarated. Since the days of owning two Alaskan Malamute dogs, hiking has been a shared passion- California, Colorado, Banff, and now, Italy.

Views from the other direction.

At which point some clouds started to roll in.

But, oh the views…

As the white cumulous clouds gave way to darker ones that brought a drop in temperature, we talked it over and decided we had left too late to make it to the summit this day and still get back before the weather deteriorated further or we lost daylight.

We'll go again. Start earlier. Reach the summit. But sometimes it's just about the hike itself, the camaraderie of friends, the heart stopping vistas and the secret joys of being with your Honey and leading a hike up new mountains at age 65.


  1. Oh, WOW! I wish I were there! We're going to Devon for the weekend, and I'm thinking HIKE thoughts too, even if I have to wear my raincoat.

  2. Nan, Have fun and I'm happy to say I'll see you at Christmas!

  3. Beautiful vistas. And really nice pictures. I have a hard time with a hike that has no shade at all, and it didn't look like there was any water, either, making it necessary to carry it all! What was your total elevation gain and mileage? (I always wonder.) :-)

  4. Amazing.
    I've never seen (in person) anything like those mountains. Not likely to, either, so I sure am glad you take photos!

  5. Wow, that's an impressive hike! Lovely photos.

  6. I kinda thought you'd wear Lederhosen. :)

    Beautiful stuff.

  7. Stunning! Simply stunning. I love Italy. Great photos, and a great hike. Congratulations on your ascension.

  8. Great hike! I expected you to be wearing a jacket, for some reason.

  9. You. Rock.

    You began at 7,000 feet! That is high, and the sky, yes. Imagine it at night, and the stardust. I'm terribly impressed by your fitness and health, both inside and out. You and your Honey are totally inspiring. The views are incredible here, and I can only imagine how it feels to be standing there surrounded by all that splendor, especially having accomplished the hike yourselves. Bravo! I look forward to when you will share the peak.

    My great grandparents used to climb peaks, apparently, though I don't know many details, as they were gone before my time. I know they climbed Pike's Peak, and in the Himalayas. And this was in their elder years too. All I have of theirs, which I treasure, is a small Navajo blanket.

  10. Congratulations to both of you for maintaining such robust physical fitness, which is just as impressive as the beautiful photographs!

  11. DJan, Yes we carried our water but the sun felt good at this time of year with temps up that high at 57-59 degrees. As always here we wore sun screen. Due to the late start we only went between 8-9 miles with about a 1600 foot elevation gain. The top will require 2,500 ft el. gain but I don't know the mileage yet.

    June, There were parts of it that looked like the far side of the moon, a different topography but spectacular.

    Nancy, Glad you liked them. Have you hiked with your grands? Mine love a good hike.

    Lou, Wrong country! We do have the Alps, though, that are contiguous with Germany and France. I'd love to do some hiking up there, esp. around Mt. Blanc, which is the highest peak.

    Allison, There's lots to love about Italy. Thanks for the congrats.

    Linda, Once I got hiking, it was warm so a light long sleeved technical tee shirt was enough. Ironically, I added an extra layer once I was down.

    Ruth, We started there because that's where the parking area is! Looking up the summit seemed plenty far away, though. We were wanting to get down before nightfall but the sky at night must be fabulous. Thanks. It felt amazing to be up there. There's just something about using my body, having it respond and then getting to savor the sights. Like a reward.
    As I get older it becomes more important to have things from my grandparents. My great grands were all from other countries and I have nothing of any of theirs. Treasure the blanket. How cool that yours climbed- the Himalayas- the ultimate.

    TB, What a nice thing to say!

  12. You rock. Really, I am envious of your stamina and fitness. I once really loved to hike also. Arthritic knees hit early in my life. I find I just can't come down the mountain once I am up. I'm working on stamina. I hope to do some gentle walks up the mountainside soon.

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.

    I've been on blogging break. I'll be working at catching up.

  13. Gorgeous! You can almost see the path that ancient glacier took...I cannot wait to move there. How's your guest room?

  14. Sally, Welcome back! There's a resource that might help in the re-conditioning process: Jeff Galloway has a wonderful walking program and includes steps to take before beginning it. Good luck.

    Lauren, Guest room clean, ready and waiting! And, yes, this is the site of the Continent's southern most glacier.

  15. What magnificent views! I bet lunch tasted wonderful after the hike to that perfect dining spot. What did you eat?

  16. I love, love, love these pictures!! They remind me that my Italian ancestors came from a mountain region called, "Sopramonte".
    Which, unfortunately, I can't find on any Italian map, anywhere. :(
    But, your pictures give me a warm, loving feeling.
    Thank you for this post!!

  17. Patti, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just because they're easy to carry in a small backpack. They were tasty though after working up a good appetite. The beauty that surrounded us- amazing.

    Gabriele, Sopramonte is west and north of Venice. Go to Google maps and they show it. I'm glad you liked the photos. But you must come and visit!


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