As it was instructed, the alarm broke the prevailing silence at 6 am. Darkness was still deep, and the air piercing-cold. So I decided to rather hit the snooze button and enjoy my sleeping bag’s warmth for a while longer. Better than the alarm, the first morning sun-rays, finding their way through the oaks’ canopy, obliged me to get up and behold the beauty of this excellent morning.
It still was somewhat chilly. So I moved inside the little refuge I had the chance to find the previous evening and camp right outside of it. That fat log I’d put in my fire, last night, was resting on the grey ashes -partly wood, partly coal- and was still fuming faintly. I had there my breakfast with bread, jam, and coffee. I then packed everything. And started on my day’s way – which was to be quite a long one.
The first destination was the peak of Pizzo San Michele. I continued on my yesterday’s trail, which kept being obvious and well-laid. Apart from a nice opening by the edge of a cliff: which offered me a great view down to the valley and all the long way I’d walked yesterday to come up here: the trail mostly moved through deep forest. So was I striding it up, step by step, without being able to arrest the slightest glimpse of where the peak it was leading me to was. It was only towards the very end when the forest receded and the rocky bulk of Pizzo San Michele appeared within my sight in the very close distance. Some more steps later, I was standing on that peak, at 1567 AMSL. It was quite a wide, flat area; in the middle of which a church was standing. The views were splendid and far-reaching to every direction. I could clearly see all the way down to Vesuvius and Naples to the east. And to the west, there stood Monte Mai, which was my next goal-peak for the day.
I took the trail running along the ridge connecting the two peaks. This part of the trek took much longer time than I had expected, judging from the distance. This was so due to the soft soil ground and the great number of overhanging branches and fallen trunks intersecting with it. By noontime, I’d finally made it to the summit of Monte Mai. I lunched with bread, peppers, and onion; I smoked a cigarette while marveling at the fantastic, panoramic view; and indulged in an exhilarating, brief siesta within the perfect quietude of the area.
Down to the west, I could gaze at the deep valley of Sabato River intervening between the eastern portion of the mountains I was at and the imposing Terminio Mountain I was bound to the next day. The plan was to get down all the way to the valley (1100m+ of descent) and spend the night there.
There was only one thing worrying me: water. Yesterday, I’d found out that the spring -which, according to the map, should be existing at the spot where I camped – was completely dry. I’d been very thrifty with consuming my remaining water throughout the previous evening and all this day. And I was hoping that the stream by the foot of the mountain I could see on the map should have something bit to quench my thirst. But as I made it down to the stream-bed I found nothing but dry stones lying on its bottom.
That was quite disappointing. It was already late, and I was really looking forward to some rest. But, given the situation, I had to keep going. I was quite assured that -if not anywhere else- I would find water in Sabato River at least. So I started descending the road leading there. The road was running through a dreamily beautiful forest of gigantic chestnut trees. Great parts of it were privatized and wire-fenced, maintaining cottages and even restaurants. Strangely, all of them were utterly desolate. It could be that they were temporarily abandoned because of the drought.
I reached down to the main road running along the gorge of the river. I had to jump or crawl under a few wire fences, and I trudged down all the way into the gorge meeting the river bed. Straight-out anhydrous it was, to my grievous surprise. I only had some scanty remnants of water left, and my lips were nearly bleeding of dehydration. But I neither had any energy to go any further. I pitched my tent on the first even-enough-to-sleep piece of ground I found among the hazelnut trees occupying the depleted river’s bank; I ate all the apples I had to quench my thirst as much as they could help me to do so; and surrendered myself to a heavy sleep, needed to relieve my exhaustion… so postponing my water-finding mission -and prolonging my thirst- for the next day.