25 February 2016

Hiking and Trail Maintenance in the Neighborhood

My father in law Dante, on top of Cucetto peak a few years ago
This winter just hasn't really gotten off the ground like some of our winters. Mind you, I am not complaining, especially as our livelihood doesn't depend on it like so many other people in the ski industry does. That of course wasn't always the case. Snow farmers are what we use to refer to ourselves when I worked for a ski resort back in my Colorado days.
Fabrizio working on making new trail signs this winter
Anyway, I find myself looking forward to hiking the hills around our house these days since skiing and snowshoeing just aren't accessible right outside our door this year. However since I started writing this post we are waiting for a big snow storm to arrive, so I just may be dusting off the snow shoes for a romp around the neighborhood yet.
Fabrizio and Dante trail reclaiming
We have already done a search and recovery of an old circular path that has potential, in spite of some of it being lost to  the ravages of time and disuse. One of the things I love when we are tramping around in the woods here in our neighborhood, is discovering all the old rock walls and structures that are left behind to stand witness to a different time. It always make me think of what life was like back then. I am always in awe of the labor that went into all the rock structures. They must have been mighty hungry after all the days of dragging those stones around and fitting them together to last all of the years later. Always impressive.
Rock retaining walls and old stone houses left behind 
Then when you think about what they must have been eating back then, cheese, cabbage, leeks, potatoes, repeat, and repeat again. They certainly must have been happy when there were some new greens pushing up through the winter brownness to offer something fresh to eat. I have developed the theory that may be why Italians or Europeans are so fond of their bitter greens, because when something fresh use to come up after a long winter, it tastes mighty good no matter if it might be a tad bitter. I've developed a fondness for the bitter flavor as well.
Primula -harbingers of spring
Fabrizio has spent a lot of time with his father making signs for the mountain trails that meander throughout our neighborhood. These paths were once the only means of people moving about  as they took their cheeses into town to sell, or made charcoal from the abundant chestnut forests that gave themselves up for this source of heat and cooking fuel. Once our paved road came in in the early 1960's, and the car became the main mode of transportation, it didn't take long for many of the old trails to begin to disappear.
Reclaiming and signing our trails
About 5 years ago our Regione Piemonte got involved in a program with Switzerland called Vetta and then  announced a program here to help reclaim the old trails and offering equipment to map out the trails and put them on GPS. My husband Fabrizio Roncaglia and Silvano Damiano took on the challenge along with help from Silvano's two children, Valentina and Matteo, as well as Fabrizio's father and our local C.A.I. walking association, that have been cleaning and marking our local trails. Silvano has done a phenomenal job with the actual GPS mapping and photography of the paths, as well as getting it all online.  Now these local paths will be GPS mapped and won't easily disappear and will be GPS accessible. Nice job on all the hard work everyone.
Silvano Damiano
there has been a lot of effort that has gone into the cleaning and marking of our paths.  There is still much to do to tie all of this hard work together, but it is exciting to see it all progress.
Fabrizio Roncaglia painting trail markings.
These photos taken by Silvano Damiano
New signs, new connections to old paths that are easier to find.  We have paths that head up for the big views and down to the river for the idyllic idle complete with a few deep pools for splashing your hot tired feet in. We also have lots of contour paths that go round the mountain and expose all of those old rock buildings and remains of walls and fences. A bit if this and that for everyone.

Merla Peak cross and the Grandubbione pool in the river
If you like to walk in the woods and feel the healing presence that nature offers, then visiting with us is a great choice.  If we are in the middle of a path cleaning day, you are always welcome to tag along and help if you like. 
Dante and Fabrizio clearing a path and CAI sprucing up our signpost
However there is plenty of opportunity to make the most of picnicking in the mountains with trails that aren't as challenging as others.  We are situated in the mountains and that in of itself is a beauty worth discovering.  We look forward to sharing it with you when you come, so come on! 
Bella Baita View this winter


Melody said...


It looks like they are doing an awesome job. Maybe someday I will walk your beautiful mountains !!

Love, Mel

Bella Baita Marla said...

We hope that you will come and walk with us one of these days, Mel..They are doing a great job and it's exciting to see it happen. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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