Moriani - Saint Alessio Chapel
The first night was not without event, there were sounds of the wind in the trees and animals off in the distance. Then came 23:00h when I was awoken by three young boars around my bivy. In the dark, this was more than enough to get the adrenalin pumping. The black creatures were bigger than a house cat but smaller than a golden retriever. At first thought, I was preparing for a fight but simple smack of the trekking poles on the ground got them to move on, a use of the trekking poles that would be a recurring theme throughout the trip. Afterward, I fell back asleep no problem.
I woke and broke camp just before sunrise at 6:00h, best to be on the move early when wild camping. Just as I was getting properly started with the trail I entered my next wild animal encounter. Coming around a corner of a narrow trail I was met face to face with a black bull, horns and all. Now I grew up in Wisconsin so I’m somewhat used to cows but seeing how’s I had my bright red raincoat strapped to the outside of my pack I decided it best not to test the bull getting mad at red theory. After I stowed the coat and with the help of banging my trekking poles together, I was able to coax him to the side of the trail so I could pass.
It was about this time I reached San-Nicolao or one of the small towns along D34 and found they had water and waste stations for hikers. I seised the opportunity and made some oatmeal for breakfast with my MSI pocket rocket stove, a meal I had every day for breakfast in the backcountry. Not being sure where the next water source would be I filled up to 4 liters for the trek.
I reached Pienti at midday, my original goal for day one. Seeing how I still had the energy I decided to push one towards Perelli. As I hiked along the vally, I passed several rustic pig farms and even had to fend off a horse while eating my lunch, he must have liked the smell of lunch meat and waffles. After Pienti the trail got significantly harder it started gaining altitude fast and the state of the trail also deteriorated with a lot of loose rock and dirt.
By 16:00h I was quite tired having risen from approx 400m in the valley to 1100m near Mt Castello d’Osari. I was pretty done for the day but after the boars the night before and passing what appeared to be an old hunting stand. I really wanted somewhere a bit more secure, so I dug deep and picked up the pace onward all the way to the Saint Alessio Chapel.
Man was it worth it, the chapel is situated up on a ridge overlooking the entire Alesani valley. It is gated, has a nice patch of flat ground, and is only accessible by trail. For me, it was the perfect place to stay the night, with absolute respect for the religious purpose of the structure I simply bived on the small grounds.
Sitting on the rocks looking back over to the sea the reality of this trip hit me. Being March there were absolutely no other hikers on the trials even though at that point they were completely passable with no snow at all. Also, the mountains are unforgiving with washed out trails and hot beating sun, basically spent half the day with my t-shirt completely sweat through the chest. This situation leads to a serious mood where an injury is not an option. Non the less I was enjoying myself.