mercoledì 7 settembre 2022

TRAVEL TRAILER: Torrid heat from Lacona to Monte Calamita and back (Elba Island)



Finally today was the day of Monte Calamita, here on the Island of Elba. Starting from Lacona, it was not easy to reach it because, cartographically, finding an 'immediate' path was impossible. So I headed for sections of the GTE up to the upper part of Portoferraio. It was essential to make this 'long mileage' choice to avoid the very dangerous road, narrow and without a border over the line with cars, buses and trucks traveling at high speed with a mixture of hairpin bends ... For my safety I had to choose a quieter and long route. Not that I was sorry to go through very scenic hilly streets but given the temperature, doing the extra kilometers was not easy!

View of Portoferraio

 It was a hill that I wanted to include in my tour last year towards mount Capanne (the highest on the island) but for the reasons just explained I had to do mount Calamita in a special tour.

I left Sunday 07/31/2022 at 6.00 in the morning from Camping Stella Mare in Lacona, then up the paths towards Portoferraio, all dirt with some stretches of asphalt. I crossed various inland restaurants that I did not know where I will certainly stop to eat on other occasions...

Small chapel at the entrance to Capoliveri

After having climbed the hill I was on the Portoferraio side, where I had to walk the perimeter of a quarry to head towards the hills that would soon accompany me towards Capoliveri. In the morning the temperature was mild, even if it was already clear that soon the day would present itself with a 'burning sun' during peak hours. So it was.

An 'up and down' between paths and small streets, a few scattered houses on the path, all beautiful! Breathtaking views of the sea all around typical of a small island like Elba. On one side I saw the sea of Lacona, on the other that of Portoferraio, on one side Italy ... Landscapes not every day! Many ships on the horizon in every corner.

Capoliveri Church with grotto, Madonna delle Grazie


Church in the background

The kilometers go by and here comes the urban centers, small villages with intense traffic. Then again paths in the middle of the woods. A feature that catches the eye is undoubtedly the one concerning the type of land on the island, that is, dusty, dry, which sdirty you and sticks to your skin and clothes.

Piazza Copoliveri for the fountain, on the way back
View from Capoliveri

 I arrive in the outskirts of Capoliveri after eight o'clock in the morning, after all it is all thanks to the fast still low temperature. A very long climb begins that goes around the summit where the village is perched, near the coast. Choice to widen the tour always linked to traffic and avoiding the main road as much as possible. After other kilometers I arrive in the center of Capoliveri where I stop for a snack and a drink (I had been visiting two evenings before and I knew the presence of that fountain), so ten minutes later I was already towards Monte Calamita. A few kilometers on an asphalted road on the coast (I noticed a few thousand cacti on the slopes of the cliff), then a little visible path on the left and I start looking for the shadow adjacent to the few plants present. A very steep climb and other kilometers that flow under my feet. I reach the Punta del Monte calamita after 10.00 in the morning, I pass some picnics and go up again reaching the fenced military base. I sit under a turret full of cameras and other gadgets, for the second snack. I observe in the distance the island of Montecristo, that of Pianosa and Monte Capanne always visible with its over 1000m of altitude.


Military turret on Monte Calamita


View of Monte Calamita, two strips of sea. Lacona and Portoferraio


Cactus on the road

 The return begins in scorching heat. I take photos and videos, I drink every 30 minutes, I can't help it. One more trip to Capoliveri to fill up the water bottles, drink and freshen up. I decide to go along the main road for a small part, a stretch on secondary stairways at the last minute in order to save a few kilometers on the outward journey.

An unexpected fountain

The heat grows from kilometer to kilometer and when I return the hardest climb towards Portoferraio begins, I think the temperature is around 40 degrees but I have no tools to measure it. I write with absolute certainty thatthat the sticks were hot in my hands! The pace becomes slow and stunted and in the few flat stretches it becomes impossible to run. The fast water runs out despite the three 0.5L bottles I had below. When I arrive at the point closest to Portoferraio I find in the middle of 'nowhere' a disused aqueduct fountain complete with a meter that still throws a trickle of precious water. I quench my thirst, I fill the bottles, I refresh myself, it is 2.00 pm and it takes 10 minutes to leave slightly regenerated. I walk to save up to the main road towards Lacona, all a climb. I go down to the side of the quarry already met at the beginning and I undertake a long descent and find a shaded area for the last snack before arrival. At 14.55 I am in Lacona near my campsite and the GPS is close to 40km, but unfortunately I have activated the instrument a couple of kilometers later and so the measurement is not exact. I walk the last kilometer to the camper. It's about 8 hours and 40 minutes according to the clock, even if for me the time is now completely relative since I take my time with videos, photos and snacks ... The heights of the island are not comparable to the Alpine ones of my Po Valley.

View of Lacona during the final descent

It was a nice walking adventure which, despite the Saharan heat, ended well. However, I could not have covered more kilometers with those temperatures. In an upcoming outing in such hot areas with little water I will try to leave at night to arrive before rush hour, in order to make walking easier! You learn by making mistakes. 

Me upon arrival at the campsite

 Also this adventure, as my usual, was prepared with the technique of the weekly Monotraining for the ultratrail

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