Attempt at Motterone - Musings on the nature of success Edit

Some days the journey is more important than the destination. Just being out in the open air, seeing great beauty, and feeling joy.

My plans today have been rather dynamic. Intending to walk to the peak Motterone from Stresa, I elect to take a route to the north of town, involving a walk along the beautiful lakefront. Constant views of the lake, the beautiful and ever closer islands and mountains are accompanied by sights of manicured gardens along the walkway and across the road magnificent lakeside hotels and homes.

The intended turnoff proves elusive, and I realise I am only a short walk from the next town Baveno and a glance at the map shows several alternate and interesting alternate routes.

The walk between towns is lovely despite the lack of a footpath and many passing cars. Drivers are very considerate to pedestrians and the many cyclists.

After a walk along the lovely Baveno lakefront, I sit for a while at a cafe, taking in the surrounds and my third cappuccino of the day. Waves gently crash just below me, almost drowning out the chatter of Italian groups on surrounding tables, while an English family sit mute and playing on their various devices. Possibly harsh to compare meetings of friends with a holidaying family, but the contrast is stark.

The cafe is next to the ferry stop and a few ferries stop and leave with the attendant updating the sign each time with destinations of the next ferry.

The road heading up through the town towards the hills is initially a medium steepness paved road and views to the lake change quickly from looking across the lake to looking down on the town and expanses of water. Very soon I am on a single lane cobbled road and have to backtrack to avoid a vehicle such is the proximity of the stone fences. Just as soon, the last of the houses is past and I am on a steep stony walking trail. At a junction I make a quick decision based on the need to get away from the noise of two barking dogs behind a fence but almost barking in my ear, and soon after see the red and white strips of the marked path.

The path becomes gentler through quiet forest. I pause for a while in a lovely clearing above a cliff for a drink of water. Now 3 hours from Motterone according to the sign, and unsure whether I will make it today. According to this timing though, I have done the first hour of walking in 30 minutes so I suspect the time estimates are for the reasonably unfit.

The next slope is steep and exposed, and at the top after a 15 minute slog a sign saying 2 hours 55 to Motterone - so my hard 15 minutes has improved my position be 5 - so again unsure of the time to get there but happy when the sign points to a shaded side road. Not long after the road splits into a walking path and dirt road. I choose the walking path and am rewarded by some blackberries before it becomes impassible and I work my way down to the road. The road soon ends also, at a pumping station - just beyond which is a beautiful mountain stream with a large clear pool.

Hot and sweaty I strip off and enter the freezing water then dry off in the sun (where is that elusive towel). A quick feed before backtracking in search of the path. It is difficult to be truly lost here when the lake is always in sight, but again I find myself off the right trail. Looking at the stream I think again of the journey today and the moments of joy that have presented themselves when I have left the intended trail.

I almost give in and return but on one last walk along the unmarked road I find the small trail turning off, and it is a delightful well marked trail, initially crossing the stream then ever upward on a shaded ridge line. The sky is now overcast and the trees provide additional shade and coolness but the walk is still humid and uncomfortable. The trail is well covered with leaf litter and I note that retracing my steps will be tricky, downhill steps likely to end in slippage on the leaves.

Arriving in a clearing with contented and uninterested cows grazing I see behind them a stone cottage and track junction meaning I have reached Alpe Vedabia. Now 1:45 to Motterone, and glimpses of the lake frustrated by forest and haze, I decide to push on for a while.

Soon after a junction, an unimpeded lake view, and the first sign for a trail back to Stresa. Estimate for return time is 2 hours but I can imagine running it in 30 minutes, plunging into the lake, then hitting a gelato shop before a good long stint at a bar. But I press on upwards.

Reaching Alpe Nuova, I see an amazing panoramic view of the lake, forested hills in between and the towns of Stresa and Baveno and islands below, numerous towns on the other side and the lake winding into the haze towards Switzerland. Even a noisy German family can't destroy the moment.

I can see the path to Motterone now, an easy looking 45 minutes, and a dilemma ensues. The days feels a magnificent success without reaching Motterone, so will doing so lessen what has come before. If I spoke more German I could ask my noisy neighbours - the Germans being traditionally good philosophers.

My map is too inaccurate also to assist in the decision of whether the return to Stresa is quicker from Motterone. Hmmm - coin toss?

Heads wins and off to Motterone. The German family has stopped at a refugio so easily passed. More people along this way, and soon I can see the ski slopes, restaurants and parked cars of Saturday visitors. Not an enjoyable place to be and the mountain is also enveloped in cloud - I figure that passing one of the towns bars counts as making it and turn for home. Soon there are loud sounds of thunder and large drops of rain, soon becoming a storm. It doesn't last long and I am relieved by the drop in temperature.

The path back to Stresa is nice but mostly road. It passes through a couple of lovely villages but the long descent on asphalt after a long day is trying and makes me glad that I stumbled on the other way to the top - far more interesting and pleasant.

When I get back to town it is 7:30 pm, and I am totally had it - huge day!

The walk was definitely a success, but the best moments were definitely the unplanned ones today, while the actual goal turned out to be a disappointment.

Today's walk powered by the following music:

Chairhouse - Moth Corrine Bailey Rae - the heart speaks DIIV - is the is are PJ Harvey - the hope 6 demolition project Hiroma Uehara - alive

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