Up , down and sideways in Sardinia, the latter events

We didn’t quite stay parked at the sofa in our apartment. The Sunday came, and we needed to be up and running, since we still had some hiking to do.

For the last walk of the holiday, we decided to go to the coast. After all, Sardinia is an island, and the coast usually is rather important part of a place like that. We were aiming for the Cala Goloritze, one of the more famous beaches of the island. There was again a nicely challenging black walk leading there, from the plateau, close to the village of Baunei.

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My new friends. They had very interesting views on the world politics.

Off we were again, accompanied by a very nice sunshine, heading down a narrow rocky path. At some point, we stepped aside of the route. Which was not difficult, there are quite some trails left by sheep and other animals. It took a while until we noticed that we were not heading for the right direction anymore. That is an interesting moment, when you are walking out there, without a topographic map, equipped only with the route description of your small red book.

Nevertheless we continued to walk, knowing that if we kept the direction parallel to the shoreline, we were bound to hit a road, leading to the edge of the cliff. After a few kilometers of wandering, we indeed did find a road, and got to the cliff with open view over the deep blue Mediterranean, and the stone peak of Goloritze. The trail leading down to the beach  started as steep gravel slope, which we were able to glide down. Our hike carried on in the bottom of the gorge, formed by a small river.

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Even though we both love mountains, I have to admit, it was a very beautiful walk. The trail was partially washed away by the stream, leaving behind cracks and rocky terrain. We passed caves, and ages old oak trees, creating covered and humid areas, where also pigs seemed to like spending time.  The final descent to the beach was steep and required some scrambling, since the stairs had been washed away. We did manage to get down to the beach of white sand and blue water, in the shadow of that huge stone. I took the opportunity to walk to the water, barefoot. Waffle had a moment of insanity and went for a swim. In the Mediterranean in December.

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The short days of winter forced us to leave the beach again, we wanted to get down from the most narrow mountain roads before dark. Our car was waiting somewhere, about 400 meters higher, and the climb was following the same stream, we came down from. Half way to the ascend the rain came, not just a nice, light drizzle, but a descent rain, soaking us within 10 minutes. Warm car has seldom felt so nice a place to be in. On the way to the hotel, we stopped by a hut selling fresh nougat in Baunei. I think we deserved it. After such a soaking.

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The rain turned out to be a fierce thunder storm. It just kept bounding on the island, drowning it with heavy rainfall. During the night, the lightnings lit the whole ground so bright, you could count the leaves on the orange trees. The roads started to flood.

The thing was, we had our flight the next morning bit past 10, leaving from the other side of the island. The rain was still heavy at around 2 in the morning, and we were getting nervous. If it had rained so badly in the mountain pass, there would likely be landslides, cutting our road off. Since we could not sleep from all the worrying, we decided to get on going at 4 in the morning.

We had six hours to make the journey of 3 hours. Still we were not too confident. The first peace of road looked more like a river. It was buried under a good 30 cm of water, we just hoped that our small car could do it, and that there were no underlying surprises.

We were in luck, the mountains were almost dry, and the road was open. The visibility was poor though, the clouds were low, and sometimes the mist so thick we could hardly see 10 meters ahead. Even the crazy Italian drivers were slowing down.  After all we managed to get back to Alghero with some time to spare. And what a good thing it was! We went to a close by beach to stretch our legs, and captured a magnificent sunrise over the island, sided by the still raging thunder. That I call an ending for a holiday!

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All in all, Sardinia was a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting much, since everybody keeps talking how Corsica is the place to be, if you love hiking. And Google image search on Sardinia mainly shows beaches, almost looks like there are no mountains what so ever in that island. But if you are a hiker. Go there! If you want to see further evidence, that more than just beaches can be found, go check our Flickr!

 

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You can never have too many pictures of a beautiful sunrise!

 

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Up, down and sideways in Sardinia -The starter

When you are looking for a weekend getaway destinations in the early weeks of December, Sardinia probably is not the highest option on your list? For us, it was.

On a Friday morning, we hopped on board a plane and found ourselves in Alghero, pampered by the gentle sea breeze of the Mediterranean. We quickly grabbed our rental car and headed for the first mountain hike we had planned (Rother walking guide, Sardinia, Walk 33), up to the top of Bruncu Spina. That meant quite some driving, through narrow mountain passes. In Italian traffic, where nobody seems to care about the speed limits. Plenty of stress later, closely avoiding the collision with some goats, cows and pigs, we arrived at the destination, being a refuge at the foot of the mountain.

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We found the mountain side patched with snow, glistening bright in the afternoon sun. Our trail was heading towards the ridge in a smoothly bending serpentine, partially covered in deep snow. That felt somehow so cosy, like back home in Finland. The trail took us to a split in between two ridges. From where we continued up to the top of Bruncu Spina. Until the trail disappeared, thanks to some piles of snow.

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With having no trail, we reserved to the golden rule, learned in Scotland. If you are heading for the top, just keep the general direction towards higher ground. That worked surprisingly well. Soon we reached the cross marking the highest point at around 1830 meters, and got to enjoy the most beautiful scenery.

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We were above clouds, under the sun. Incredible beauty and serenity can be found there. You can stop in the moment. See the clouds change and move, rip apart, revealing the valley below and then come together again. Somehow, it looks like the heaven from comic books, where angels sit on clouds, playing harps and having eternal brunch. We saw nobody though.

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Evening was coming, and since neither of us was really feeling like driving down from there during dark hours, we needed to cut the walk short. We returned to the crossing of the ridges on the other side of Bruncu Spina and  trotted back to the car. That was a very nice warm up hike for the days to come.

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We drove off, and a couple of hours later, we had crossed the most idyllic Italian mountain villages and stressed through serpentine roads, we drove wrong a couple of times too, until we finally arrived at the hotel, tired and ready for bed.

For Saturday, we picked a walk, marked as black in our little red book. It would take us up Monte Corrassi, sometimes referred as the Dolomites of Sardinia. Resemblance is indeed rather striking. Mt. Corrassi stands at over 1400 meters as pale, rocky peaks, watching over a wide valley. To get there, you drive through small mountain roads and pass cute little villages with neatly maintained gardens. The journey indeed, is a nice experience in it self.

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The happiest pig in the world?

Our hike (Rother walking guide, Sardinia, Walk 15) started somewhere near the village of Oliena. Climbing up shortly to a plateau between Supramonte and Corrassi. Continuing from there towards the higher peak of Corrassi as a tiny thing of a trail. The colors of that plateau are very beautiful, the dark greens of the shrub and herbs against the pale grey stone.

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Once more, we were above the clouds as we climbed higher. Watching them to shape the landscape behind us. Covering the peaks of mountains and then revealing them again. The trail was very beautiful, rough enough with challenging terrain. Though not quite the level of a walk we would normally think as a black marked hike.

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Rather soon we reached the peak. The highest point is an overhang, and if you crawl to the edge, you will stare down into a deep deep fall. Now it was covered in clouds, but none the less, it was a stomach twisting peak down into the void. We sat there for a while, in the calm silence, which you tend to find from mountains, especially on a windless day.

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The trail carried on, alongside the ridge, opening a view over the plateau, or down to the valley every now and then. That must have been one of the most beautiful hikes I have done. Unique colors of the nature there, and the shapes of the rocks. Even up there, you could see the marks flowing water had once left behind. It is surreal, the whole landscape. You know, those moments, when you meet a scenery, that you do not want to leave? You want to take it all with you? That place was one of those.

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If I need to go, I’ll take this mountain with me.

We started to come down from the ridge, walking through an old forest of holm oaks, wrapped still in clouds. The whole bed of the forest was turned over by pigs and we could still hear them rustling around in the low growing bushes. We learned, that on Sardinia, a number of domestic animals, pigs, goats, cows and some horses, are farmed basically half wild. So forests roam these semi tame animals. They can rather freely choose where to go, and what to eat. Seems like some kind of a paradise for farmed animals. And I am pretty sure, that at least the pigs we saw, were very, very contempt.

The forests give me the feeling, that just around the next tree, there will be Julius Caesar, or Nero, sitting on a stump, reading a chronicle, with an irritating Cupid buzzing about. I might be a bit silly now.

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We parked ourselves for the evening, onto the sofa in our apartment. Watching incomprehensible Italian TV. Tired, warm and happy as a pig, in Sardinian forest. So I leave you too, to wait for the latter events of our trip, stay tuned!

 
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