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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow? (J. Saramago)
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Back in May, I started a GeekList to keep track of the adventures lived during a journey around Iceland (link). That GL was created to tell a story, but it later became something very different. A tool that helped me track down not only the stories heard and the places seen, but also emotions, colors, suggestions that that place had left me.

Many friends showed interest in that GL / blog, lived virtually our same adventures and shared the same laughs; now we're back home, and certainly Iceland's no more, but there's so much beauty around us, and so many places to go that I thought that it'd be interesting to keep track of those as well. For hikers, for nature lovers, for people simply curious to give a look at that other side of the world, places they could possibly never see but can glance at, virtually, through the net. A virtual fire in the night around which stories are told, and a part of life shared.

This blog will keep going for a while. It won't be updated daily as the Icelandic one, clearly (real life, job and other duties are to be attended), but everytime we go in a different place, and have a new story to tell, a new item will be added to this list. So, subscribe to be sure not to miss anything, and let the journey begin
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1. RPG Item: Lake Town [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:2259]
RPG Item: Lake Town
Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow? (J. Saramago)
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The lonesome hikers and the end of the world

Sometimes there's an apparent conflict between the trail descriptions you find in books and what your hike reveals to be; or maybe it could happen that the person responsible for the trail description forgets that his readers may not have took part to his latest hymalayan expedition. In any case, today's hike (Laghi d'Olbe, Olbe Lakes, in the Carnic Pre-Alps) was filed as an easy trail, requiring only 2.30 hours to reach destination. So, we reached the starting point of the trail quite light-hearted (despite some troubles arose during the journey, including half an hour lost while travelling through a village where the "most beautiful cow of 2016 was being selected" (in the end they covered the animal with flowers, quite an interesting experience I think), and with equipment just for a standard hike (no ropes, no harnasses, no nothing).

The path was very idle in the first part, slowly winding up a spruce forest, shady and tranquil as it seemed, following an old forest road. We passed a hut with children playing in the water, and all seemed just perfect.

Then the slope changed, and the trail passed over this very big rock (the "trail" is highlighted in red):

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


so, 2nd degree (Welzenbach) on an easy trail. The upper part was just grass, so, extremely slippery due to the nocturnal rains.

We keep going. The trail goes up, following the max slope (40°-45° or something like that. One of the steepest trails of my life). At some point we notice the trees are so tired that they lied on their flank to rest a little bit:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Still, we hike up. The fatigue grows, but suddenly another type of fatigue wears off. The stress of the week, the problems at work, the transient unhappiness that sometimes hits you during life for no apparent reason. It's just me and the mountain and the silence around me, while I keep going up. And then I feel it, stronger than ever: the need for a life lived at a different speed, according to different laws. Not the laws of man, but the laws of nature. We keep going for what seems like an eternity but I don't care, I keep cuddling in me that sensation, unwilling to let it loose.

Finally the forest breaks clear, and the impossibly steep trail calms down, opening on a high-altitude valley ending in a vast meadow

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


From there, there's no sign of man anywhere, my glance can embrace a whole horizon of mountains and distant forests under a vast yet cloudy sky. The valley where we left the car is just a faded, insignificant memory: we're on a sort of roof above the world, hillslopes are simply too stip to allow, from where we are, a view of any civilized area.

We keep going under a light rain, wondering how distant the lakes could be. The 2.30 hours indicated in the guide are long gone, despite the rather fast pace at which we're going.

When the clock reads 3.15 hours from start, we reach the first lake. The only problem is...

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


there is no lake. Precipitation paucity, climate change, the scorching eternal summer sun: there's no more water, just grass and some moor plants. It's another little sign of an ill ecosystem that cast a shadow on our hearts. With a heavier pace, we move to the second, bigger lake (fortunately still at its place)

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


We stop for a while, we eat some food, we check the map to see where to go next, but most of all, we enjoy what we feel. The sun is tepid. A slight breeze comes from the East, pleasant and not aggressive. The smell of grass is sweet and invites us to stay for a while longer. A couple of other wanderers come by, they stop by the lake. Their kid casts pebbles into the water, but without breaking the harmony of the place.

It's time for us to go. Wisdom would suggest to go back to the civilization, but we go in the opposite direction: by the lakes passes another trail going up a little bit more and we want to go that way, to hike up some more and reach a pass from where we can look at what's beyong. Another valley, other mountains, newer horizons. And as we go up, we're rewarded because we discover the existance of other lakes, hidden from view from the place where we were:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


And above us lies our final destination:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Reaching the pass is a little bit more demanding than expected (the trail was rather slippery, and a part of it had collapsed so that you had to invent a way to pass; plus, quite some exposure in the upper part) but we finally are there, and look at what lies beyond

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


New ideas for different hikes start dancing in our mind while we slowly begin our way back. We don't want to return following the same way, tho, so that instead of having the idea of "returning" we have the idea of "moving forward" instead.

It's very late in the noon (5 PM), and we still have a lot of road to walk, when we have quite an unexpected encounter. A doe was having some water at a stream. And the trail was just behind her, with wind blowing in the right direction (for us) so that we mostly run into each other. She looked at us, and jumped away. Just a few secs, to transform the initial 10 meters of distance into something more. And then she stopped, and started living her life again, careless of our presence.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


I've seen many deers and animals during these years in the mountains, but this was the first time I've heard the hooves on the soil, and the breath of the animal. Another gift from an unusual day.

We keep going in the evening lights

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


and for some time after that

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


when we finally hit the main forest road. A jeep's coming down our same way: the owners of a nearby hut that are returning home for the night. They are so kind to give us a lift, so that we can spare to hike down the last 800 meters of height. And while we're in the back of their car, playing with their gigantic dog, we know that we're headed home, but our spirit will linger on that mountains for a while longer.
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2. Board Game: Bios: Genesis [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1650] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Bios: Genesis
Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow? (J. Saramago)
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An extinct ocean

Cramàrs. In the dialect spoken in my region, this is the name hawkers were called. Not all hawkers, though: only those selling spices and fabric. In the past times, from 18th to 19th century, cramàrs walked all their way from Austria to Italy and back to sell their goodies, and this journey was made along a mountain trail. Partly fascinated by discovering aspects of our regional history that otherwise we'd have ignored, and partly because we wanted to see first hand the way these men walked several times / year, with rain or scorching sun, we headed north at the first light of the morning.

The early part of the morning was rather cold: when we leave the car, it's +5°C (+41° F), and the wind is chilly. Often during autumn the cold comes with the gift of a clear sky, and blessed with a cloudless day, we start our hike.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


From gallery of Scarlet Witch


The trail is rather easy in the first half, unwinding along an unpaved road and crossing a couple of now dead rivers; then it moves on a rocky bed and becomes steeper. Slowly we emerge from the forest cold shades to the glory of the midday sun; and the landscape around us slowly changes into high-altitude meadow where the dominant color is red. The remnants of a now ruined hut bear witness of a different time; and I cannot but think of the stories my husband told me earlier in the morning, of his granfather walking this very same path almost a century ago. If I look around, I cannot imagine how this landscape could have changed over the last 70 or 100 years, and watching the same mountains and walking the same path as another man (or thousands others to me unknown) did before us seems to give unity to many different things, there is only one thread that becomes many, but deep inside everything is one, and we live nothing but a single moment that could last for the whole eternity.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Once we reach this point, it's just a little bit more until we reach the Wolayer Pass, and from there, we enter Austria. In front of us immediately opens a small valley containing the Wolayer Lake: a cobalt pool cuddled by the icy northern wind.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


This small valley and its secluded lake are actually just a smallish part in a far bigger fresco that brings up back to the dawn of time. The whole area is a huge hanging valley originated from the sea 320 millions of years ago. At this point, the orogenic activities brought the mountains surrounding the valley to life; the sea returned afterwards, shaping the landscape surrounding, but without being able to actually reach again this place, a mirror of a time before time.

From here, a geotrail starts. It's late, but not too late, and this is a call we have to follow. We leave the lake and we go eastwards, uphill along a muddy (thus, extremely slippery) grassy ridge. We gain a couple of hundred meters of height in more or less twenty minutes: the landscape in front of us becomes gorgeous, as we hike closer to the sky.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


The mid noon light hits the peaks, making the first snow glitter in the sun, as we reach the highest point of our hike. We turn south, and keep moving on the bottom of an extinct ocean. The steepness becomes crazy, the trail now a series of steps carved in the soil with a pike that only a giant could walk with ease. We keep going downhill, until we leave the meadow for the rock again, we lose the trail for a while and all of a sudden, by will of fate or just coincidence, we discover a boulder covered in fossils

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


From gallery of Scarlet Witch


The sun is setting behind the mountains when we complete the geotrail and return to the lake

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Cold starts biting us again, and we quickly go to a nearby hut where we change for warmer clothes and rest for a few minutes. The wind grows on intensity, and stormy clouds are finally arriving. Still, we spend a couple of minutes watching the delightful wits of someone who imagined the fissures in the hut's walls are nothing but hanging rocks for adventurers to climb, and so, with a sharpie, he gave birth to a marvellous hidden world of peril and fun:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Temperature hits 0°C (32° F) and the chill starts growing under our gloves; we dash our way back to the valley, and we reach the car a few minutes before the tempest arrives

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
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