Did you ever feel the need to escape from your daily routine and run away from everyone and everything? It’s a feeling inside that wants to take you out there. It is a healthy desire for freedom, to wander, to get lost, in search of the simple life, outside the rules of calendars and watches. It’s like when we were kids, full of freedom and eager to explore the world. So the idea of an escape came out from a childhood memory. During a bike ride in the backyard, Giorgio tells me about a huge wallpaper that covered the living room wall of his childhood home and how that image brought him closer to the outdoor world since he was a child. The alpine scenery of that wallpaper never leaves his memory: a valley dominated by pine forests and snow-capped peaks, and a river running through it. A special window from which he often looked out dreaming of wilderness adventures. That memory and the sense of freedom that have fueled, projected us beyond that wall, immersed in a 4-day bikepacking trip in the Italian Alps.
The trail starts to climb steeply, no flatland in the Alps. After passing some malghe (alpine pasture huts), we trudge along steep hair bends with the fully-loaded bikes to reach the first pass of the day. Once there, we glimpse the first snow-capped peaks in the distance. That’s a breathtaking view. Meanwhile hunger begins to be felt, so we decide to take a break. That’s a perfect place to grab a bite and make a special bresaola and turkey sandwich with homemade bread. At 2500m, that sandwich tastes of the mountains. We unlock the suspensions and have a ton of fun riding the flow trail which runs through a wild valley with huge mountains as backdrop. But things change quickly. The trail begins to be steeper, more technical and dangerously exposed in some stretches.
We proceed with caution, since there’s a high risk to fall down into a ravine that runs besides the singletrack. We are forced to push the bikes even on flat stretches. An alpine ibex scrutinizes us from above a cliff near the trail, then the guy continues to graze the grass, not caring about us. The wind rises and the sky darkens, but when the sun rays filter through the clouds, the contrast of lights and shadows gives birth to unique landscapes. The day ends with a leaden sky that does not bode well. We pitched our tent in a valley crossed by a river, which provided us with plenty of water to quench our thirst and prepare dinner and breakfast. It’s just us and a billion stars up here.
On day 2, with more than 2200 vertical meters in our legs, we have to climb again. Another 1000m awaits us to reach the second pass, the highest of the route. Thankfully the sun is shining and we pedal for a long stretch, but once we approach to the side of mountain, the slope becomes too steep even for the 30x50 combo. We push the bikes slowly, in small steps. It’s getting harder to breathe now, more effort than usual, but step by step we reach the pass at 3005m. It’s the first time we bring our bikes so high. We looked around and we’re immediately dazzled by the incomparable beauty of sharp peaks and incredible colors. That view took away the breath that’s left. There is no wind, you can only hear the clicks of our reflex cameras with which we try to capture that magnificent creation of Mother Nature.
We sit for a while and silently contemplate that place to cleansing our souls. Someone once said “Wilderness is a necessity,”and he was right. We leave from the pass, along an endless singletrack which runs through a prehistoric valley, dominated by multicolored rock walls and huge ice masses. The attitude to the mountains helps us to overcome some tricky passages. The first one is a steep via ferrata, that we face bringing the bikes under our arms, and the second one is the crossing of a glacial river generated by a glacier that looms above us. It smells like adventure! We continue to wander for two more days through majestic scenery, lost in the mountains that seem to never end. Our eyes were filled with snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, waterfalls, pine forests, marmots, moss, boulders, wildberries, lakes, rivers and glaciers. After 35 years, the wallpaper in the Giorgio’s house had finally come to life and we were inside of it.