OK, I'm a wimp. I freely admit it. But believe me, the sound that a covey of three grouse make exploding from shoulder-high rhododendron and raspberry scrub in thick fog as I was nervously fighting my way through shoulder-high rhododendron and raspberry scrub in thick fog is just like the noise a disturbed wild boar will make when disturbed just before it eats you. I confess that despite a pocket full of pepper spray against free-roaming Maremmani shepherd dogs, a wicked looking knife wholly unsuitable for peeling apples and a boar-rogering trekking pole with tungsten point with which to face down any marauding wild thing, I was thirty yards in the opposite direction and still running before the grouseboar had even decided which way to go. I mean why do they do that? Why do they wait until you almost step on them? I'd been shouting 'piggy piggy!' and tapping my pole and whistling for the last half an hour so there really is no excuse. I have a sneaking suspicion they do it on purpose. Seeing the amount of environmental destruction the boars had caused on my hike today I did not want to surprise one. I was very certain I did not want to surprise one. Any animal that can dig a hole 40 cm deep and dig out a 20 kg rock WITH ITS NOSE just to get at a skinny 3 cm long root is not an animal I want to be creeping up on and I was a tad nervous. The grouse know that. The bastards.
And what's with the rain Oh sky gods? I hike three and a half hours up to the shieling sweating like a pig for all of 7 minutes of sunshine, progressively adding layers as the temperature dropped and the sun turned to fog and then thick fog and then Victorian London type thick fog with the sole purpose of examining the place for rock carvings and as soon as I get there you make it rain?! Come on, play fair.
And what's with the weather forecasters these days. Can't you ever get anything right. Zero degrees at 3,600m you said. You want evidence? I took a screen shot of it. So you said zero at 3,600m and I'm at 1,800 m. You do the maths. Why was there sleet? How do you expect me to trip about on rock with a hundred metres of vertical nothingness below me looking for faint etchings on licheney rock when there's sleet on it?
So all in all an odd sort of day. I didn't find any carvings either, or wolf scat just another disgusting shieling littered with bit bits of orange and blue nylon rope, bits of rusty metal and rotting plastic and in this particular shieling, dozens of pink plastic cups (now in my possession). Why can't you shepherds and cow people clean the fuck up behind you? Have you no respect? And you want me to respect your job and side with you against the wolves. Fuck off.
And hunters too. Most of you can sod off too. There was one idiot hunter today who lost his dog right at the start of the hike and spent a good couple of hours calling it. Ever heard of peace and quiet you fuckwit? He yelled the dog yapped. What he couldn't see was the dog had fallen down onto a grassy outcrop and couldn't get back, so it went down then it seemed to shoot off up the gorge yapping hysterically. Interestingly the yapping continued right up until just below the shieling. I could hear the actual yap with my left ear and two seconds later the echo off the rock face behind me with my right ear. All good clean fun.
However, I must say, in lieu of barefooting today, I wore some shoes from the odious Decathlon. It's a shandal, a sort of shoe sandal affair, cut low, good grip, full of holes on all sides and on the top. Excellent shoes I will reluctantly admit. When you sink up to your ankles in that cow-shit and mud spring-water soup so beloved of cow men it seems, by the time you've sloshed thorough the next puddle your feet are rinsed clean as any water going in, gets shot out through the holes with the very next step. OK my feet look like prunes now but that's beside the point. They do work.
Took shelter in Barma D'aut on the way down (a rock shelter full of goat droppings). Lot's of people in the area. Well, five anyway. The mountains are getting to be just like Auchan on a Saturday afternoon tch!tch! But nobody came into the rock shelter and it was tipping it down outside which might have been why.
Oh and just in case anyone flies in from, say, Australia or Belgium to walk up the Valley of the Invincibles to the Subiasco shieling, take some chalk with you. Going up was OK but coming down in the thick fog was tricky at points. I had to climb back up twice after heading off along some very convincing paths which eventually stopped in a thick tangle of shoulder-high rhododendron and raspberry scrub. Chalk would have been very useful.
|Sectin of hanging path|
|Barma D'Aut rock shelter|
|The Valley of the Invincibles|
|Boar rootings all the way up the path|
|Barma D'Aut rock sheter from the inside|
|Looking down from Barma D'Aut|