Friday, 9 January 2015

The "Path” Monte di Monticchio - Recommone

I read with interest Giovanni Visetti's latest Blog post, where he writes about the state of the trail from Torca to Recommone and Marina del Cantone, (part of the Via del Monti Lattari, CAI 300), and specifically the last stretch  after the pinewood of Monte Monticchio (segments 2 & 3 of map) leading you down to the beach of Recommone.
I walked this trail a couple of months ago, and it is not the easiest trail at the best of times once you leave the path above Crapolla at Guardia.
Rough underfoot and narrow, it is also very easy to miss a couple of crucial turns up to the right, especially when there is a lot of vegetation hiding the signs.

The track becomes even narrower as you cross the gully after Cuparo and there are several tricky points where the drop is considerable, be it hidden by the bushes. And all this before you even get to the very last stretch, which is the main subject of Giovanni’s blog. It is definitely not a hike for the faint-hearted. It is also the hike that compared to other more popular routes creates the highest incidence of calls to the emergency services, with hikers getting lost or hurting themselves along the way.

For several years Giovanni has been suggesting that unless you really need to get to Recommone and Marina del Cantone, you might as well avoid having to negotiate the last steep and fairly treacherous stretch by leaving the official trail and going towards Spina and Caprile. There is a much easier  and more distinctive path (1 on the map), that was cleared and made accessible just a couple of years ago. This takes you up to a very minor road and from there you have a choice of whether to proceed to Nerano and Recommone, or go straight to Termini and on to Punta Campanella or Monte San Costanzo, or simply go directly to Sant'Agata. This is what I would normally do. 
On this occasion, however, we were on a recky, destination Recommone. I had already ruled out any attempt at descending the final stretch of the Cai track. This we had done in the opposite direction (ie uphill) some months previously and it was not a happy experience. Even the “goats” amongst us were in difficulty thanks to collapsed dry-stone walls and thick vegetation, with brambles and bindweed all too ready to scratch you and trip you up. In descent it would be far, far worse, even perilous, since the loose stones along the track add to the difficulty, making it slippery.
I confess that we took the easy option of the steps down to the restaurant in Recommone rather than risking our necks and our legs in the final descent of the CAI trail. This is a much better way down provided the restaurant is actually open and will let you through..

To quote Giovanni, “The question is: in the “path’s” present condition, is it worth going down to Recommone if you have to continually watch where you are putting your feet and can’t even enjoy the view? "
Worth it or not, I would suspect that a combination of ignorant bliss and the thought of a refreshing swim at the end of the hike lures most people on, also because, and I will now continue to quote Giovanni as best as I can: 
 "it has to be said that this stretch has been part of the Alta Via dei Monti Lattari for at least thirty years or more, that it figures in the official CAI map and in many others (mine included), as well as being described in dozens of guides, both on line and not.” In other words, this is the official route and this is what people will go by.
So basically rather than abandoning it, Giovanni states: “something needs to be done about it. Although far fewer walkers hike this trail compared to many of the other paths of the Monti Lattari, the number of emergency calls from lost or injured hikers is much higher here than for any other trail. Accidents can happen even to the most experienced hikers, but seeing that many people don’t bother with a map, don’t know the path or even the area, are dressed unsuitably and have little hiking experience, they should at least be warned about what they are walking into. Why not put warning signs at the main starting points such as Torca and Guardia to the east and  Cantone and Recommone to the west? At the very least it would be opportune to refresh the signs along the trail and check them annually. It would also be beneficial to improve the surface a little…Alternatively (and more drastically), CAI could decide to change the route, removing the stretch from the pinewood to Recommone.
If none of this is done, no one should be surprised if the calls to the emergency services continue.”

 Link to Giovanni's Blog