Ledù   // jeff

The day had started badly. One where you have lots to do, not a lot of time in which to do it and the tools that you depend on to get the job done have turned their backs on you during the rush. For me this meant that my computer, who is beginning to get a few too many italian notions into his circuits, had decided that a strike was in order. By the time Gina opened my office door at 11 with the bags nearly packed and a itch to get into the hills, I was a danger to myself and others. Nothing was good, nothing was helpful, I didn’t want to do anything or see anyone and I certainly didn’t want to go walk around the mountains with a heavy bag on my back. But 20 minutes later there I stood, bag on my back, trekking poles in hand, mood only slightly abated since leaving the vicinity of that bucket of electrons (you backstabber).

But here is where I’ll stop moaning. No human can stand in the magnificence of the high mountains, trees in full autumn colors, with a clear blue sky overhead and feel sorry for themselves or angry for very long. With every passing step and every meter gained I felt better, clearer and happier. By the time we reached the first pass I had completely forgotten about work, computers and the outside world. All that mattered was that Gina had packed lovely panini, that we were exactly where we happened to be at that moment and that I could here the lovely tinkling of bells from around the necks of the goats that dotted the hillsides all around us.

Deep breaths all around…there that’s better isn’t it?

I do this more often than I would like to admit. Building myself into a frenzy over something that, with only the slightest perspective, reveals itself as completely insignificant. Hello, my name is Jeff, and I’m a rage machine.

From this first pass we traversed. And traversed and traversed and traversed. My legs, still wobbly from being laid up in bed with a cold earlier in the week began to tremble beneath each step. But each small ridge we approached, tromping up to peer over the edge at the next valley we’d be dropping into, each basin we traversed across and climbed out of, was childhood exploration at its best. Each view something completely new and unknown to both of us.

And then, all of the sudden, we reached the top of a small rise, uncharacteristically in the middle of a basin, and caught sight of our home for the night, Bivacco Ledù, bright red against the grey stone and brown grass. Like the other bivacco’s scattered around the hills here Ledù is perched high in the mountains, tucked in the crease between two high peaks. Nearly always open year round and nearly always functioning on a donation basis these shelters provide a simple, fun way to stay overnight in the hills without having to carry your tent and the rest of your kit. We’ve been amazed at how many of them exist here and how well cared for they are and Gina and I joke regularly that the extortionately high taxes we’ll be paying here in italy are really to help pay for all these bivaccos not Burlesconi’s lady friends. It makes you feel a little better about, if only for a moment.

Until arriving at the bivacco we hadn’t really placed the strange feeling that both of us had felt the entire day. But as we stood there, sun sinking over the mountains, staring down at a sea of clouds blanketing the bottom of the valley below us we realized what it was, there was no wind. None, not a single breath of wind. Neither of us could remember the last time we’d been in the mountains with absolute calm. It was beautiful. Made all the  more beautiful to be sharing it with my wife and knowing that we were the only humans around to witness this view and this calm.

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