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Climbing to the top of Monte Baldo, a metaphor of life at Covid-19 time

Written during Covid-19 lockdown..

It’s the end of September, one of the last opening weekends of Telegrafo refuge on Monte Baldo: our final destination. The day is cloudy, we begin to climb slowly from Prada and the more we get up, the more the fog falls. During the journey, my friend and I tell each other about our lives and despite the wind that plays with our words and the fog that surrounds us, our thoughts are clear in the light of day.

It seems that going up any heaviness is left behind and those thoughts are lightened. We share episodes of our life. Cheerful and even more painful emotions. But everything seems to fade in the woods, it seems to be absorbed and filtered through meadows, among flowers and these wonderful trees. I feel I am more available to listen and to be able to refrain from responding immediately for fear that that thought will escape me. I breathe and keep walking at my slow but continuous pace, one step after the other.

The wind pushes and pushes us, plays with us, in an almost suspended, timeless landscape, where we must pay attention to the path, to the nearby references because we do not have a complete view of the climb and at any moment you risk losing direction. We cross meadows and a “malga“(mountain hut) where a large number of cows graze. Farmers are gathering them for the descent to the valley, shouts of incitement are chasing each other. It is the time of transhumance and summer is officially over on Monte Baldo too. Animals are brought back down to the valley and this weekend in Prada it is going on the celebration of the end of the season, repeating an ancient tradition. Traditionally on 29 September is kept one of the oldest events in this area, San Michele fair. Local people descend from the mountain with their herds and meet with mediators on the esplanades of “Prada Bassa” to do business and meet friends.

Meadows seem plowed by the passage of herds of wild boars that dig in the constant search for tubers to feed on. There must be a lot hidden in the woods, in the most impervious ravines and inside thorny bushes.

We go up in the fog, accompanied by the presence of curious marmots, who sometimes throw short whistles, but often remain silent witnesses. We walk at a steady pace, we are in no hurry, we have the whole day to get up there comfortably.

When we are almost arrived, at a mountain pass, we have an exciting encounter. An entire family of chamois that graze quietly, not at all disturbed by our presence and by other hikers. Instead of avoiding us the chamois come to meet us and then discard towards the ridge. They often sit perfectly still, controlling what is happening from above and then going back to climbing and climbing unreachable peaks.

And here we are, at 5:15 pm you finally arrive at the Telegrafo Refuge, the highest in altitude on Monte Baldo. The sky has cleared and the fog has risen revealing the wordless beauty of a unique place that I always carry in my heart, the Garda Lake.

Looking back on that climb today, after weeks of forced withdrawal at home, uncertainty about the direction of the path becomes a metaphor for our time, in which certainty and safety seem to have vanished, but it is necessary to continue to go forward one step after another, transforming the retreat in a cathartic healing moment to rediscover what really matters and leave useless ballast behind, to free your heart and mind and have the goal clear: we will make it if the world learns the lesson. If we manage to go beyond harmful prejudices and nationalisms, if we understand that we are truly one, with ourselves, with others and with nature. I would also like to thank Eleonora, my friend of excursions and inner and real journeys.

Cristina De Rossi
Italy4golf Italian Ambassador

Covid-19, Cristina De Rossi, Garda Lake, hiking, Monte Baldo, Prada, San Michele fair, Telegrafo Refuge, transhumance

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