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Stazzema-Pruno Trek, Parco Naturale delle Alpi Apuane, Toscana, Italy. September 2006.

On the afternoon of September 7, 2006, I and a colleague set out from the village of Stazzema for an overnight traverse around Monte Procinto, Monte Forato and Pania della Croce in the Alpi Apuane range. We wanted to go light with minimal food and water, being confident that we would reach Rifugio Rossi in about five hours. Well, everything went wrong. First, we had a hard time finding the trailhead in Stazzema, losing precious time. Then, I dropped the map off my backpack's pocket, which left us with an outdated sketch of the area. By the time we got near Foce di Valli, a pass below Pania della Croce, it was all dark except for the illumination provided by the full moon.

The night out in the open with no tent, mattress or sleeping bag turned out to bequite uncomfortable. Aside from humid soil and the buzzing mosquitos, the inclined ground surface hid marblestones that poked us in the back. Cold and concerned, we decided to hit the path shortly after I took this photo at 4:10 am. The 10-minute exposure shows the open southeastern slope of Pania della Croce, known as Costa Pulita, under pure moonlight. The white parts in the image are marble.

When we reached Foce di Valle, we had the rising sun on one side, and the setting full moon on the opposite. It was a heavenly sight with clouds floating below us. Long out of water and food, we pushed on with no time to set up the tripod.

The sun and the marble reflecting the heat made the 400-meter elevation gain up Pania della Croce quite a chore. At some point, I ran into severe dehydration and had to take along rest. Not having had a sip of liquid for 18 hours, we drank three liters of Powerade and just as much water each in less than an hour at the rifugio without a single call from nature.

Fed and watered, we continued with the climb up Vallone dell' Inferno (Valley of Hell) to the peak of Pania della Croce, and eventually reached the village of Pruno. Catching all the last connections, we were back in Firenze at midnight to collect our luggage. All in all, we had walked for 20 hours in the 27-hour outing for a total elevation gain of 1,400 m. Just have to be less cocky the next time.

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Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory Detail:Italy