Updated: Aug 9, 2019

Many tell me: "What a beautiful job yours must be!” ... True, but not because I receive high compensation with minimum effort. The life of a hiking guide, who is not satisfied just to take groups on paths already well known, but rather to explore and make known new routes, is a little more complex than it seems. It is made of hard work, time on the PC and hiking maps, days searching for more lost tracks, and those great days when you discover viable roads not marked anywhere. Maybe a week of work to allow a curious and keen group to discover something new in one day. And then? And then I begin to tell what happens behind the scenes of 3 hours of excursion ... Happy reading. Life as a guide ... Chapter 1: Still much to discover Here: the fateful question ... Where to start? When in doubt .. From the data. Data: 07/08/2019 Object: inspection in Alta Val d'Orba Equipment: 60l backpack, hiking boots, sleeping bag, first aid minibox, tent, water, packed dinner (ready mixed salad), packed lunch, packed breakfast (blueberry juice and croissant), change of clothes, wind jacket, swimming costume and towel (impossible to resist a dip in a pool in the wild), hiking maps 1: 25.000 (border area .. There are 2), GPS, binoculars 7x50 with stabilizer, reflex, lenses 18-55 and 55-300, Handycam .. What else? Ah! Essential, fundamental ... Coffee-filled chocolates !! Total weight: approximately 15 kg. Good, departure: today's destination is one of the wildest and most unknown stretches of the upper Val d'Orba, from the town of Vara Superiore to the springs of the eponymous stream in the valley. Half-day ascent, 8Km for about 290m of positive elevation gain up to Passo del Faiallo, between narrow gorges overlooking the river, clearings, small mountain lakes that dot the first stretch of the Orba and the majestic beech woods that dress the slopes of the mountains of this area. For dinner time in Faiallo .. ‘La Nuvola sul Mare’ seemed to be waiting for me with a saffron risotto and sausage that ... But how good. My packed meal won’t take offence. Night in the tent in the (vain) hope that the fog will clear so I can focus on getting something going. Wake up at 5:30: the fog had been chuckling outside waiting for me to open the zip ... and to say Good Morning to me. The packed breakfast didn’t take offence but ... The freshly made Nuvola tart was necessary to mitigate the disappointment. On balance I would say positive (my back a bit sore... And a reminder for me - and it is the ABC that I systematically neglect - the chocolates go in the front pocket ... In hand’s reach !!) I consider how to promote this itinerary; it’s hard work, one section is roped, it’s not for everyone, but whoever comes along will see a natural wilderness, home of the fauna of the forest, with not much sign of the hand of man. The only negative note of the evening: I return to how the clouds enjoy creating fairy-tale scenarios here at 1000 meters .. At 4 km as the crow flies from the sea ... but misty, so the beech forests were suffused with Ireland, or should that be Scotland...? And anyway it’s done it again - the Val d’Orba, however well you think you know it, it will find a way to put you on the back foot, as you come across views and landscapes that give you, every time, something new to discover. Yes I know, I have fallen into being too verbose, what can I do ... It is crazy. Okay in simple terms: it always amazes you.

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