London, Rome, Feltre

I arrived in London Tuesday evening.

London

Wednesday I walked down along the Thames past Westminster, then back through St. James Park and Hyde Park to the Science Museum.

Wednesday evening I flew to Rome, and Thursday morning I took the train to Venice, rented a car, and drove to Feltre.

I’m staying in the Centro Storico on a street that is 2 meters wide. The VW Golf I rented is 1.99 meters wide – it’s a tight sqeeze, but with the side mirrors folded in it just makes it.

Centro Storico, Feltre

On Friday, Sandro, Davide, and I drove around the mountains in the Sud Tyrol/Trentino Alto Adige, stopping at various points of interest – mostly places with gelato and espresso.

San Martino di Castrozza
San Martino di Castrozza

Yesterday I went hiking in Val Canzoi.

Lago della Stua

I almost made it to the top of the peak in the center of the above photo, but it became a little too steep for me. I was scrambling up a creek bed, but when I turned and looked down I realized it was more of a waterfall, and that I was several hundred feet up a pretty steep cliff. The view was outstanding and I could have taken a really nice photo if I hadn’t been too scared to let go with one hand, but I was, so I didn’t. ┬áThen when I made it down and looked back up, it really didn’t look that steep.

Val Canzoi

On My Way To?

I’m at the airport and I think I’ve done everything I needed to do before leaving. But I still don’t know what I’ll be doing for the next month. The route I was hoping to walk across Italy is impassable, at least for someone like me who doesn’t like it cold – there is still snow at the higher elevations and below freezing temperatures. If it isn’t clear by next week I’ll go to plan B or C, but I’m not sure what they are yet.

For now I know I’ll be in London tomorrow, Rome the next day, and Feltre the five days after that. By then I should have the following week figured out.

Dingle Way – Dun Quin to Tralee

Left Dun Quin at 10am Tuesday and walked 22 km to Feohanagh in about five hours. Walked along boreens and across grasslands, then across a long beach and on high cliffs.

Wednesday I departed at 9:30 and it took me almost eight hours to walk the 21 km to Cloghane. Descending Mt. Brandon was time consuming as it is a steep, muddy, slippery mess with a 2000 ft. cliff on one side.

The photo above shows the cutting of peat for fuel. The plastic bags are full of peat blocks ready for delivery.

Wednesday night I stayed at O’Connor’s pub which reminded me of PG Wodehouse’s Angler’s Rest. There was even a character telling outlandish stories like Mr. Mulliner.

Thursday I left at 9:30 and walked about 35 km to Camp in 8 hrs. It was mostly an easy walk on beaches.

I made it just in time to catch the bus to Tralee, where I stayed last night. This morning I took the bus to Killarney where I will spend two days hiking in the national park.

Dingle Way – Annascaul to Dun Quin

Left Annascaul at about 9am after having my traditional Irish breakfast – 2 sausages, 2 “rashers” (strips of bacon), an egg, tomato, mushrooms, 3 slices of toast, and tea – and walked the 22 km to Dingle in about 6 hours. It was a beautiful day and the muck never went into my boots – you can’t ask for more than that.

This dog appeared out on the moor. He would run up ahead of me, drop a stick on the ground, back up and lay down until I threw the stick, then he would fetch it and repeat. He continued this for about a mile, then disappeared. I think he was supposed to be working herding sheep but decided to take a break and play.

I walked through 3 miles of this.

But with scenery like this it wasn’t so bad.

Dingle is a lively little fishing village known for its pubs with “trad sessions” (traditional Irish music). I stayed two nights as it rained heavily on Sunday.

Today (Monday) I left at 9:30am and walked 20km to Dun Quin in about six hours.

The trail was very mucky after yesterday’s rain, and overgrown with briars (blackberries) which shredded my clothes.

But walking over Slea Head the view is magnificent, one of the finest I’ve ever seen.

Everything out here is closed or closing for the season. Tonight I’m one of two people at the youth hostel, the only accommodation still open (it’s closing on Wednesday). I had a cup of noodles for dinner because all of the restaurants are closed.

Here is a description of tomorrow’s walk to Feohanagh.

Dingle Way – Tralee to Annascaul

Spent two days in Dublin, then decided to take the train to the Dingle Peninsula before things shut down for the winter. Yesterday hiked 18 km from Tralee to Camp. Rough going over boggy, mucky, and rocky moors – took almost six hour. Beautiful day and scenery, though.

Today walked 17 km from Camp to Annascaul. Much easier walking mostly on “boreens” (back roads). Took less than four hours.

Tomorrow I continue on 22 km to Dingle. Five km of it is described as mucky so I bought a roll of Saran Wrap to wrap my shoes.

Lap of California: Kayaking the Sacramento River – Redding to Ord Bend

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Sundial Bridge
I assembled my kayak and launched it into the Sacramento River at the Turtle Bay Park boat ramp just above the Sundial Bridge in Redding on Monday 22 June 2015. The weather was warm, the water was cold, and the current was brisk. Rapids are frequent in the stretch of river between Redding and Red Bluff, and even with a late start I covered most of the distance to Red Bluff (about 45 of the 55 miles) on my first day.
The first few miles the Sacramento River runs through Redding, Anderson, and Cottonwood, and there are houses lining the banks. There are a few jet boats and drift boats on the water along this stretch. Then, after Jellies Ferry, the river swings to the east and the houses and boats disappear.
Birds and wildlife are more abundant and diverse.

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Deer
The terrain changes from river canyon to volcanic rock strewn moonscape to savannah to forest. Frequently there is a view of Mt. Lassen or Mt. Shasta as the river (which in general runs south) turns east, west, and even north at times.

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The first night I camped in beautiful Iron Canyon a few miles above Red Bluff. It is cut through the lava from past eruptions of Mt. Lassen. My phone battery was dead so I couldn’t take a photo as the river and canyon walls changed color as the sun set. With no lights nearby the stars were incredibly bright and appears to be nearer than usual. The only sounds were the river, bullfrogs, crickets, and distant coyotes.

The next morning I packed up and pushed off fairly early, hoping to stop in Red Bluff for a nice breakfast. It was a nice paddle through the the rest of Iron Canyon, then rolling hills just upstream of Red Bluff. I landed at Red Bluff River Park. None of the river parks look like real safe places to leave a loaded kayak, and that is especially true in this case. I dashed off looking for a nice breakfast, and all I got was a breakfast burrito at Taco Bell.

Not far below the river park is the Red Bluff diversion dam, which is now opened all year.

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Red Bluff Diversion Dam
From here on the river passes through farmland and grassland. There are frequent sloughs and islands.

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There is more wildlife than I expected south of Red Bluff, especially birds. Swallows build nests in the river banks and on bridges, and as you pass the colonies hundreds of them leave their nests and try to lead you away from the nests. There are herons and osprey looking for fish, and occasionally hawks and eagles. Sometimes you see beavers, and turtles slip into the water from logs as you approach.

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I had planned to camp at Woodson Bridge but I went on the wrong side of the island and passed it. I tried to paddle back up on the other side of the island but the current was too strong (or I was too hot and tired), so I continued on. I found a nice camping spot on an island just below Capay.

The forecast was for very hot weather beginning on Thursday so I decided I would stop the next day at Ord Bend and continue on at a later date. Once again I was hoping for a nice breakfast, this time in Hamilton City, and I didn’t get it. I left my kayak at Irwin Finch River Access and walked around town, but could only find a gas station with a convenience store. I bought some water (I drank 9 liters in 2 days) and moved on.

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Living on the Edge with Swallows
I made it to Ord Bend by early afternoon and packed up my boat.

Hiking in Northern Italy

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My plan for Italy was to spend a week hiking the Dolomites, then two weeks kayaking from Venice to Trieste – if the weather was good. It wasn’t. I waited on Isola Lido near Venice for three days to launch my kayak but the weather remained cool and drizzly.
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So I put my kayak in storage and went hiking in Cinque Terre instead. Cinque Terre is on the Ligurian Coast near Genoa. There are small villages built into the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean every few miles and hiking trails that link the villages. It is a beautiful area and a popular hiking destination so it gets pretty crowded in the spring when the weather is pleasant. But except for the most popular trail along the coast from Monterosso to Vernazza you can usually hike all day and see few hikers until you reach a village.
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The trails are steep, often climbing from the coastal villages for an hour or two and then traversing the top of the cliffs before descending to the next village. Along the trails are olive groves and lemon orchards and vinyards that are only accessible on foot. Then as you descend towards the sea you catch glimpses of the village you are approaching clinging to the cliffs. Once you’ve reached the village it’s time for a tasty Italian lunch – the seafood in Cinque Terre is outstanding.

One day I took the train to Genoa and wandered around. As one would expect in the hometown of Christopher Columbus there is a huge port with thousands of boats, everything from feluccas to mega-yachts.image

After a few days in Cinque Terre I headed to Milan for some urban hiking.
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There is a really nice new neighborhood, Porta Nuova, that I liked.
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Via Della Spiga and the Quadrilatero Della Moda is always a scenic hiking area.

I ended my hiking vacation in Italy with a few days in Trento.
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Trento is on the western side of the Dolomites and is on the route to the Brenner Pass, so it is a bit more of a tourist destination than Feltre. The hiking was excellent, but an unexpected highlight was the train trip through the Dolomites on the way back to Venice. It was the most scenic train trip I’ve been on in many years. Some day I would like to ride a bike along this route.