Sunday, August 29, 2010

The moon, the mountains and I. 24 hours alone

"We live as we dream: alone..." Joseph Conrad

August is holiday time for many. The usually quiet mountain village where I live gets crowded. Woods and meadows serve as dining rooms for hundreds of people (and the garbage left behind often echoes their lively voices for a long time...) Even the highest mountain peaks become a common destination for the adventurous citizens on vacation. But this doesn't necessarily mean that I dislike this month or its crowds. It can be fun, just that it spoils a bit the holiness of many places I love and makes really hard to find that special intimacy with nature I am so often looking for.

"If the sun lights up people holidays", I thought, "then the moon can show me the way through the wilderness!" I had luck: the turbulent summer weather gave me a lucky break in correspondence of the last full moon. So, once again, heavy backpack on my shoulders, I was hitting the slope leading to the top of Majella massif with the plan of exploring its vast altitude plateau at night. Alone.
I started at 12AM and met the last people at 5PM: then the mountain was all for me. I walked on and on. Explored ridges and crossed saddles. Looked down to the deepest valleys and up to the fast-moving clouds.
At sunset, I had the purest and simplest light. When night came, I was tired but exhilarated, so I kept on. I dropped my backpack in a little cave and took only a bunch of nuts, my camera and tripod with me. Wind came in full force and didn't leave until the morning. At 11PM I was still shooting the landscape, holding fast my camera to not let the wind toss it to the ground. The moonlight gave the round, barren mountains a touch of indefiniteness. Dark shadows and silvery colors. Deep contrasts and vague horizons.
It was midnight when I went back to the cave, crawled into my sleeping bag and dropped dead. At sunrise, I enjoyed the most perfect stillness. The moon, still high, was now competing with the first sunrays. All around me just blocks of blue, pink and gold.

At 6.47AM, I spotted the first two hikers and then I realized how much exhausted, dehydrated and hungry I was...

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