TrekDays Decathlon: a nice surprise!
On Saturday 10th June 2017 we took part to one of the TrekDays Decathlon, organized by the Store of Fiumicino (the one where we use to shop in need of equipment supply).
What are the TrekDays Decathlon? In the context of a bigger series of events, The SportDays, Decathlon shops organize some days dedicated to sports: fitness days, cycling days. Swimming days and so and so. After the suggestion of a friend, we decided to take part to one of these events, dedicated to trekking, about which we became curious for two reasons: the final step was the beautiful ghost town Monterano Antica, but the main reason is that a part of this excursion was a night hike. We never took part before to a night hike and we scavenged through this free event. And this is the proper statement, because it was a limited excursion (like the entire event) and in a few days there were no more free places.
The meeting was at 4.15 pm in front of the store of Fiumicino: here, Paola, the manager of the trekking day, gave us the forms to be signed, walking steaks and little headlamps fundamental for the success of this night hike. We had to give back the walking steaks at the end of the day, but the headlamps were a free gift (I will talk about this later). At about 4.45 pm we were ready to go! The bus was waiting for us to take us, in one hour travelling, at the beginning of a path, next to the provincial road 3a, more or less by the crossroad for the Terme di Stigliano, mid-way between Manziana and Tolfa.
From here, you have to take the Ippovia of Canale Monterano, following the well-placed road signs.
After few steps we stopped at a birdwatching house on a little lake and we saw two herons basking in the sun on a rock.
Continuing on the path, we had the possibility to closely look a tuff quarry, of which the area is full. They’re modern quarries in which bare rock is just dug from the outside, so they appear like enormous, impressive excavated and scratched blocks.
We continued along the valley until we reached the river Mignone: this river cuts in half the valley. On summer it’s just a little creek, almost powerless, but on winter the river floods can bring away the wood decks, cyclically rebuilt. In this season is so low that you can see it just walking carefully on the white rocks.
Following the path around the river towards Monterano, you can meet some native inhabitants: cows with their calves. They could seem inoffensive (maybe they are) but I recommend (for any animal) to avoid them, especially when they’re with their babies. Cows are not famous for their aggressiveness, but they’re huge beasts and have sharp horns, so try to stay off their field!
Walking there is relaxing and pleasant and our guide, Yves, of the hiking group NonSoloTrek, roams far and wide on this area from years: it was able to give us information about every hike’s aspect, about the history of this area and every little path.
We walked at a slow and relaxing rate, it was not very hot because of the late hour (we started walking after 6 pm) and the atmosphere was joyful and polite.
When we arrived at Mignone’s dam, we crossed a pond full of new-born frogs. Yves told us that just few days ago he crossed the same pond and saw the water was black because of the tadpoles, and now, there they were: a thousand of little black frogs between the seagrass!
From this point you have to climb towards the Chiesa di San Bonaventura. The path becomes very steep and you have to put away the sticks and handle with a ruined uphill, using hands and feet, to reach the top of the hill where Monterano is located. The climb is funny and very easy: our group was made of people of any age, from the 8 years old girl to the 70 years old man, but nobody had difficulties facing the all hike.
When we reached the piana di Monterano, we found a gazebo of the Country Food organisation: they were already cooking our dinner. There already were set tables, but we usually prefer to lie down to the ground. Dinner was not free: 15 euros for a lot of food and beverage, mixed bruschetta, grilled sausages and bacon, salad and also two desserts. Meanwhile, you could see the seaside on west and the full big orange moon raising on east; we all have chosen that day because there was the possibility to see this amazing natural show.
In the square near to the church we found also some tents (Decathlon’s Quechua, of course) equipped for the braves who decided to spend the night there.
After dinner we continued our hike, with the headlights, inside Monterano Antica. Headlights (you can see them here) are simple frontal lights, not spotlights and, due to the low price, not very powerful, but they allowed us to walk in the woods for a few more hours, visiting also the “solfatare” (sulphuric volcanoes) at the bottom of Monterano and the Cascata della Diosilla, only few steps away from the bus waiting for us to take us back at the Decathlon Store of the beginning.
Let’s sum up. A good night hike, new experience for us, the TrekDays Decathlon staff was very kind and helpful, great organization and a good varied group of people which in part know each other because of the past TrekDays. The relaxing atmosphere surprised us: it’s a free excursion, they give you as a gift (headlights) or a loan (sticks) part of the equipment you need, we found it was an experience to recommend to every nature lover and light trekking lover (it’s just a few kilometres walk at a relaxing rate).
We were “scared” about what they could ask us in exchange: we thought about a tent or specific equipment presentation; instead the manager kindly asked us only to review their equipment (sticks and headlights), but only if you wanted to do it.
We surely will take part again to one of the TrekDays Decathlon starting from our Store!