Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, cold winter Sunday. I felt like going out and enjoying nature, so I took a solo hike in the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, about an hour’s drive from home.

This one marks my very first technology-assisted hiking adventure. It may seem weird for someone who’s been hiking for so long, is a notorious geek and is a professional computer programmer to have never used technology before. A trail map and sometimes a compass were all I was used to, and deliberately. I wanted to avoid technology in this aspect of my life. I welcomed the orientation challenges and superbly looked down at the crowds of phone-smartwatch-compulsive hikers I met on the route. Alas, 2023 was the year I surrendered my motorcycling habits to intercom systems and GPS navigation, and that spoiled me. In a couple of situations yesterday, the app spared me some trouble by warning me of the wrong direction I was going. Nothing major. I would’ve realized the error and backtracked, but being these the shortest and coldest days of the year, I appreciated not risking getting caught by dusk. Also, I found that I can turn on voice-assisted navigation as I do on my motorcycle, and that’s nice (albeit surreal - walking alone in the wilderness, miles from anybody, with a voice coming out of nowhere and whispering when I should take turns on the trail): it avoids looking at the cellphone all the time so I can stay focused on the experience even more, I suspect, than before when the don’t-get-lost alarm bell was constantly ringing in the back of my head.

And then, of course, there’s the selfish and ego-boosting pleasure of sharing your achievement with the masses. I mean, look at this beauty!

The Poggio Montironi hike was an excellent circular tour, advisable all year round and especially suggestive in winter because of the barren and scenic ridge (perhaps too sunny in midsummer) that culminates with the more than 1,000 meters of Poggio Montironi. Near the destination stands an always-open bivouac that can be useful as shelter. At the same time, the ancient castle of Spescia, reduced to ruins but with considerable environmental value, on the return ridge gives the hike additional reasons for interest.

Caution on the descent: Two or three turns could be more noticeable, but they are well reported in the GPX track. A fallen tree (surmountable) interrupts the trail near the ford of the Rio Sasso.

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