Updated: Mar 31
My idea was to escape the still snow covered landscape of Grindelwald. What better place to go in early spring than the Italian part of Switzerland, the Ticino.
I decided to base myself in Lugano as the Sentiero Lago di Lugano traverses the town. This multistage long distance trail follows for large parts the frontier between Switzerland and Italy on mountain ridges and high plateaus.
Setting off on the first day across town amongst the early morning commuter rush to work, I soon reach the bottom station of the Monte Brè funicular.
From here, the start of the trail starts in earnest, climbing steadily at first amongst houses and villas nestling against the mountainside of Monte Brè with privileged views across the lake. Soon arriving at the pretty village of Brè Sopra Lugano, civilization is left behind. Now the trail climbs steeply towards Monte Boglia. Once reaching the top, the views are truly spectacular over lake Lugano and far into Italy. Not rushing, the wooden bench invites me to enjoy the beauty and solitude for a little while. "Life is better on the Trails"
The steep downhill from Monte Boglia would be quite easy later in the year.
But as this side was still covered in frozen snow, I made my way gingerly down the treacherous slippery side into the beech woods below.
From here, the trail winds itself through undulating forest landscape towards the amazing rock formations of the Denti della Vecchia ( Old ladies teeth). In the wooded areas the trail was snow free but in other places the feet soon got wet in the soft mushy snow. The 'Scenic Trail Race' follows much the same route and sign markers remind me that one year I really should do this Race.
My plan was to reach the highest point of the Gazzirola peak. But at over 2000m high, the snow was still lying deep and I had no idea if someone even attempted the summit on foot. So, I was sensible for a change and headed for the villages below. In the end, I caught the postbus at Bogno. A two hour trip back to Lugano lie still ahead of me.
On the second day, I decided to take the train and a bus ride to the village of Novaggio. I didn't fancy to run in the lower built up areas.
As often happens at the beginning of a tour, a big climb of 1200m vertical awaited me to the top of Mount Lema at 1600m above sea level. On a snow free switchback trail, my legs coped well after yesterdays 1900m vertical. I do like my Ups!
The trail straddles a very long ridge, at this time of the year more often than not covered in snow. The snow I was trying to avoid. But I guess, as a mountain man I need to look down from the top of the mountains rather than up at the mountains!
In the summer months, this ridge trail is undulating and very flowing. A great run. All that is required to keep the concentration focused on the trail ahead. But the awesome all round views are easy to detract from the task ahead.
As the ridge opens to gentle open ground, the snow also increases. The afternoon sun is warming the white ground enough to make running impossible. Ankle deep, with soaking wet feet I trudge through the snow towards the Passo d'Agario. The inviting little hut has an open door and a few provisions for sale. The money can be left in a bowl on a little table. Even small bottles of wine are there for the helping.
After signing the the visitor book I carry on towards Alpe Nisciora skirting 200m below the peak of Monte Gradiccioli towards La Bassa
From there the path descends through beautiful beech forest to Torricella and the railway station of Taverne.
I am left with beautiful memories from the Ticino. The countless number of trails, often hidden in rugged little known valleys beckon for a return very soon.