Zac had mentioned wanting to do the walk to Lago di Barco and Lago Piccolo since we arrived in Vermiglio back in July. Finally, on a gorgeous Sunday in August, we set off on this spectacular hike into the woods. There are several things you should know about this walk: 1. It's really well marked. 2. It's a climb the entire way to the lake. 3. You can drive part way from Ossana, but what's the fun in that?!
There are several points of entry to the trail that we've noticed walking along the path that follows the river, but the entry point from the campgrounds was the closest to our house.
From the start, this walk is gorgeous but intensely vertical. Ok, it's not like one is scaling mountains or anything, but the grade is serious. Happily, the ground is a soft combination of dirt and pine needles - it's sort of spongy even (do beware of the insane number of pine cones on the the trail. Just imagine walking across marbles and you'll get the idea). As you continue to climb, the surface changes to a gravel road and then back to the spongy pine needles. There are a couple of sections where you will do a bit of climbing over larger rocks and tree roots, but this just makes it more fun.
While the ascent can be quite tiring, the beauty around you more than makes up for it. Take the time to stop every now and again and gaze out at the mountain peaks around you. Settle in to the soothing sounds of the many waterfalls that you'll encounter on your way up, up, up.
After climbing for at least an hour, we saw a sign marker for Lago di Barco. I was super excited because I thought we had arrived. But no, this was just a marker for those who choose to drive to this point. The sign was new and provided some interesting info on the formation of the lake and the surrounding areas. This was a great little respite, but we had more climbing to do.
It probably took us another 45 minutes to arrive to the lake but as soon as I set eyes on it, my tired legs sort of fell away. It's a stunning image as soon as you see it. The placid water is surrounded by lush trees and stony mountains. It's amazing to sit and notice the line where the growth ends and rock becomes the norm.
Lake Barco was super busy but it didn't feel obnoxious (save for some interractions between ill behaved dogs). There were large groups of people out enjoying a picnic and others were doing a little fishing in the lake. There are few places to sit around the lake, but we found a nice boulder at the edge of the trail that overlooked the lake and provided views of the mountains and waterfalls ahead of us. We sat and ate our picnic lunch while relaxing in the sun and beauty of this place.
The trail continues from Lago di Barco to Lago Piccolo, but we decided to skip this part of the trail. From the looks of it, it was an even more intense climb to that lake and our tired legs had enough. Besides, we had to walk all the way back home.
We packed up our things and headed back down to Vermiglio. The walk down was a bit hard on the knees, but it wasn't one of those descents that have you gripping and wondering if you are going to slip and fall. Along the way back down, we decided to do a little "off roading" and see if we could find any mushrooms. We had no luck, but know others have been very fortunate to find quite a few around here.
We ended up back at home feeling tired, well worked and happy. The trees and water worked their magic on our souls while the trail did some work on our soles.
(editor's note: I apologize on behalf of Visa-Vis for the pun above)