Grande Traversata Del Supramonte

Well it all started where another great multi-day hike called Grande Traversata del Gennargentu came to its end a couple of years ago. So here we are leaving the gates of Gennargentu (lit. the silver door – another epic name that seems to have come right from The Lord of the Rings…) at the immaginary frontier between these two massive mountainous areas, in the middle of nowhere but already tingling with the intoxicating feeling of excitement of being catapulted into an adventure that still has to unfold.

And this is how our entrance to Supramonte was accompanied by a picturesque sunset somtime around the end of May

Day one (and a quarter) from Arcu Correboi to Monte Novo San Giovanni

Actually we arrived quite late in the afternoon so we had only the right amount of time to reach a tiny but surprisingly cosy stone – built hut in order to spend the first night about an hour walk from the main road where we’d left one of the cars (the other had been parked at Su Gologone where we would hopefully arrive after four days). Some would say that adding an extra night is useless as it only prolongs the journey but I couldn’t disagree more! These multi – day hikes are all about leaving everything behind and let everything in that is now have become your reality: the feeling of walking again, the weight of your rucksack on your shoulders and all your senses that try to absorb simultaneously as many stimuli as possible: the perfume of the shrubland, the sound of your steps on a dirt road and the sight of some wild mouflons suspiciously observing us from the safe distance of the mountain tops.

Not to mention that waking up already in the middle of nowhere puts you right in the mood of checking maps and descriptions of the track you’ll be following that day

The morning after we had a rather long day of walking ahead of us but it couldn’t have been more typical of the Sardinian hikes: an ever changing landscape among woods, fields, hills, creeks and constant pathfinding problems where it’s best to set the direction you’re going towards and make up the rest benefitting from the random paths that show up with a faint hope that they won’t end abruptly.

But first things first – washing the dishes in a creek along the path
One of those crag – walks that won’t lead anywhere but still looks promising as the alternative is finding your way in the bushes
You’ll understand that it’s impossible to stay on the path when there’s so much to explore around you

And when it comes to accidentally running into the most various manifestations of nature involving hundreds of years old junipers wearing their torment on their very own grey coloured skin and massive elderberry trees adding their flowers’ sweet perfume to the already blooming spingtime air we are also reminded that men has been here throughout the centuries.

The ruins of an ancient village called Norculanu

This first part of the journey doesn’t resemble to the harsh landscape that usually characterizes Supramonte. It’s somehow a mild and smooth environment teeming with life that step by step leads you to the mountainous territory that awaits you filled with mystery on the horizon.

Talking about mistery: we never knew who hid this toy pistol in a crack of a huge rock but surely we found the best way to set up a western a movie (Monte Fumai and Monte Novo San Giovanni in the background)
The hilltop of Monte Fumai is definitely worth paying a visit to firstly because it’s there, secondly because in May there’s a lot of daylight so you have time, thirdly because you’ll get your first real glimpse on the magnificient white limestone walls of Supramonte

There’s not much altitude gain/loss involved in this first day of walking, nevertheless you should consider that the mountain top you will set up camp on is at 1316m so it’s likely to get chilly in the springtime at night. However there are at least 2 wooden huts that are more than suitable for spending the night and in of them you could even light a fire if you are willing to carry some logs from the woods as you will find none on the top.

Anyways this is one of the coolest and most breathtaking places I’ve ever seen on the whole island of Sardinia, so getting there a couple of hours before sunset and just hanging around while you’re sipping your precious wine that has to (!) last for another 2 days… makes you feel privileged.

This tiny hut placed right on the top of Monte Novo San Giovanni is a real gem
And it’s also unexpectedly well-equipped for Sardinian standards
Also we found these two hobbits enjoying the view of the surrounding forests

Day 2 from Monte Novo San Giovanni to Cuile Ziu Raffaele (which we found burnt down)

Descending from the hilltop to begin the second full day walking the path leads you to gaze upon some unique sceneries that are utterly typical of this particular area. As a matter of fact you have the opportunity to visit all or some of them based on your pace and your curiosity. And as you will be roaming between two distinct territories (Supramonte of Orgosolo and Urzulei – named after the closest villages) on one side you’ve got the forests and large plateaus and the stunning gorge called Gorropu on the other. But your steps will inevitably take you to the very heart of this mountain range as the sparkling white colour of the rocks slowly replaces the darker shades of the timeless holm oak trees.

Cuile – an ancient witness of the old times when these huts were home for sheperds for many months a year. Now many of them have been repaired and they serve as very useful shelters for the night for whoever comes around
Built of only stones and wood cuiles are truly fascinating and harmonious structures. No wonder that you don’t even notice them until you’re actually at the front door.
Blooming fennel plants are adding new colours to one of the (soon to become arid) plains we crossed
The view from Nuraghe Mereu towards the impressive walls of the magnificent gorge called Gorropu, a dreamland for climbing, hiking, canyoning and basically everything you can possibly immagine.

So we were planning to spend the night in one of the most renowned cuile in Supramonte called Ziu Raffaele but unfortunately it had been consumed by the flames sometime before (which makes a perfect example how human ignorance might cause so much damage and how much effort it requires to rebuild a shelter in such a remote place).

That’s when you realize how important it is to have some alternatives in case something goes sideways. And having hundreds of cuiles spread around this territory means that likely you will find one even if you have to walk a bit more but at least there will be a roof above your head (or – worst case scenario – above your rucksack)

Evening fire vibes

Day 3 from Cuile Suderle to Pradu

No matter how long you’ve been roaming among these mountains you won’t ever know them just as well as the shepherds of old times who weren’t here to admire the beauty of this land but to find a way to keep their animals and themselves alive. Their profound knowledge of this vast area included the whereabouts of water sources which are extremely hard to find unless you know exactly where to look. Funtana S’Arga is basically the only spot to get water supplies for the whole day ahead of us so finding it cheered us up as fuck.

Beware though: only bearded men can enter!

Day 3 leads you definitely into the realm of Supramonte as you slowly walk from around 850m to 1463m. As a result the vegetation changes gradually and the limestone itself becomes the protagonist of this stunning scenery. At times even the well hidden secrets of enormous caves come to the light due to some ancient force (which might well be erosion) that caused the top to crumble and form this gigantic crater known as Su Suercone.

Su Suercone – the crater-like sinkhole

Although this is one of the longest walk of the entire hike, I believe that it is also the most spectacular as nothing compares to the feeling of gazing upon the distant deep blue sea seen from these mountains. It lies there waiting to be reached through endless peaks, gorges, valleys and crests all there in a miscellaneous yet harmonious order.

Gathering

Compared to the rest of this four day long hike I believe that this particular section is the easisest to follow as the paths have been cleaned and widened. As a consequence you, your senses and your thoughts may ramble freely while you’re getting to places you’d gladly spend a couple of weeks just roaming around and exploring.

Arriving at our camp in the valley from Punta Corrasi (the highest peak of Supramonte)
Campfire with roasted cheese. You work with what you got!

Day 4 from Pradu to Su Gologone

There are some alternatives to the camp at Pradu which might not be the best choice as the mountain refuge is partially destroyed by strong wind. As a matter of fact I was the only one who slept “inside” as I was hoping the temperature would be slightly higher there. That’s because I had underestimated how cold it might get during the night and my sleeping bag was no match for it. As a result I wrapped myself into a space blanket which made me sweat as hell. Also I woke up everyone around me in a range of 5 kilometers every time I moved as it makes the sound of a 4 year old kid who’s trying to open his birthday present.

Cusidore (1147m) – the mythical peak of Supramonte
Planning to come back one day for some multi-pitch climbing and call this tiny cuile home for some days

I’d be happy to share some more pictures about the rest of this final day but I didn’t take any as unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the descent to Su Gologone turned out to be a bit challenging due to some issues of finding a reliable path. So we split into two groups, each following their own personal compass which led us simultaneously exactly nowhere… but in the right direction.

Though I firmly believe that no real adventure should be called as such without a reasonable amount of crawling, dragging, swearing and following immaginary paths, commonly known as ravanage!

We made it anyway!

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