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Translated Jeff Matthews

Every time I've gone up to Campo Braca for our caving excursions in the grotto of that name, I've admired the summit of Mt. Miletto (2050 m/6150 feet); like a great father, it dominates the entire Matese massif.

I have always been fascinated by the narrow erosion valleys on the flanks and by the bare limestone rock contending with grassy high meadows for space on the mountain side. When Nando suggested that we hike the trail from Lake Matese to the summit of Mt. Miletto, I didn't hesitate for a second. There were four of us on the climb: “caret” (Siro), Alessandra, and Yours (caveman) Truly.

The morning started out fine. This time we left our trusty Suzuki Vitara at home for reasons of space; four of us plus backpacks wouldn't all fit. We took a comfortable Toyota Corolla. The two-hour drive passed quickly and at 11:00 we were at the base of the trail that starts near the church of San Michele.

We started at 1020 meters/3060 feet: splendid weather, crisp air, a blue sky crossed by puffy clouds, and the rays of a warm sun (but not too warm) all combined to give us the ideal temperature for the climb and promised a memorable day. It was rocky right from the start as the trail attacked the remarkably steep flanks of the mountain. For lengthy stretches the trail is not particularly visible. The old white and red pennants of the Italian Alpine Club that mark the trail have faded now and you can barely see them. It is thus ever more likely that you can wander from the “straight and narrow.”

Up a bit higher than 1500 meters (4500 feet), the climb offers frequent panoramas of the rare beauty of Lake Matese below, reflecting the clouds and the surrounding mountain peaks. Above that, you lose sight of the lake as you move in among the steep ridges above green karst plateaus. Now you have your first glimpse of snow; it's joined by fog banks, first spotty and them denser and more frequent. Patches like that accompanied us all the way to the summit of Miletto. This outing presented some options. At 1867 meters (5600 feet) I stopped. Then, right after, so did Nando and Alessandra; we had met two other hikers who warned us that snow had blocked the last part of the trail (the part that goes around and up to the summit from the west, the most comfortable route). At that point, dropping his pack and other superfluous items, Caret went it alone, going up the final stretch from the south; it's much steeper, in parts like a wall climb. Getting to the top for all of us, he was in dense fog but managed to shoot a short video to document the climb.

On the way up, we had noticed and photographed, on the lower part of two grassy plateaus, two distinct “swallow holes” that, to our knowledge, are not listed in any list of Matese grottoes. The first was at 1571 meters (4713 feet) and was right along the trail that got us to the top. (I stopped at this one and wiggled through a muddy and narrow entrance, partially blocked by snow, for a glimpse, just a few meters in.) The second one was at 1550 meters (1650 feet); seen from a distance, it's a large swallow hole in the rock and drains the water from a vast plateau. Both of these openings merit closer attention, but it would certainly be better to approach from Province Road 106 and then the 331, the road that goes from Sella del Perrone to Campitello Matese.

At the end we were tired but contented. We stopped on the way down at a point where there was no longer any snow for a short but necessary snack, and then we continued down into the valley.

What else?...just to say that once again good company and the uncontaminated nature of the mountains of the Matese gave us an unforgettable excursion.

See you next time.



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21 August 2019

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