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Semprevisa climb 2009
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
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As a kid I never really got to see proper mountains. The Smokey Mountains were the highest I'd ever driven through. I always wanted to climb a mountain. When I was seven we moved to Alabama, and there was a "mountain" (actually it was more of a hill) across the street that my dad promised we could climb together. Turned out that hill was completely inhabited, contained a golf course, and wasn't something you could hike up.

Finally at the age of 30, I got my chance. Latina, Ilaria's hometown, has a couple of interesting mountains to climb. One is a climb along the beach and a higher one, Semprevisa, that is about 30 minutes inland from the beach.
 
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Fernando had climbed Semprevisa many times and offered to take us up.

I asked him how many other climbers we'd find on the mountain. He said on a hot day like this one, only three stupid people.
 
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With our expert guide, we began going
 
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up
 
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and up
 
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and up.
 
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The first part wasn't really a "climb" -- more of a steep walk through the woods.
 
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Along the way, we got a few glimpses of the neighboring
 
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towns.
 
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One thing that really struck me was the difference in landscape and scenery from what I'm used to seeing in the USA. This hike felt more like I was walking through the Mediterranean lands described in the bible.
 
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After the steep walk, we arrived at a fountain
 
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and took a group photo.
 
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At this point, Ilaria, who still had weak stomach muscles from her C-section surgery 3-months before, thought she might be ready to go back soon.
 
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But she was willing to go up a bit further, so we advanced to the next section of the trail over some rocky terrain, which was the steepest climb of the trip.
 
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At the top of this section, we could see the little town
 
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even better.
 
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Ilaria was holding on strong as we walked through some flower-filled valleys
 
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and on to the most unpleasant part of the hike:
 
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The Valley of the Flies.
 
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This mountain is a grazing land for many cows. The dung-laden valley grass was fertile with colorful yellow flowers.
 
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But all of this dung laying around was a freakin feast for zillions of flies. I've never seen so many flies in my life. They were all over us. All the buzzing was driving us crazy. I feel uncomfortable even typing about it.
 
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We eventually made it through
 
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and found some of the cows grazing on the other side.

At this point, Ilaria was feeling pretty sore and decided to stop. Fernando said we were about 15 minutes from the top. After 3-4 hours of hiking, I really wanted to see the top so Fernando showed me the basic direction to head, while he and Ilaria stayed back to rest and have lunch. Those 15 minutes felt like forever, because it was much harder to stay on the trail when I had to do it myself rather than having master guide Fernando do it for me. I kept losing the trail and finding it again. I was worried I'd get lost and not find my way back, and I didn't want Ilaria to have to come look for me. Plus there were lots of horses by themselves just walking around. I find free horses intimidating.
 
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But I found my way
 
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to the top,
 
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which had by far the best
 
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views of the trip.
 
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Thanks to Fernando's guidance and Ilaria's perseverance, I had climbed my first mountain.

Despite the heat, we had a pretty fun hike.