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The Gift

I really, really wanted an umbrella. I'd been wanting one even before my trail entered a village where everyone but me had one.

An umbrella would allow me to walk witbout my hood on, so sweat would escape and my view would expand. An umbrella would protect my pack, helping to ensure that my sleeping bag would stay dry. An umbrella would make me happy.

I switchbacked down the town's single street until two dumpsters appeared. It's worth a check, I thought. I opened the first one and there it was: a broken umbrella. Two stays dangled free when I opened it and the handle was broken off. But I learned to use my broken trekking pole to push the broken part of tbe umbrella over the top of my pack. Life was good.

Yesterday it poured sheets and buckets all day long. I took the trail that contoured at about 1900 meters and my umbrella kept me happy. The trail ran with rivers of water until I reached a place near Alpi di Servizio where much bigger torrents ran sideways across the trail.

First I jumped one and it was okay. Then I jumped a bigger one (the one in the video) and it was borderline not okay. Then I reached something utterly impossible just across from a tiny cluster of stone buildings. Smoke came out of a smokestack and immediately blended into the rain-fog.

I walked past the tiny building when an old farmer stuck out his head. Though the rain drove down hard, the eave of his roof sheltered him. I asked if there was a bridge over the unfordable creek. No bridge, he said. I came to the sill to show him my map and water poured off of the roof and onto my umbrella. With the map on his windowsill I tried to show where I was going. He shook his head no and said the only thing for me was to go down to the valley. There was a trail that headed 900 vertical meters straight down to Campodolcino.

I tried to explain that I really wanted to continue on the high trail instead. I was hoping he might invite me inside, where I'd gladly wait a day or whatever until the rain abated and the streams went down. He kept saying Campodolcino and finally waved me off into the cloud.

So down I went to Campodolcino. I was still happy: I had my umbrella. Eventually I reached the road. and the road was crowded and narrow, and lead way, way down the valley far past where I wanted to go. And it kept raining all day. But I had my floppy umbrella. It was a good day.

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