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WILD STORIES OF ABRUZZO Part 3: The loud call

2016, the sky above us was dark and cloudy. This time, besides Nicolò, there was Pietro ready to take part in the adventure. During the three hours of journey we decided to face a high altitude trail. We arrived at the car park nearby the trail; we parked the car and prepared to start the hiking. We walked on a steep trail with an altitude of 900 metres, which I faced in the most unfavorable conditions due to poor physical fitness. At high altitude we found a group of chamois: the sight refreshed the spirit and we managed to take some beautiful pictures. Chamois, protected species in the park, are very unconcerned with humans. They got used to our presence and let us approach very easily. I have had the demonstration several times.

But our journey had to continue. We left the thick forests for quite a while and, once we reached the great plateau, the cold began to penetrate through the sweaty clothes. We continued climbing through the thick mist of that fierce autumn day up to nearly 2000m of shelter where we finally put on our cumbersome backpacks and relaxed our shoulders. We prepared the dinner and consulted the map to select the route of the following day. The wind outside the structure was blowing hard and the air strikes that crossed the worn-out cracks caused a disturbing hiss. The atmosphere inside was lightened by the warm tiny fire of lit candles. It was very cold and we were tired after traveling by car and trekking to the peaks, so we went to sleep.We woke up at dawn and after we had a great breakfast, we went down a different path until we reached the center of the village where we had parked the car. We sat in front of the Wolf Faunistic Area, admiring a family of semi-captive wolves playing as children. Then we headed in proximity of another path chosen because it showed good probability of watching animals, especially wolves. The trail was shipped along the steep rise of three hundred meters in altitude. The sun was beating strong over our heads and our troubled breaths met the alert screams of the jays on the trees all around. When we left the wooded area and came to the destination, we found ourselves in front of an immense golden expanse that extended to the height to reach the highest rocky peaks, where the deer grazed undisturbed. A peregrine falcon was flying in front of our eyes. We had arrived at the beginning of another path, that would have led us to a mountainous area later, and there, in that branch of trails, we fell down to the ground enjoying the colors of a rainbow that day had given us, result of a short autumn drizzle.

Sooner I noticed traces left on the path and a dung. I came back to find it. After careful observation I noticed whitish and orange hair inside, probably coming from a deer or a roe deer and on top of a "ragged whip". It was indisputably stool of an Apennine wolf. It was fresh of a few hours! Observing the faeces of these predators can provide more than a clue to what their diet is. The obvious sign of the presence of the wolf on the territory and the chance to see it gave me positive vibes. After a few chats with the day hikers who came down the path and relaxed in the shade of a tree, we decided to hide and wait, totally camouflaged with the environment, to try to finally immortalize this extraordinary predator . He began a long wait.

Deer and wild boar were a fixed presence in the valley but the light time available after a few hours unfortunately ended, so we were forced to move to dusk with the intention of returning from the hike. Suddenly from the other mountain, we heard strong sounds echoing sharply, breaking the silence. We sat down and carefully listened to the sound that had been released trying to identify the source.They were undoubtedly howls. A pack of wolves sent their message. Was it a recall? Did a good hunting fight ended successfully? An unwanted guest in their territory? We could not know. They surely came from the mountain opposite ours so we could only see the tremendous distance and enjoy their song for the duration. It was the first time for us. It was a magnificent and intense emotion, full of tension and vibrations that still resonate in the chest today just to remember it. After having had the privilege of hearing the wolf's howling with our ears, a few tens of meters from where I was, we heard weeping screeches screaming across the plateau, probably in response to the other pack on the other side. Most likely it was four or five specimens. They were there, a few meters from us, wrapped in the darkness of the night, filling my heart of amazement, incredulity, wonder and infinite joy. We did not find them; I could say that the wolves found us, covered by the darkness, and came to offer us a natural concert in the most sublime theater. Centuries and centuries of persecution had dissolved in the mist; the wolf had approached the man and had given him an invaluable gift.That was what we experienced in those minutes, this is what I hold in memory and in my heart, because time does not erase the emotions I had in that night of deep magic. The experience with wolves was really one of the most beautiful things ever lived. That night-time meeting, like the others I had previously, was for me a source of great inspiration and motivation .It has allowed me to appreciate in depth the strength of the wildest and most precious nature. On the world we live in and on what hidden in a remote beech forest or in a mountainous area. On the interaction we have with it every day and on the way we set ourself, without thinking at the consequences and the impact our actions have on the ecosystem.

WILD ABRUZZO @ Mattia Cialoni

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