After a week of heavy rain I was excited this morning to see blue sky and it didn't take me long to decide to go hiking.
When the temperature reached 8 degrees I set off in the car in the direction of my favourite 12km route.
I found this route a few weeks ago. I drive up the hill behind our place to a nice altitude (550 metres above sea level) then wrap my headband around my ears, pull my buff down around my neck, clip my belly bag around my waist and strap my nordic walking poles onto my wrists.
Then I set off, walking across an undulating ridge which offers incredible views on both sides. I spend a glorious 2 hours looking down and across at grapevines, hill towns, country properties, shuttered houses, horses trail riding, farmers tending their grapevines and white alps.
The walk offers everything you could hope for...but todays walk also offered death. The hunters were out. I'd been walking for just over an hour when I heard the bells of hunting dogs. Then a shot rang out. The shot was so close that I jumped as I felt my chest vibrate. My first reaction was to check if I was still breathing. When I realised I was, a million questions needed to be answered. What should I do? Should I hide in the scrub? Should I sit down on the road? Should I run away? Should I be still? Should I yell out? What should I yell out?
I felt rather stupid and very exposed. Eventually I convinced myself that deer and cinghiale don't wear pink and purple and that it would be a very poor hunter who shot (at least deliberately) at me!
So I continued walking, pins and needles crawling up my spine lest another shot found me.
I made it back to the car 2 hours after I had set off but far richer for the experience...lungs bursting with oxygen, limbs tingling with the joy of movement and my living and breathing presence on earth confirmed.
Above: The view driving back down from the ridge through autumn colours with Canelli in the background