I strolled through the silent forest with My best friend Milo who is my guardian when walking deep into the biggest and oldest natural forest in Europe. Milo by the way is a German Shepherd and very big. There is no sound apart from us clumsily walking over the undergrowth of fallen branches and leaves, where even if we tread carefully one cannot avoid to make the sound of branches snapping or rocks tumbling, occasionally slipping on the moss covered boulders which have built up to give the effect that the rocks are soft. This was natures own doing, where trees have grown in the harshest conditions, there roots were like serpents taking hold wherever they could. At this point I thought of the film Lord of the Rings, thinking! This must have been the type of forest that gave him the idea to write such a book.
We continued to climb, but it was tough going, and at one point felt completely lost in this wilderness, as by now we were deep into the forest plus somewhat disoriented with no roads or signs to follow, just instincts to rely on. It really was a wilderness, a beautiful wilderness of something difficult to explain, where time seemed to have stood still. Oh time I thought, yes how long have we been walking, it must have been hours, what time is it?..I have no idea, best I look at my phone, its in my rucksack, well it should have been! Dam I must have left it in the car?..Oh no I am without phone, no maps, or GPS, stay calm I thought, just sit down and all will be alright its easy. What goes up must come down, so first of all I need to head only down, then look for broken branches, oh shit there are broken branches everywhere, which ones are mine? Milo of course Milo he is a German Shepherd “right” That’s it then it now depends on Milo. First of all we ate some crackers and drank water, “andiamo” Milo andiamo a casa I said, he looked alert as if he understood Italian, so off we went.
He was always in front checking the ground and the air to see if we were on the right trail, I started to feel safe, I just hoped we were going in the right direction. Now it was starting to rain so one had to be very careful not to slip on the wet leaves or moss covered stones, now to add to this there was only an hour or so of light left with the day slipping away faster and faster. I thought I have no torch or light, but for sure if I am heading in the right direction we should pick up the gravel road soon, why haven’t I heard any cars passing as this road is the main passage in and out the forest. I started to get concerned again, as by now I am soaked right through and feeling cold. I started shivering and thinking of my lovely cottage home, sat next to the wood burner eating a hot meal. So still we trundle on, I can’t stop or I will get even colder.
Milo was great, stopping to see if I was ok but always ahead of me. Then just as I was thinking we had gone the wrong way Milo stopped, he waited and barked, so I started to run towards him, what is it Milo, but in the fading light I could not see, probably another dog, or hopefully a person I came closer and closer, then there it was a tiny path which mountain bikers use, so do I go left or right?..Milo chose left, now quite dark, his pace quickened into a jog, I can’t keep up, he is out of sight “Milo” “Milo” I shouted where are you, I felt scared, I was a!one in the dark, where was Milo. This area is full of old mine shafts and pot holes so I hope he is not in one of those I thought.
In the distance I could hear a dog bark, not sure if it was Milo. It must be who else or what else would be in a dark forests in the rain, I am now feeling anxious and scared, I heard noises, the sound of something running fast, in my direction, it sounded to big to be Milo, I hope its not a wild boar, the sound drew closer, I felt scared then braced myself for whatever i might encounter. I held my long walking pole out in front of me ready to strike. The noise stopped it was silent, oh Milo where are you. Then I felt something cold and damp in my left hand, I touched and moved slowly, not realising it was his cold wet nose, I was scared. Then I felt something warm and soft on my hand!..It was Milo licking my hand, thank god you are safe, I now attached his lead not wanting to be alone again and continued along the trail almost running, anxious to find out why he was barking.
Ten minutes later we were on the gravel road, now I remember this, so Milo took us left but I was sure its right so let’s continue anyway I thought trusting my German Shepherd’s instincts. Five minutes later I saw a red light in the distance and thought it must be another car, but there was no sound, then as we were closer I could see it was the reflection of my rear light highlighted by the moon that was now just rising. Its my car at last, now we can return home to the warmth of the wood burner, hot meal, and a nice red wine. Now where did I put my keys?