Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Dolomites Part Two--Hike to Rifugio Bolzano

You know the saying that truth is stranger than fiction? Are you ready for one of those stories?

I explained last post that my husband and I were hiking in the Dolomites with backpacks full of things like bottles of wine and flip flops...not exactly survival gear. This is because you don't need much of anything when you hike in this area, due to the fact the place is riddled with boarding houses for hikers and climbers. (called a Rifugio, or hut) So we certainly didn't need a tent, which was a good thing because I no longer owned one that worked.You see, poles are needed for a tent to be functional, and I left mine behind at Upper Lyman Lake in Washington State weeks before.
(for the full story )
No, this stranger than fiction tale has nothing to do with the Dolomites, but instead how I got my tent poles back. I'll try to make it brief, so I can get back to the hiking story.

I thought I had found my poles when I called the Leavenworth ranger station and they said someone had turned some in. Imagine my disappointment when I drove there only to find they weren't mine. (though, I was a little comforted by the fact I'm not the only space-case hiker around) I was not hearing anything back from Marmot about replacing them, and overall I was losing hope. This is when my oldest daughter, Amber, called me at work to tell me she knew where my poles were...her science teacher had them. Huh?
Naturally filtered water right on the trail--so cool

Amber reminded me she had borrowed my tent several weeks prior for a kayaking science trip she was taking through the college. She explained she had written down her science teacher's phone number in case of emergency, but thought she had lost it. Get turns out it had gotten stuck INSIDE one of the poles, and fell out when the people who found it at Lyman Lake took them out to have a look. How crazy is that? Of course, the science teacher could only wonder, "Tent poles? What tent poles?" when they gave him a call. Thankfully, for some reason he eventually thought of Amber. (maybe because, like her mother, she's always losing things) Yesterday I went to the college and picked them up, and now I don't have to buy a new tent! (side note: Marmot did eventually contact me and offered to replace my poles, which makes them a top notch company for sure)
Goats blocking the trail

Anyway...I concluded my last post with the exciting disclosure from our host at Rifugio Bergamo that there was indeed a route to another "hut" (the one I really wanted to stay at) that could easily be achieved in one day. What I failed to ask about was the difficulty of this path...but we were soon to find that out.

The book I had bought about the Dolomites categorized the hikes in three ways: Grade 1=easy. Grade 2=medium with reasonable amount of fitness required. Grade 3=Strenuous, sometimes with exposed stretches requiring aid by anchored cable. The #3's looked pretty exciting, but I decided against doing anything that challenging...but fate decided otherwise.
This isn't so bad...yet
When we got to the first cable, it was "Wow, this is cool! Take my picture!" By the time we were at the fifth or sixth one and up about 7,500 feet or so, it changed to "OMG...I feel like I'm going to pass out!" (which really would not have been a good thing) I didn't like the sensation at all, and found it hard to calm myself down. (mostly because I couldn't stop breathing as if I were in labor. Former climber Ken, of course, was completely unfazed)
"Wish I had an overhang"

See that big drop off to the right? We just came straight up that.
You can also see another Rifugio behind me in the distance.
(Alpe di Tires, I believe)
Thankfully, once we were past that section, it didn't take too long before we could see in the distance the beautiful Rifugio Bolzano.

Just look at it! Can you blame me for wanting so badly to stay there? Once we were checked in, had our backpacks safely in our room, and had our fill of beer and delicious soup at the restaurant, we set out to conquer the top of Mount Pez. 

The cute restaurant inside. A cook actually passed us on the trail,
hiking to work with his apron on. Can you imagine?

We didn't speak German, they spoke very little English, but we all understood beer!

8,400 feet (only an extra 400 feet from where we were) and what a view! Considering this is a European hike, I suppose I really should use meters--but whatever. I grew up in the states, and my school gave up trying to open my mind to the metric system after the sixth grade.
Mt. Pez. A place of sacrifice all the way into
the Middle Ages.

Thanks to my Dolomites book, we had directions on how to get to Compaccio the next day, where we took the gondola car down to Suisi and caught the bus back to Bolzono. (though I have to say, the signs and markers are quite exceptional, making finding your way around these mountains very doable) One thing you need to know once you get to Suisi; even though all the other buses pick you up in the parking lot, the Bolzono bus needs to be caught on the road just down the hill. (a kind bus driver on his break somehow communicated this to us in German when he noticed we had been sitting there for over an hour) 

I hope this information is helpful for anyone who is considering doing a 3 day hike in the Dolomites. As long as you don't have a car to get back to, I really think this route is your ticket. I might also suggest first seeing if you can pay to have your luggage/backpacks checked at a hotel in Bolzono; something I didn't think about until it was too late.

Even though I'm anxious to put my newly functioning tent back to use, I'm afraid you won't be hearing from me again until next season. I'm pretty much adventure filled at the moment, and we seemed to have skipped autumn and gone straight to winter here in the northwest. So for now I will have to say, arrivederci (or auf Wiedersehen) my friends!
Our new besties at Rifugio Bolzano...
wish I could remember their names.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kellbell,
    This was an entertaining and humorous read! You are a story teller.
    I actually have come across your blog before - I remember it because of its unique title, and inspiring nature. Hope Europe was fun. If you are back in WA, the larches at Ingalls lake are in full fall colors now.
    Thanks for your comment, and invitation to read this blog. I shall be back!
    God bless you.