By SonjaPublished On: August 24, 2022Categories: Soulhike3426 wordsViews: 606
The first time I saw the Alps I was amazed and wanted to spend more time hiking there. The first time I saw the Dolomite Alps my reaction was far, far stronger. I was in love! The views from anywhere in the Dolomites are almost unreally beautiful.
Most people I know go to the Dolomites to ski on the numerous ski paths, or those of my running friends, to test their endurance in the Lavaredo Ultra trail. I wanted to experience the Dolomites in a more immersive way, by hiking to the most beautiful or the most interesting places I could find in the area around Cortina. I wanted to be able to stop and admire the view whenever I felt like it, and sit and eat my lunch wherever I wanted. I am fortunate that my partner Rafael has a lot of trust in me, and without any hesitation agreed to go to a six-day hiking trip that I would plan myself.
The planning took some time, but it was well worth it. We went to six hikes that I had planned, and one that I hadn’t. Two locations were left for some other time. All in all, our hikes were on easy hiking paths, with some more difficult elements only on the last day. We were able to enjoy all the hikes in all those days without blisters, or dehydration, or painful knees. I was very happy that my planning helped us stay immersed in the beauty of the moment and not worry about whether we will be too tired for the next day.
The beauty of the landscape was so intense, that at times I felt as if all of it was just scenography of a movie I am a part of. It was as if I was at the same time part of the landscape, but also watching from somewhere else. The feeling was strange, and added to the magic of the Dolomites.
The mountains are hard work; but also a way of life, in silence, in time, in nature.
When I was planning the hiking trip, I was surprised to see that one easy trail goes right through the village where our apartment was situated. It was a perfect prelude to more demanding hikes in the following days. We started walking sometime late in the afternoon, after we settled in and ate our lunch. The days were long, as the longest night of the year was only two days away. We walked for an hour and a half, enjoyed beautiful views of the Marmolada, and learned a little of local history. It was quite refreshing.
Nextl hike I had planned that we would walk uphill, and later descend by cable car. If the trail is steep, and you are over 40, it might be a good idea to spare your knees, and be fresh for the next hike.
The views from Rifugio Lagazuoi are amazing, and we spent almost an hour admiring them, whether from a viewing point, or from a table enjoying refreshing beer and tasty apple strudel.
On the way uphill we took a little detour to see one part of the Open air museum of the First World War, or as they call it there: The Great War (Grande Guerra). The Dolomite Alps were the frontlines where Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies fought. They dug shelters and trenches, tunnels and machine gun posts, both in the rock and icebergs, and all that without modern day machines.
After the Lagazuoi hike, it was still early in the day, so we decided to take a short hike to the the five towers (Cinque Torri), one of the most popular locations in the area. To me the towers are interesting, but the most beautiful part of this hike is the forest, full of amazing flowers. And again, close to the rifugio Scoiatoli is another part of the Open air museum of the Great War. The trenches are very interesting to see, with a number of information tables. On an unrelated note, I can not believe that anyone who has seen the consequences of war can even think of starting one!
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
One of the most popular places in the region around Cortina d’Ampezzo is Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three peaks of Lavaredo), also called Drei Zinnen. We took the toll road that goes all the way up to the mountain hut at the foot of the three peaks (at 2320 m altitude). We were there on a Tuesday, hoping to avoid the crowd, but even on a Tuesday the huge parking lot was almost full. The view from the hut is amazing, a whole lot of rocky mountain peaks.
The trail was mostly very easy, with a lot of people around, some dressed appropriately for the mountains, and some in sandals. There was even a group of kids that looked like they were on a school excursion. On the upside, we met a nice woman from Luxembourg who took a great photo of us.
The trail was nice, the views were so amazing that at times I managed to forget about the crowd. We chose the trail that goes all around the three peaks, and we took some nice photos. Just as we were at the back of the three peaks it started raining. I was so happy that I could test the jacket that I had been carrying in my backpack for the last couple of days. As the rain started, some people on the trail took out their jackets or thin raincoats, while others had nothing and didn´t seem very happy in the rain. My jacket passed the test, I was completely dry underneath it.
As they say: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment.
Lago di Fedaia and a museum
The fourth day was rainy, and anyway I had decided that we need to take it easy. In the morning we visited Lago di Fedaia, a lake at the foot of the Marmolada mountain group. We were surprised at the low level of water in the lake, which now seems to have been a prediction of the long summer drought. Even though it was raining, we took a walk in the forest above the lake. And again we could see the remains of the fortifications from the Great War, this time from the Austrian troops. The position of the Italian forces was far uphill, in the gacier of the Marmolada.
Later we visited this small but amazing museum: Museo Vittorino Cazzetta in Selva di Cadore. The exibits I most wanted to see were from the archaeological site Mondeval de Sora (2150 m above sea level), where remains of a mesolithic man were found. We visited the site itself the next day. The museum really fulfilled my expectations, and more. The arcaeological section was really good, and there was a reconstruction of how people in the mesolithic lived in Mondeval.
Passo Giau – Mondeval
The first time I saw the landscape at Passo Giau, I felt I was at the most beautiful place in the whole world! This time I planned a nice hike from this beautiful place to the spot that even mesolithic people found amazing – Mondeval de Sora.
I must say that this was the most beautiful hike of all. The meadows were wide and smelled of honey, there were so many alpine flowers, the little stream cascaded downhill, and the surrounding peaks were unreal in the sun. We even spotted a family of marmots, really close to the archaeological site. I can see how our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have found this place a real paradise in the summer months. In the museum we learned that they occupied Mondeval from June to September, and that there was a small lake with fish at the bottom of the Mondeval valley.
The hike with a stop for sandwiches took about four hours.
Lago di Sorapis
A couple of years ago I was so envious of some friends who went to Lago di Sorapis. This year it was finally my turn!
I had heard that the hike is not too difficult and not steep at all. I thought that that was perfect for our last hike. Well, the hike does start easy, from Passo Tre Croci. The easy trail becomes a single track along the mountain side, getting more and more steep. I have some issues with fear of heights, but nothing serious. When we got to the place where there was a 500 meter drop on the left, and a rock wall on the right, I really had to concentrate to not let the fear thing grow too much. To be honest, all seemingly dangerous places on the trail have metal ropes you can hold on to, and we saw families with kids go there. It´s just that I would never say that that trail is easy, that´s all. Just goes to show that easy is relative.
The lake, when you get to it is really dreamy. The color is unbelievable! There were a number of people resting on rocks or the shore of the lake, but the atmosphere was still so peaceful. Lago di Sorapis is a must if you are in the area. Oh, it took us two hours to get there, and two to get back to Passo Tre Croci.
Sonja is an explorer, exploring the outdoors by hiking, trail running, or her favorite - orienteering. Exploring is also embedded in her day job which is always connected to research and new knowledge.