Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Dolomites, Italy - Day 4 & 5

Wednesday 4 June - day 4

After 3 days strenuous hiking, and a forecast for mid afternoon thunderstorms, we agreed that today should be a lazy day.  We still managed 8 kms as we explored the environs of Cortina.

The storms rolled in as expected and we were grateful not to be out on trail.

Thursday 15 June - day 5.

Rail Trail

In the early 1900's the Dolomites alternated between Austrian and Italian rule. In 1916 the Italians commenced building a railway line to assist in their war with Austria. When the Italians retreated, the Austrians continued the build. Long story short the line from Dobbiaco in the north, to Calalazo south of Cortina, was completed in 1921 and electrified by 1929. I haven't been able to establish why it was decommissioned in 1962, but at some point since, it has been converted to a hiking and cycling trail which is now a part of the Munich / Venice cycle trail of 560 kms.

We chose to hike just 19 kms. The earliest bus we could catch to our starting point of Lago di Landro,  north of Cortina, was 10.05 am. [3 euro] Lago di Lamdro sits at 1428 m.

Our starting point.  

It was a 5 km gradual ascent to 1530 m, before the 14 km descent back to Cortina.

Great signage.

We were always surrounded by peaks.

Welcome shade in the heat.

Popular rest spot with cyclists, especially if they have cycled up from Cortina.

The descent commences.

On occasion, the road paralleled the trail. This is definitely not a sign I would see where I live.

One of the few remaining stations along the line.

The first of 2 tunnels.

Before entering the tunnel, there was a view to a rail bridge, high across the gorge.

Tunnel 2.

Entering Cortina.

  During the nearly 4 hours, of yet again hot walking, I counted 197 cyclists passing us in either direction. I only spotted 7 hikers and they were in the first kilometre and more than likely just out for a stroll. Whilst being so popular with so many cyclists, we still felt it was as much our trail as theirs. After our previous strenuous days it was a much needed relaxing hike, but still surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Dolomites.

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Dolomites, Italy - Day 3

Tuesday 13 June 

Initially on our arrival in Cortina, the spring bus schedules had not begun. This meant we would not be able access Tre Cime de Lavarado, the number one trail to hike in the Dolomites. Huge disappointment.

We had arrived on a Saturday and thankfully over the weekend an assessment of the spring like conditions was made, with the bus companies announcing that a number of routes would now have timetables. So, so lucky and grateful not to have missed this paradise of peaks and vistas.

We were first in the queue, for the first bus of the day, at 8.37 am. It was a half hour journey to the small town of Misurina, where thankfully, the bus had a ten minute stop, allowing me to enjoy these glorious surroundings.

This photo was actually taken on our return journey. Tre Cime is almost in view on the RHS.

From Misurina, it was a slow journey up the steep, elbow bend winding road.

View back down to Misurina from the Refugio Auronzo car park.

Our starting point at Rif. Auruonzo, looking down into the Val de'Auronzo - wow!

The trail we took from Rif. Auronzo.

It was actually quite flat and wide, but with a steep drop off to Frank's right. 

Panorama from here.

View down and a second trail for the intrepid.

View up from the trail to the back of the Tre Cime.

The Memorial Chapel of the Three Peaks.

The circle pinpoints the chapel below the towering peaks. We had taken a side trail down to the end of the ridge, to have closer views of the Val de' Aruronzo.

World War 1 monuments overlooking the valley. Tre Cime in the background.

Returning to the chapel, the trail continued below the Tre Cime peaks to Rifugio Lavaredo [2344 m]. Here we commenced the narrow, steep for us, ascent to Forcella di Lavaredo [2454 m]. 

We were greeted by more breath talking views, not only of the surrounding panorama, but also of the front view of the 500 metres high, Tre Cime.

Our next destination is Refugio Locatelli [circled]. The arrow points to the descent we took, after our lunch break at this rifugio.

On this section of the hike to Rif. Locatelli, more sheer rock faces and pinnacles, towered above us. How perfect is this window in the rock?

Looking back to Tre Cime Peaks from Rif, Locatelli.

Our lunch view at Rifugio Locatelli, was of the opposite direction to the 3 peaks. The temperature had risen to the high 20's, [not at all normal.] so we were glad to have a change of shirts with us.

Energised after our break, we commenced the descent required to continue our circuit of these magnificent peaks. In this photo, you can see the trail we have already traversed to Refugio Locatelli from the Tre Cime peaks.

The pink line is the trail we took to Rif. Locatelli and the blue line is the beginning of our descent. The trails briefly joined.

These phenomenal peaks stayed with us for an amazing length of time, as the trail dipped and flattened, twisted and turned. Just totally awesome!

Final major descent.

Getting lower.

Now down. Time for a breather before....................

......... the up.

Looking back to Refugio Locatelli, our lunch stop.

Our final glimpse of the peaks.

Spot the hikers walking around this small glacial lake.

The final kilometre or two. 

A school excursion slowed us down on this narrow ledge. Wonderful to see the group being inspired  to enjoy nature, but totally relieved to not be in charge. 
Our view to Misurina returns.

At this point we could see the carpark and were watching the time to make sure we caught the 3.10 pm bus back to Cortina. We got talking to a lovely family from South Africa, who offered to take this photo. We reciprocated and then fell into discussion of cricket and rugby union battles between our two countries. Our bus appeared and we had to make a mad dash so as not to miss it. Little did we realise [very poor timetable readers], that once we got to Mesurina, we would sit for 2 hours before  our driver returned to deliver us back to Cortina. Remember the morning views? Well we weren't too upset and soon found coffee and pastries to enjoy, as we relaxed in these spectacular surroundings. 

We were far too early for the alpine flowers, but those I saw, filled me with wonder and joy.

A truly magnificent day in these unique mountains. Feeling so incredibly fortunate.

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