Lessons learned and summary:
- Be prepared for a heavy condensation during the night (humid climate in the Dolomites)
- I would really recommend firm hiking boots with ankle support for this trail
- Demanding stage full of via ferratas, exposed climbs, narrow paths and through terrain
A heavy mist came down after the dusk and turned into a dew in the morning. It’s not the first time we are waking up in completely soaked bivoaucs. The air is generally quite humid here in the Dolomites and the condensation is high. As we were falling asleep yesterday, we got disturbed by another animal…This time I’m pretty sure it was a mountain goat. Her scream frightened me at first. But a moment later I had to start laughing. I have never heard a crazier sound in my entire life.
As soon as we manage to squeeze all the wet stuff into our backpacks in the morning, we depart. Today is all about hills, rocks and via ferratas…so…nothing new under the sun.
We’re out of water again and are incredibly thirsty…also nothing new under the sun. Luckily, since there’s a refugio almost at every corner, we soon reach one¨ (Rifugio Volpi al Mulaz). After we hydrate (limón-soda is a must), we also buy a bottle of water for a poor thirsty doggo who arrived to the refugio with his master – an old mountaineer. The man bought himself a beer but didn’t bring anything for the doggo who was apparently extremely thirsty. His name was Max and he drank a good half of the 2 liter bottle we bought for him. The old man thanked us and off they went.
I take a flop on the way from refugio and fall to the rocky ground. Luckily, I land smoothly and come out without a major injury. I remain on the ground for a bit, laughing at myself. As we go on, we both continue laughing. But the good mood only lasts for a while….Unless we see what’s to come. A crazy ferrata section again. There’s a group of people climbing few dozens of meters ahead of us (or “above us” to be precise)…so we can see where we’re heading. And we don’t like that sight. We have to wait for a bit before we begin climbing as rocks are slipping under the feet of those people in front and falling down onto our heads.
Climbing up the rock is one thing but climbing down is a different story. After the steel ropes guide us to the top of the gap we have to climb down again. Apart from the ropes, we have to deal with a ladder too now. After we climb all the way down, we are rewarded by a rocky field. Mhmm…how enjoyable, especially for our knees and ankles. Speaking of joints, I’m so grateful that I took my firm high hiking boot for this adventure. I really wouldn’t want to toil and moil in trekking sneakers in such terrain. Furthermore, my ankles wouldn’t make it far.
Being thirsty again, we stop by the first trickle of water to quench our thirst and make some lunch. There’s really one crazy section after another today. No rest for the wicked. After lunch, we have to traverse along a narrow exposed path in the middle of a sharply inclined hillside. All we can see is a sheer slope below us. My head is spinning slightly. Therefore I do my best to stare straight ahead and focus on each step. There’s no room for mistakes…
The path leads us through the slope for quite a long time. Up and down, across chasms and crevices. Due to my bulky backpack, I get stuck in one such crevice. It’s comic. I can move neither forward nor backward. Finally, I manage to unstuck myself and take off my backpack balancing at a small piece of ground below my feet. Thomas helps me hold the backpack above my head and toss it over the crevice. Lucky me he was there. Otherwise I might have been stuck there still today.
Today’s stage is really demanding. Both physically and mentally. “This trek is only for masochists”, Thomas says as we approach another section with ropes. “This ain’t hiking! It’s more like goddamn rock climbing all the time“, he continues “True”, I say. “I would call it “cliking” (climbing+hiking)“. And so we keep on cliking, regreting that we chose this trek.
At 3 p.m. we are already totally exhausted. We take around an hour long break to take some rest and also to dry our things. Once back on trek, we hike for another hour or so before we reach a sunken vallley with grazing or chilling ibexes. Wow! What an interesting sight. I’ve never seen them in the wild. We decide to stay here for the night and spend the evening observing those majestic animals.