Before this adventure, I did loads of homework on the locations of the hikes which were listed in our itinerary. I tried to find gpx files, read other peoples trip reports and looked at photos. For me this is all a part of the anticipation. I did not though read the significance of the locations or the history of the areas. Today's hike put lots of things into perspective for me. While I was appreciating this trip, immensely enjoying everything about it, today's hike confirmed how fortunate I am in life to be able to do what I want, when I want, where I want, how I want. For this I am truly grateful!
Once again the church bells ring loud and clear at 6:30am and I take that as my reminder it's time to get ready to begin another extraordinary day in this peace of paradise in the Dolomites of Italy. Once again too, the forecast reads wear sunscreen, bring lots of water and sport the shorts. Once again also, our ride picks us up at our front door at 8:30 for a 30 drive whisking us off to the playground.
Today's goal is to reach the summit of Monte Piana and explore the plateau. To do this we first had to make an unexpected creek crossing. A portion of the trail and the bridge had been washed out by a flash flood. We accomplished the crossing, next we attacked the steep climb and then took on the switchbacks. We arrived at a wide open space with a 360 degree view. The Tre Cime were directly in front of us. I zoomed in on the hutte and could see a few people checking out the place. We had a lovely long lunch break here.
It was time to hit the summit of Monte Piana so we added on a little more elevation gain. This place is full of war history. Note to self: need to follow up on the historical facts. We meandered around the area working our way to the summit cross and gingerly stepping as we got closer to the edge. Peeking over the edge gave me butterflies in my stomach.
We left the summit and hiked almost the entire length of the plateau to where we would intersect the trail and begin the descent. Part of it was off trail, then on trail, then on gravel, then road. Our ride was waiting for us. What another incredible day in paradise!
our hike began by walking along Lago Antorno
It was a calm, hot, humid morning.
the calm afforded us mountain reflections in Lago Antorno
views began right from the get-go
We crossed the road which is the entrance to the Nature Park with the Tre Cime being the main attraction up there. We veered off to hike through the meadow. We would be leaving the vehicle and people traffic well behind.
view from the meadow
notice the switchbacks up the side middle left
We could see our route down which would come at the end of the day and is the beige line descending from the top left. Last week our guide took his group up that road due to large amounts of snow still on the main ascent route. Fortunate for us, lots of snow melted over the past number of days and we did not have to resort to the road to ascend.
Yes, I still say fortunate for us we did not have to hike up the road, even after part of the trail was washed away along with the bridge that crosses the fast flowing creek. I whined a bit when I realized we were facing a barefooted creek crossing in fast flowing freezing cold water. Once safely on the other side I let the whining go.
By now a significant amount of time had passed, the morning hours were passing, the temperature was increasing and we were now facing the warned about steep climb in wide open spaces with no shelter from the sun. In no time at all, I could see back down to where the mess of rubble was and where we crossed the creek.
Thankfully the swtichbacks offered a reprieve and it was somewhat more easy going. All that is relative! We reached an open area where we were now having amazing 360 degree views from up high. I could see too the direction we would be eventually heading to summit Monte Piana.
We would eventually be up behind and beyond this wall!
passing by a pretty place on our way to dine
We reached an area below the big main plateau and settled down for quite some time. I felt like I was one with the Dolomites. This is as far to the edge that I dare scootch for a destination shot.
right in front of us is Tre Cime de Lavaredo (three chimneys)
Our guide pointed out the spot where I put an orange star.
I zoomed in to see up close Rifugio Locatelli
an Italian Dolomite crocus
our lunch spot with a front row seat to a prime time view
One of the ladies in our group is a yoga instructor. She was performing poses wanting a new photo to add to her site. When I saw what she was doing, being the copy cat that I am, I wanted to do it. She guided me through how to get to this position and to be able to hold it. It wasn't until I uploaded my photos later that day that I saw how perfectly I am pointing to the tallest cime.
of course I needed a jumping photo proving I am high on life
After quite some time invested in our lunch break, we carried on with our day and carried on up higher to the plateau of Monte Piana. Fortunate again were we for the lack of snow up here. The plateau of Monte Piana is the location of a violent battle during WWI between Italy and Austria. There are many trenches and tunnels located all over the plateau. We gingerly worked our way around them. Numerous monuments are located here also. Previous I had read there was an open-air museum up here but did not really understand what that meant. Now I know! I thought about the many men that lost their lives up here and even though my Dad did not fight in this war but faught in WWII, I still thought of him. In a way it felt erie to be here, this is where those lots of things I talked about earlier were put into perspective for me.
We stood as close to the edge here as safely possible and I could see bunker entrances on the sides and also locations where the holes were cut into the mountain side to place guns.
We headed towards the summit of Monte Piana.
looking straight down from the summit to the valley below
My Monte Piana summit shot!
After visiting the summit and learning more of the history of this place, we carried on along the plateau, once again passing by trenches and monuments. We even saw the entrance to a trench that had a sign stating is was the restaurant down below underneath.
looking over at the trail where we were earlier in the day
crosses and monuments and signs
Our guide lead the way through the snow making sure it was flat ground underneath.
I asked him to capture a photo of me walking along. I like this look. It once again puts things into persective and shows how small and insignifant I look in this vast area on Monte Piana in the Italian Dolomites.
We reach the start of our descent route and I can see the general direction of where we need to end up and that is over there by that lake in the center. The route is that beige line I pointed out near the beginning of my story. It is a long, narrow, winding road.
descending from Monte Piana
one last photo of this peace of paradise called the Dolomites
This was the last hike. How poignant of a hike to end on. Our ride was waiting for us at the bottom. We boarded the bus and in 30 minutes we were back at our home away from home. We had two hours to pass before meeting in the dining room for our last supper which this time around was candle lite, yet still as before was decatant, divine and delicious. This was an amazing day filled with fun times and great memories.