The Trip of My Dreams in the Dolomites
With achy muscles and newfound pride, I opened the door to the rifugio and was welcomed by a warm cappuccino and vegetable soup with wienerschnitzel. Today we chose the “hard route,” starting from our hotel in Passo Pordoi, I, along with two brave travelers and our guide, Matthias, hiked up 2,000 feet to the snowy ridge of Forcella Pordoi, before continuing another 1,000 feet to the summit of Piz Boe (elevation 10,341′).
Our fellow travelers watched our slow and steady progress from the gondola as we looked like little (but mighty!) ants going up the mountain. This hike came after 4 days of hiking through the Italian Dolomites. Our legs were tired but used to the routine by now. We drank our coffees at the rifugio that sat at the top of the summit, with prayer flags flying and beautiful views sprawled out before us. For me, the whole trip was worth it for having just that singular moment. Better yet, the days before and after held some of the most gorgeous hikes I have ever trekked.
The Dolomites lie on the northern border of Italy, and Austria. The mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is filled with history. During WWI, it became a battleground; bunkers and trenches were built into the ridges, some of which we visited at the Cinque Torri open-air museum.
The region is also well known for the discovery of “Otzi the Ice Man,” a mummy that has been dated to be 5,300 years old. Besides its rich history, it draws tourists from near and far for world-renowned skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. The stark contrast of the white rock against the patches of green grass, with its jagged peaks and towers makes the mountain range a sight to behold.
We wasted no time getting into our boots and unlocking our hiking poles. After a quick stop in Innsbruck, we set off for a day of adventure at Lago di Braises and were greeted immediately with crystal blue water and rolling hills.
The trip was designed in that we would always take the path less traveled. This avoided the crowds, especially at the popular sites like Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Cinque Torri. Tourists flood to these sites for a photograph and maybe a small hike. Our group hiked in from afar, taking in the views of the valleys along the way, stopping for snack to sit amongst the wildflowers. I feel immensely lucky that I was able to view Lago di Braises and Cinque Torri from above, and witness Tre Cime from a distance, from behind, and smack dab in front. Every hike felt like we were taking the scenic route.
With hiking, comes adventure, and with adventure, comes hailstorms. Isn’t that what they say? Before the trip, the forecast had shown rain for all 9 days. By Day 4, with no rain, we were counting ourselves lucky. While hiking to Passo Giau the clouds rolled in and the landscape took on a grey hue. As we meandered through a herd of cows, completely unbothered by the weather, I snapped a photo of the hills that suddenly looked like they were covered with a green velvet blanket. Moments later, the hail began and we made a sprint through the remaining half mile to the rifugio. Of course, as soon as we arrived the storm had passed. Nevertheless, a cup of warm hot chocolate awaited us inside and it hit just the spot.
I miss many things about this trip, one in particular that was quite surprising. I miss the sound of cowbells. Yes, cowbells. Besides the four-course dinners, the ever changing scenery, and the spas and saunas that were the perfect way to unwind. Apart from, the quaint towns of Cortina and Bolzano, and the conversations shared over meals and a split granola bar on the trail. What I miss the most are cowbells. I never knew that the sound could be so serene. Nevertheless, here I am, looking up sleeping playlists of cowbells hoping it will transport me back to the hills of the Dolomites.
Many thanks to MT Sobek, our guides, and my fellow travelers for making this trip one for the books. It’s not often that you set out on an adventure and return with the trip of your dreams.