Alta Via 1 - an exhilirating trail in the Italian Dolomites
Next morning saw us walking down a steep trail through forest, to a lovely meadow path full of wild flowers. All the way we were surrounded by magnificent mountains and enormous pink and white rock outcrops.
We reached Giau Pass mid morning, and continued up to Forcella Giau (2,360m), where wild horses ran to meet us, sucking and tugging at our clothes.
Continuing up a rocky trail, we passed several Mesolithic sites, where hunters used to close off the five passes in the valley, to trap ibex, elk and deer.
We walked on over a chaos of fallen rocks and boulders, and another moun- tain pass - at last reaching’ Citta de Fiume,’ our second refuge. Towering above the hut was ‘Pelmo’ - a rock outcrop which glowed in the sun’s last rays
Leaving early the next morning, for Tissi Refuge, we wandered down a shady valley to ‘Staulanza Pass, and a really beautiful refuge. From there it was uphill - to the top of the Cervetta chairlift; where cyclists retrieved their bikes and tore back down the slope..
It was a long hot day, with temperatures ranging from 39 to 41 degrees, and with a very steep ‘crawl’ to Coldai Refuge.
Here the views were simply magnifi- cent. Coldai is situated in the heart of the Civetta, the most impressive rock wall in the Dolomites. Huge mountains surrounded us as we sat enjoying the view for a couple of hours.
The trail continued through white limestone towards Tissi with lots of scrambling over jagged rocks, but when we met bikers struggling down, we decided we had it easy.
By time we arrived at 4.45pm. it was definitely Happy Hour, and luckily all refuges have a bar.
Tissi will be remembered for it’s yummy thick vege soup, and delicious apple strudel.
Our fourth day started with a lovely meadow walk down to Vazzoler
From here the trail climbed steeply through Conifer woods and Beech forest, passing the Col of the Bear, where in days gone by, bears were hunted to extinction.
We continued on through dwarf pines, hanging on to wire ropes to negotiate rocky outcrops, passing several old ruins, and climbing over another mountain pass to reach Carrestiato Refuge just before a storm hit.
Towering above, was San Sebastiano, one of the longest and most difficult rock
climbs in this area. After a night of thunder and lightning and heavy rain, we abandoned our plans, and instead, took a trail down through conifer forest to the village of Agordo.
We stayed in a cozy B & B owned a couple whose son had a vineyard near Melbourne. They were excited to meet people from ‘that side of the world’, and shared a couple of bottles of Yarra Valley wine with us.
After another ‘feast’ for breakfast, we travelled to La Pizza, and walked steadily uphill to reach ‘Bianchet’ - a lovely refuge.
Dropping our packs we continued on up a well graded track through alpine gardens, and majestic rock outcrops to ‘Fontana,’ where again, views were spectacular as we watched the sun setting behind the peaks.
Next morning we retraced our steps, and caught a bus to Belluno - a beautiful town, with majestic old buildings. We spent the night here, before catching a train to Venice, and the end of our Dolomite Adventure.
It is an incredibly beautiful place, easy to find your way around, and lots of friendly locals very willing to advise.
Above left: Barbz on the trail to Giau Pass. Below left: Scoiattoli Refuge. Below right: The Dolomite Towers by Scoiattoli Refuge. Above right: Lago Coldai just below Coldai Refuge. Middle right: Tissi Refuge.
Above left: The trail to Giau Pass. Above right: Wild horses at Forcella Giau.