Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hike in the rain

Today, I awoke to cloudy skies and eventually to rain.  It stopped, more or less, so I proceeded with my plan for a hike.  I took the bus to the second town above Ortisei, Selva or Wolkenstein.  This part of Italy has been part of Austria a few times in the past, so most towns have two names and usually three languages are spoken.  There is an older, traditional language common only to the area which at least to me sounds like German.  From Selva, I took a large gondola to Ciampinoi, where I started my hike.  The previous days have seen a large number of hikers, but today, I was pretty much alone up there.  I proceeded out trail 21 to trail 21a, then connected to #526.  The scenery was again quite spectacular.  The clouds came and sometimes tried to go, but mists covered the peaks most of the time.  Part of the hike was directly below one of the highest of the Dolomiti peaks called Sassolungo.  Just before reaching the Elingo Comici hut, the rain really started.  I had been out around 40 minutes, and luckily the hut was quite close.  I took shelter in the hut, and ordered a hot chocolate.  As I drank the Ciocolatta Calda, the hut quickly filled with wet and cold looking hikers.  I had seen a relatively large group starting a traverse below the Sassolungo, and it appears they decided to return.  The wind had picked up, and it was raining quite hard.  I gave it some time, but it did not appear to be clearing, but the rain let up a little.  I knew it was only a half hour moving quickly, to the top of the gondola, and I put all the clothes on I had with me and headed out.  I left my real rain pants in Florence, and the light ones I had were soaked quickly.  The wind had picked up to around 30 mph, so it was quite a little jaunt.  The thermometer at the hut read 5 degrees centigrade, and I did see my first snow flakes (graupel) of the season on the return.  Visibility had dropped to around 50 yards, and even re-tracing my footsteps, I made a wrong turn just before the gondola.  I returned to the gondola, and changed into warmer, dry pants and made my way down the hill.  I caught the bus, and had brought Emily's umbrella, so I got home relatively dry and warm.  I took a hot bath, then Emily and I were off to town to try some lunch, as the rain had stopped.

While we ate (a wurstel con crauti at the food cart) the skies cleared, and we saw blue sky.  We returned to the hotel, and I proceeded with plan B.  I walked back to the center of town and took the gondola to Mont Seuc, a 3200 vertical rise from town.  There, I read my book and enjoyed what is called an Radler, which is a combination of lemon soda and draft beer.  The guides had drank this on Wednesday when I went with them.  It was great.  The scenery was awesome, with some clouds clinging to the highest peaks.  Back to the hotel for spa time, then a final incredible dinner later tonight. How lucky we are to be able to do and enjoy this.

Marmolata in the background with the edge of the Gruppo Sella in the foreground.

Misty clouds around the Gruppo Sella.

Clouds around the Sassolungo.

A shot of the Sassolungo with the trail on the side.

Sassolungo and trail.

The trail that traverses below the Sassolungo.

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