Part of the deal with the hotel is being able to participate in group hikes with a local guiding company, Catores Guides. I signed up via email, as I did not know for sure when we would arrive. On Tuesday, we scouted out the town after checking in to the hotel, and we eventually found their office. So, today, I was up to do my yoga practice, then Emily and I went down for breakfast. The breakfast was really quite nice and very good, but not in the ballpark of dinner the night before, although that would be difficult. I met at the guiding office, and the group was larger than I had hoped, around 16 plus 2 guides. We walked through town and up to a relatively new funicular that with the purchase of a ticket, takes you up around 3000 vertical feet. From there, we climbed another 500 or so vertical, then did a beautiful traverse past a lodge in the middle of nowhere to a very small church. The views on the traverse were really spectacular. One of the guides spoke a little English, but that was it. He pointed out peaks and mountain groups to me as we traversed. The pace was quite slow, which was a little frustrating, but going with the flow worked for a great day.
From the small church, we descended on very steep trails to a farmhouse that serves lunch to whatever hikers want it. The prices were reasonable, and it was nice to have a relaxing glass of wine and a local specialty with an incredible view. Really fun, nice pranzo. Again, almost no one spoke English, but I struggled with my Italian and some of my table mates struggled with some English, and we communicated well. After a break of around 1-1/2 hours, we resumed our descent, now going down steep double track roads which eventually turned into less steep dirt roads. This brought us into a small town called St. Peter, where after a 40 minute wait we were able to catch a bus back to Ortisei. I was home around 5:00. Things were a little slow, but what a great day with incredible views. I would never have found this on my own. What a pleasure and privilege to be here and be able to enjoy this.
The beautiful church at the center of town in Ortisei.
Downtown Ortisei. This is a big winter ski resort, the area is better known as Val Gardena.
One of the great views from the traverse on the hike.
Probably the best view I had of this group of the Dolomiti.
Great view spot at a sheer drop. I thought this bench was really cool, being built on a tree still rooted to the ground to hold it all together.
The lunch (pranzo) spot with the group and some other hiker / mountain bikers.