Day 5 – Alta Via 1

Again under the forecast of 100% chance of rain, we headed off from Cortina d’Ampezzo after our lovely rest day. We bused it out again to the point where we left the track two days earlier and made our way back up into the mountains. It was a relatively short day and against the weather odds, it was again beautifully sunny (albeit with thunder clouds building around the peaks.
Our destination today was the oldest alpine hut in the Dolomites. A German man in the 1800’s came to Cortina to try to beat tuberculosis and after his recovery, set himself the challenge to walk up Novalau mountain. As a thank you for his recovery he decided to build a hut on the top of Novalau in 1883 as a safe place for local walkers, skiers and mountaineers and so was born Rifugio Novalau.
There is also a story that the hut was able to avoid being bombed in the war even though it was a head quarters for the Italians because it just so happened that the German pilot sent on the bombing mission was the nephew of the man who built it.
It was a funny old place with lots of hand written signs up on the walls forbidding one thing or another. We couldn’t understand the Italian of course, but we asked about one and were told that it said it is forbidden to take your clothes off in the bar! Apparently people sweating from the climb up were prone to stripping off articles of clothing and hanging them around the place to dry.
Being at the very top of a craggy mountain meant they also had no water except what is painstakingly pumped up each day, so no showers and no rinsing out of sweaty clothes! And being so old they had squat toilets. The dorm rooms were tiny. There was about 90 cm between the double bunk beds. And they were totally full. So needless to say Rod was not feeling very comfortable.
But it was a great experience and the view from there, although we were engulfed in thunder clouds at times, was probably the best so far.

20160902_081127(1) Pointing to our night's destination DSC_0005_10 DSC_0002_12 Climbers on Cinque Torres View from Novalau Nearly at Refugio Novalau Looking back across the valley to Refugio Langazoi

Day 4 – Alta Via 1

We headed off under the threat of rain this morning. Not that it worried us too much initially as we started the day with a 1100 m climb down through the Italian World War 1 tunnels. What a feat of engineering!

The tunnels took us too far down for our remaining route so we climbed again to the pass before having a relatively easy walk to the targetted rifugio for the day.

But we weren’t staying there. We’d organised to have a rest day in the nearby town Cortina d’Ampezzo. So we dropped down steeply all the way to the valley floor and caught a bus to cover the 30 minute ride into town. Luxury! I’m going to enjoy a good sleep after the various snorers in the dorm last night. Cortina is a beautiful little town.

Day 3 – Alta Via 1

The notes had us a bit worried. They described a section of the walk today as being particularly dangerous and the hardest part of the whole Alta Via Walk. We thought we were up for it however until we spoke to an American woman who asked if we had harnesses and tethers! The notes also said to take the alternative route if there was recent heavy rain – and guess what, it rained last night! We were starting to get a bit windy about the idea. Luckily just at the point where we had to choose one route or the other we came across a group with an English speaking guide. We asked if last night’s rain was considered “heavy” and he said no, and also that harnesses were not required. Phew!

So up we went. Or more importantly, down the other side we went! The track down was over a massive unstable landslide and very steep. The views were some of the best so far across to a distant glacier. None of my pictures do the view any credit.
We continued walking on to our rifugio for the night. As we gained height again we entered a vast area that featured in the high alpine battles in World War 1 between the Italians and the Austrian/Hungarian forces – the Lagazuoi mountain and surrounds. In 1917 the Austro-Hungarian forces held the high ridge and had tunneled their way into the rock to develop fortifications, machine gun posts,, and to shelter from the -25 degree winter weather. The Italians held the lower ledge – Martini Ledge, and tunneled their way up through the rock (1100 m) to surprise the Austrians at the top. Altogether the Italians dug out a total of 10,426 tonnes of rock in only four and a half months averaging a net advance of 5.58m every 24 hours. They eventually overcame the Austrians who were weakened by lack of food and the cold. We were able to freely crawl around the Austrian caves and tunnels at the top as we passed up to the rifugio.
We experienced the first rain just as we reached the rifugio for the night. Rod had his first experience of sleeping in a dorm with 20 other walkers – not something he took to well.

 

Day 2 – Alta Via 1

Today promised to be an easy day and it was in Alta Via 1 terms. Only 580 total height loss (all in the first 4 kms) and 530 total height gain (all in the last 5.5 kms) Yes that’s right only 9.5kms for the day.

Morning

Morning

Edelweiss

Edelweiss

Meadow

Meadow

Rifugio Fodara Velda

Rifugio Fodara Velda

Rifugio Fanes

Rifugio Fanes

End of the day

End of the day

Gallery

Day 1 – Alta Via 1 Walk

This gallery contains 7 photos.

First day walking and everything was as promised. The weather was stunning! Clear blue skies and temperatures in the high 20’s. The scenery was breathtaking. We are amongst the high shaly crags that create such a bold skyline in this … Continue reading

Dolomites Walk – Arrival Day

It feels like the adventure has really started now.
We’ve made the big hop to Munich and successfully managed to get ourselves onto the train to Dobbiaco in Italy, the starting point for our walk. Rod was temporarily distracted at the Munich airport where he introduced himself to Jessica Fox, Bronze medalist in kayaking at Rio Olympics. He of course asked for a photo. What a sporting groupie!
I accidentally had the forethought to book us first class tickets on the train which entitled us to wait in the Munich Haufbanhoff catered Lounge for the four hours after the plane landed. Very civilized. I’m amazed actually. I bought the train tickets on the German DB website and everything was written in German. Also the last leg of the journey was on an Italian regional train where it wasn’t possible to buy the tickets in advance. Even the two connections that only allowed 6 minutes to change trains worked out!
Germany is very green and the last blooms of summer abound. I made the mistake of commenting to Rod within earshot of a German woman as we came in from the airport that the countryside looked a lot like the UK. She firmly disputed this thought and only pleading my Antipodean ignorance got me out of that one. We passed a couple of breweries on the route out of the Bavarian region and all seemed to be flat out preparing for the upcoming Oktoberfest.
Within 20 minutes of leaving Munich station we were amongst the iconic Bavarian villages with their distinctive barns and church steeples.

The scenery through the alps to reach Dobbiaco was spectacular! The town itself is super expensive and alive with summer holiday makers. Looks like it is huge for skiing too in winter. Only one more sleep now.20160826_110312 20160826_115754

Off again!

Getting excited!  Last few days before we head off on our next adventure.  I hope I’m up to the 1000m climbs into the mountains each day.

First challenge however is how to close my pack!!!

Pack

Day 15 – Offa’s Dyke Walk

What a magical day to finish our walk on.  Beautiful sunny and practically clear skies.

The walk today started with an immediate very steep climb back up to the tops of the Clywdian range.  So we could see our destination pretty much all day.  It looked so close but took us about 5 hours of walking to reach.

As usual I had mixed feelings as we walked the last day.  It is great to complete something you’ve started but I love being out in the hills and the end meant the end of another adventure.

Prestatyn is a relatively new seaside town so not much to talk about but we made our way down to the sea as is the tradition (although we didn’t walk down the beach into the water as you are supposed to do). We had a celebratory beer that afternoon and a lovely dinner to celebrate that night.

Today we catch a train down to London to go to the theatre tonight with our lovely friends Kiko and Mie.

Rod still has his outing to Lord’s to watch the third day of the second test to look forward to and then it is homeward bound for us.

It has been a fantastic trip!

Day 14 – Offa’s Dyke Walk

Our second last day.

What a brilliant one as we near the end.  It started off clear but quickly clouded over and started to lightly rain.  By the time we climbed onto the Clwydian Range is had socked in.  But it got better as the day went on.

We were mostly up on the moors all day today and it was so great to be walking out in the open so high above the patchwork valley below.  We finally saw our final destination in the distance.

One of the stand out things in the distance are the (seems like) hundreds of wind turbines out off the coast standing in the sea.

We’ve dropped down into the valley tonight and will climb out steeply tomorrow morning for our last day of walking to our final destination – Prestatyn and the Irish Sea.

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Day 13 – Offa’s Dyke Walk

Another great day.  Rain off and on but never heavy.  We had considerable time up high today on scree slopes and moorland.