We are back home, the laundry is done, groceries purchased and we are planning our next adventure. So that must mean it is time to write about our trip to Italy.
Last year, we went off in search of snow at Christmas and it was disappointing. Yes, Austria was gorgeous, but the facilities seemed to be predisposed to skiing only. Although the literature included activities geared to snowshoeing, in reality the promises fell flat. So we were determined that this time we would find the perfect holiday for us. Google is our friend. Our search led us to Collett’s Mountain Holidays, whose brochure seemed to promise everything we wanted in a winter holiday. They fulfilled our dreams and more. We can’t praise them highly enough and will likely pay a return visit. Activities were scheduled for each day for skiers, walkers and included two different snowshoe routes with an escort familiar with the terrain. For those not wishing to participate in an organized excursion, maps and other information were available. We stayed in a lovely efficiency unit in Badia (formerly Pedraces), a village nestled in a valley in the Dolomites of Northern Italy.
We took it slow, which was wise, considering that it had been an entire year since the last snowshoe expedition. The first two outings were a bit shorter, 8-10 km in duration, with gradual elevation changes and a medium difficulty level. Day three was killer….we hiked uphill for about 5 km, to a small plateau just large enough for the three of us to relax and eat our lunch. I can’t tell you how amazing the view was. The photographs simply can’t capture the scale. We could see Italy, Austria and Switzerland from our vantage point.
The photo of the church was taken on the way back down. I’ve never seen anything so picturesque. All in all, this was the most advanced level hike we did, and I can guarantee that it certainly felt like it! Towards the end of the climb to the top, I was wondering if I would indeed make it. We saw plenty of rabbit tracks and a chamois, which looks kind of like a deer. By the time we made it back to our room, we were completely exhausted. Fortunately, we planned to take the Thursday as a complete rest day. I spent it knitting, spinning and reading. Oh, and putting frozen veggies on my knees. I’d had no idea that walking downhill was so tough on knees, even with poles.
After a recovery day, we headed out to Cinque Torre with a larger group. There were a few tricky parts to this hike, fortunately at the beginning when we were more energetic. Including climbing down very steep terrain backwards, jamming the toe of the snowshoe into the hill!
This area was the scene of intense fighting between the Italians and Austrians during World War I and there remain trenches cut into the rock. I can’t imagine what those soldiers experienced, particularly during the harsh winters. On the final day of our holiday, we left the snowshoes behind and hiked two hours down the river to San Cassiano, the site of a huge ski resort. I was cajoled into joining the men on the toboggan run, against my better judgement. After all, I’m a big chicken and it was accessed via the gondola! This did not inspire confidence! Fortunately, no one told me that the toboggan trail was full of switchbacks, over 4 km long, and you had to control your speed and direction with your feet. Okay, can I say that this was the most fun I’ve had in years? We had purchased gondola tickets for six trips, assuming that I’d not be interested in doing it again after the first round. Ha! I’d have gone many more times if we didn’t have a long walk back!
I will leave you with one final photo – my husband and I just before beginning the hike at Cinque Torre.
Is it too early to be thinking about next winter?