DOLOMITES: Hut to hut, a hiking heaven!

I have to admit that as much as I am enamored by the beauty of Tuscany, the Dolomites have become my latest travel passion. Have you ever been on a trip that haunts you for weeks after returning? I just can’t stop thinking about it.

I had spent time in the Italian Dolomites during the snowy winter, but wanted to explore the hut (rifugio) system when the mountains were lush. I finally made arrangements to go on a girlfriends hut-to-hut trip this fall. We based out of Alta Badia, located in the Tirolean area of the Italian Alps. It’s valleys carry all the Alpine charm while possessing the allure of Italy! The Dolomites offer ALL the outdoor activities a mountain girl could ask for, from simple hiking to extreme mountaineering, mountain biking, and skiing.

The inhabitants of the area are referred to as the Ladin people. They are an ancient Roman mountain people, unique with their own language, Ladino and their own food and culture. Best of all, they possess a hybrid of Austria/German efficiency, heavily shaken with Italian passion. I have found my home!!

Our hosts for the hut-to-hut trip were the good people at The Holimites company. Hands down, these folks run the most organized, efficient and friendly company I have ever worked with in Italy. They provided a seamless, challenging, safe, fun and active vacation. We hiked approximately 15 kilometers or an average of 6 hours a day with a short lunch. Traversing the best trails of the Alta Via 1 and 2, all were well marked and each vista was more stunning than the last. I think these mountains have an ancient, craggy beauty, perhaps a combination of the beauty of Wyoming’s Teton range, Southern Utah’s walls/wilderness and the green rolling valleys of the Swiss Alps. No kidding, it was blow-your-socks-off grandeur around every corner!  Without a doubt, this should be on every hiker or climber’s bucket list.

The huts were varied in size, some with private rooms and others with group dorms. Single rooms are popular and often book out a year in advance. All huts were always charming, beautifully located, clean and almost always had delicious local cuisine.

Lagazoui Refugio

Lagazoui, pictured here, is balanced on the edge of the world and perched in the clouds. It is accessed only by cable car and high mountain trails. At sunset, the owner runs out, at just the right moment, to capture the clouds and light rolling past his family’s hut. Apparently he has quite a collection of photos from this incredible vista. Thanks to a sleeping aid, eye mask and earplugs, we braved the snoring intimacy of a 12 person dorm for that night. The beauty of Lagazoi was worth every inconvenience.

My photo of heaven in the clouds with our Holimites guides…Barbara, Susann, and Ricardo

The fall-2013 group was made up of friends and strangers from all over the world. The weather was an autumn variety of sun, rain and even some light snow, all  typical for September. We were all well prepared with the clothing recommended by the Holomites.  Our guides covered running, yoga, and hiking. Barbara, Susanna and Ricardo were all so helpful, professional, humorous, patient and kind. As a guide, I so appreciated their good nature and easy laughter. There was Susann, a petite, happy, energetic soul, who enticed our gals up the steep climbs with chocolate. Barbara had an inspiring athletic grace and humor. Ricardo led the fast group of runners with his confident stamina and encouraging attitude. They were all a delight to spend the week with!

Our Fall 2013 group: (Photo courtesy of Augusto Mia Battaglia Photography)

As I cannot stop thinking about the Dolomites, I plan on returning again next fall with a group of couples and friends. With my dual knee surgery behind me, I may even try to run a bit of the route next year. I was inspired by the runner’s trail-dancing skills and yoga adventure!

No matter the time of year, I see the Dolomites as a perfect stop over from Venice for the athletic set.  It’s a great three hour escape from Venice or the usual tourist stops. The Dolomites are amazing mountains that inspire athletic adventure!

If you are interested in arranging a family, friends, or couples group, with the best of Italy mixed in, feel free to contact me to discuss some possibilities.  Or, if you want to be a part of my FALL 2014 hike/run, laugh, eat-drink-and-be-merry group, feel free to contact me: . You could even arrange to do an extra day on the via ferrata or mountain bike around the Sella Rounda group.

AAHHHH! THE DOLOMITES…..  A little slice of heaven. Where GOD vacations. Very nice indeed!


10/22/2013 05:27 pm | Share | No Comments

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