Dolomites Off Season - Part 1
The Dolomites of Italy got dealt a lemon of a winter this year. Ski resorts had a late start, a short season or no season in many cases. Unfortunately not even sophisticated snow-making systems could save winter. There is hope though as a terrible winter leads to an early start to the hiking season and there is no better place to hike than in the beautiful mountains of Italy.
Italy as an summer outdoor destination serves up an endless variety of landscapes to explore from rolling hills to easily accessible high alpine with thousands of trail options in and around some of the most beautiful jagged peaks you can imagine.
For our trip the plan was to spend a few days based out of two locations. The first home base was located in Predazzo which is a small town of about 4,500 people nestled in a valley between three mountain ranges. We stayed in a small bed and breakfast (B&B 3 Cuori) just off the highway in a very quiet part of town. From Predazzo we drove to several starting points to get a bit out of the valley to reduce the amount of time of our hikes from 12 hours down to a more reasonable 4-7 hours.
The light in the evening hours would stream up the valley and shine on the peaks to our south creating a beautiful show lasting only a few minutes.
Unfortunately, even though winter never came to this part of the Italian Alps does not mean that spring has taken a break so low clouds, rain and even snow was a constant competitor for the entire trip. Hiking up into the high alpine on our first full day took up about 20km east of Predazzo to an area known as Passo Rolle which sits about about 2000 meters in elevation.
We began our hike in the valley below and hiked up to the pass and around a large bluff with jagged rocks springing out from behind the clouds only for brief instants. I had a be very patient and quick to snap photos when the opportunities arose. But in those instants between the constant cloud cover we could see on day 1 glimpses of why we were here.
This beautiful peak only came out of the clouds once for about 10 seconds during the hours we were nearby this day affording the opportunity for just one clear picture.
After a long wait for the clouds to clear we finally gave up and began our trek back to the car which was an unknown distance away. Hiking over the crest of the trail dropped us into the valley underneath these giant monoliths.
Looking back at mountains we had spent all day hiking towards made me realize how steep and untamed this area really is and also stirred in me the deep desire to visit this place again on a better day...(we did, but more on that next time!)
All maps are courtesy of OpenStreetMap.org