23 July, 2018: Third hike! This one was my favorite: 9-ish miles of gorgeous mountain scenery and more time spent going downhill than up, thanks to a cable car at the start of the trail. For a step-by-step guide to this excellent hike, check out Earthtrekkers’ chronicle, which we found quite useful.
I love a cable car: there’s something so peaceful about being calmly scooped up the side of a mountain. This one left from Selva di Val Gardena, and the drive to get there was lovely on its own. When we arrived we stood in line for a little bit to get tickets for the gondola, which was quite popular, but fortunately there are a few different trail options at the top, so the hike itself wasn’t too crowded.
After reaching the top we set off on the hike, which took us up and down across a variety of terrain. There were wonderful views of the peaks across green meadows:
A crucifix at the top, as is often true in Italy:
A little lake:
After a few narrow and slightly scary parts, and some amazing views over the valley, we eventually reached Rifugio Puez. Rifugios are hiking hostels located throughout the mountains in Italy, serving food and offering beds for hikers on longer treks. Here’s the view along the way to the rifugio:
From there it was all downhill, along another slightly scary narrow trail with more incredible views:
At this point I was near my limit for heights and narrow trails with sheer drops, so we sang songs most of the way down as a distraction. I’m not sure this section of the Dolomites has ever heard so much Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Journey in one day, and I’m positive it’s never witnessed such a fierce debate over the merits of Weezer’s cover of Toto’s “Africa”.
Eventually we reached the valley floor, and walked another half hour or so through trees and meadows past amazing rock formations back to the town and our rental car.
I didn’t think we could beat the scenery on this hike, but the next one came close… more on that soon!