back into John & Deb's Northeast Italy adventure...
Tuesday, 4 th of July, 2017. Happy 4th! (Plosehutte to Rifugio Puez; Stage 2 & 3)
"In the presence of these majestic mountains, Deb you are the love of my life, Will you marry me?"
Deb and I woke up to being inside the cloud layer, which was a bit alarming. After talking to rifugio staff, apparently the cloud layer was not that thick and the wind was minimal, so those were really favorable conditions. I feel better.
You would think that when the red ‘in use’ picture is showing on the shower door that someone was in there. Apparently not at this rifugio. I tried showering for an hour the night before and kept seeing that red picture on the doorknob. It never occurred to me to knock or try the door handle to see if it was open. How was I going to try to explain myself for walking in on someone and I didn’t speak the language. After that life lesson, I finally got to shower and it was glorious following the sweat fest climbing out of Bressanone the day before. At around 7am, everyone congregated for the breakfast buffet and it was bomb. Sandwiches are my favorite food and to have them almost every meal is like being in heaven. Toss in Italian coffee and you might end up in a place that’s better than heaven, if it exists.
Deb and I got started at 8am and were one of the first groups to leave the rifugio. The trail was pretty easy to follow for the most part. In general, just look for red/white markers with trail # (see guidebook), and red triangle with a ‘2’ (Alta Via 2) inside of it. If you go more than 15 minutes without seeing one of these, then you’re probably off trail. Living in San Diego, CA, we have to drive a little ways to get to cool, forested areas. So, the wooded areas here were really cool, which comprise of the 1st 2/3 of stage 2. This section was really mellow, which added to the enjoyment.
After some time spent hiking on the road and some meandering uphill through the forest, the last third of Stage 2 was pretty brutal. It primarily consisted of a long uphill switchback that was crowded. There are a few trails that merge around the beginning of the uphill section causing the congestion. After sucking it up for a while, we eventually made it to Forcella di Putia to take in the up close and personal views of the Dolomites and recover a bit.
We had a snack and then hiked the rest of the way (30 minutes; mellow) to Rifugio Genova to finish up Stage 2. Deb and I grabbed a spot at an outdoor picnic table that we shared with a European family. When ordering, I simply pointed to the one of plates I saw that had a 2-foot long hot dog on it and french fries. Who knew it was from the kids menu? That earned me a laugh from the waitress. Deb ordered eggs and potatoes and they were pretty tasty. Knowing we still had another stage to knock out, I filled up our waters at the natural spring and we were on our way. Meanwhile, now that I knew we were in the true beauty of the Dolomites, after a little brainstorming, it was time…"In the presence of these majestic mountains, Deb Wittich you are the love of my life, will you marry me?" - Booyancee was born!
She said YES, whew…
After getting into Stage 3, you can see a pretty serious uphill switchback off in the distance. You’re not quite sure if that is where the trail is going to take you until you inevitably close in on it and face the realization. I don’t think it was as long as the switchback section in Stage 2, so it did not feel as bad. Deb actually crushed this section. Who knew if you gave her something sparkly, no matter what grade you put in front of her it didn’t matter. We made it up to Forcella della Roa and took in the view on the other side. Continuing further, traversing along the upper edge of this rock bowl area, we made it to a fun cable section. Deb and I have rock climbing backgrounds, so all the cable sections weren’t too bad for us to tackle. At the top of the cable section we made it to Forcell di Sielles, which overlooks the Puez Plateau.
In my opinion, traversing through this bright green plateau was coolest part of Stage 3. There were a lot of marmot and sheep scattered around the area and even on the trail, which made it interesting. If I had it to do over, this would be one of the best places to picnic on the planet, so plan accordingly. The plateau is plenty big enough to find your own area and have the place to yourself.
After a long day of hiking, Deb and I finished at 6pm making it to Rifugio Puez . This place was pretty cool, particularly the common areas. The sleeping quarters were dormitory style, which were a little tight, but very manageable. They had showers for 3 euro and it was 20 euro / person to stay. We elected the half board option, which included dinner and breakfast. We also tacked on some red wine with dinner for 6 euro, obvi! I had pasta puez, mixed salad, bread (rye and wheat), and apple strudel (best item).
Join John & Deb in their next post where they get continue on their hiking journey!
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