Saturday, 8 July 2017. (Albergo Miralago to Rifugio Mulaz; Stage 7)
There comes a time where you can’t always have an amazing night’s sleep, but it wasn’t last night. Slept like a boss. The breakfast buffet was solid. Fruit / jelly filled chocolate sprinkled croissants should be a part of every breakfast.
To start our hiking day, we took a shortcut down the grassy slope from Albergo Miralago towards the tram. There was a somewhat obvious path of worn grass just across the road from the hotel. Beware of the electric fences you need to hop over a couple times. They look like plastic string, but if you look close, they have electrical wire interwoven in the thread. Deb picked a suspect spot to hop over which provided some solid entertainment. Make sure you chose a low spot as opposed to one of the highest spots you could jump over. Luckily for Deb the electric fence must not have been active or she would’ve been dished a nice little shock.
After reading the guidebook the night before to find out what we could expect for Stage 7, we opted to take the tram to start the day as it cuts out a good bit of elevation. We hopped on the 9:15AM tram (opens at 9:00AM I believe and runs every 15 minutes), then proceeded to get lost for 5.5 hours. That sucked. Deb had a moment. “We’re going to be lost in the mountains FOREVER!” Don’t worry, I talked her down.
There is actually some verbiage in the guidebook that forewarns hikers that the trail that connects to the main trail after the tram can be a bit tricky to find. This should’ve been our queue to pay a bit more attention. To avoid getting lost, we could’ve not opted to take the tram and taken the trail up the ski resort and followed the obvious red/white trail markers with the trail number inside of it. I’m sure there are also Alta Via 2 markers along the way as well. We also could’ve utilized Deb's GPS on her phone as an additional aide to the guidebook much sooner in the process. We also could have purchased the appropriate Tobacco map to use as a reference, which would have helped us identify we were off course much earlier in the process. In the grand scheme of things, there are much worse places to be lost…
In the midst of our adventure, we saw a cool wild horse that tried to stare us down in a vicious turf war. We won that battle, obvi. Another highlight of getting lost was that we got to trek through a large system of old World War I trenches. They went on for miles and must have taken a long time to build.
After a long hike down a grassy mountain and an even longer traverse through the forest, we finally made it to Passo Valle. I didn’t mind being lost that much as the scenery was pretty amazing, but I do take my food pretty seriously and since we took so long, it turns out we just missed the cheese gnocchi I heard so much about at Rifugio Passo Valles. The diabolo bruschetta did not disappoint though. I also submitted to my newfound addiction to orange Fanta…and ya wanna…Fanta, Fanta!
We smoked the last 3hr 15 minutes of Stage 7, but the last uphill was a kick in the junk. Deb had another moment, but she’s a tough chick and persevered. I knew not to ‘poke the bear.’ I also was struggling a bit as I neglected to fill up my water bladder at Passo Valle as I thought I had much more than I actually did. Word to the wise, always check your water at rifugio / restaurant stops and take a little more than you need. It’s worth the extra weight.
I ended up sun burning my knee pits, so as a reminder, make sure you apply sunscreen daily and on ALL skin showing. What is a knee pit you ask? It’s like an arm pit, but instead of under your arm, it’s the spot right behind your knee cap. My socks came right up to the bottom of my knee pit and I had that sun burnt line there for two weeks after I got back to the U.S. The insults were endless.
As Deb and I crested the final uphill section, we could hear the common theme of Rifugio Mulaz. We arrived to a huge group of German speaking hikers getting pretty tuned up on the patio. They weren’t quiet! It was a cool scene though and it didn’t take us long to join in. Thankfully we made it just in time for dinner and were scheduled to eat before this huge group.
Also, Deb and I lucked out and got our own room to a sold out refugio. We had to buy water here as the tap water was not drinkable. When we sat down for dinner, the spaghetti bolognese was killer. Also, we had the typical fare of the region, sausage and polenta. It was topped off with chocolate cake for dessert. Wine, duh. I called it a night pretty early as we hiked hard for 9 hours and I was dehydrated. Needless to say, my legs hurt.
Queue the earplugs! Zi Germans were getting drunk and going nuts. Power to em’.