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Friday, August 12, 2022

June 24th: Taxi Transfer Day - Hiking SassoLungo

 In 2018, Lukas Panitz of Base Camp Dolomites gave Bowen and I a ride to Selva Gardena after saving us several Euros in lodging simply by giving a phone call. This year, the Sella Rondo Bike Day was already over by the time we got to Bolzano, but there was an alternative that was intriguing, which was the Dolomiti Bike Day.  The route went from Corvara to Arraba to San Cassiano, doing Campolongo, Falzarego, and Valporola passes. But I'd wanted to show the rest of the family Cortina D'Ampezzo and so decided to do just the Falzerago pass and then use the lack of traffic to descend what would normally be an insanely busy descent to Cortina. (Hina crashed on this descent in the 2014 edition of the Tour) Since the bike day was the 25th, we needed a transfer to Arraba on the 24th, the climbs out of Bolzano being too difficult for me to contemplate doing on the triplet.

During the transfer in 2018, Lukas had mentioned that there were many trails where you could do a hut to hut hike, and I asked him if he could lead us on a hike during the transfer day. The additional cost was reasonable, though we'd be responsible for the cable car rides, lunch for him, and any additional fees. So on the morning I walked down with much of the luggage to the train statin, where Lukas informed me that the hoped for minivan was actually broken, so he would have to take us in his station wagon with a bike rack on it.

It took quite a bit of work, but even split the triplet into all 3 parts, took the ebike's battery off, and then loaded all the bags (sans anything we would need for hiking) into the station wagon before mounting the last piece of the triplet and the ebike (sans battery) onto the rack, locking everything with a giant lock. Lukas then drove us past Sella Gardena, and then towards the SassoLungo cable car, though not before the kids got completely bored with sitting in a car.

The cable car was unlike anything I'd ever seen. It was a little box/closet/phone box, reminiscent of the Tardis from Doctor Who, and it would shake and sway with the wind. Fortunately, there was not much wind that day, and we arrived at Sasso Lungo little worse for wear. We saw hikers climbing the mountain on the hiking path next to the cable car, and it indeed looked very steep.

Lukas's passion was climbing, so he showed us all the different routes that were available for climbing the cliffs of the mountain. I was very pleased. There was no way I would have found this hike by myself, and having him on the hike basically meant that I didn't have worry about route finding, planning, or getting back to the car. The forecast was for rain in the afternoon, but I trusted Lukas to pick a hike where we would finish despite getting poured on, though I'd packed the rain jackets in the backpack, which came in useful as there was still snow on the route!

The hike was unlike anything I'd ever done in the Alps or the Dolomites before. Rather than greenery, we started off with a bleak landscape (though the kids loved the snow and took every opportunity to throw snowballs at us). It was a steep descent, and I was very happy not to be trying to do it with cycling shoes! With the clouds swirling around us, the scenery changed from step to step, occasionally shrouding us with fog, and occasionally lifting above us to give us clear views of the valley below.

We eventually reached the first hike, but Lukas determined that it wasn't wise to stop, as if we sat down for a long meal, we might not make the end of the hike before the forecasted rain showed up. I was so happy that it wasn't me communicating the bad news to the rest of the family, as it was an absolutely gorgeous looking mountain hut!
Past the hut, the scenery changed from being bleak to being full of flowers and greenery, and the trail became easier to walk on, so we could make better time.

Wildflowers became plentiful, and our pace once again slowed down as we repeatedly stopped to take photos.
We eventually reached the second hut, but not before an amazing series of exposed trails, going under a cave, and then climbing out of a gully. It was definitely an adventure, and to add excitement, it started raining just as we got to the second hut, where we walked into the restaurant to eat a meal.

Lukas gave us an introduction as to what the local specialties was, and we ordered food. He also expressed surprise at how much the prices had inflated. Clearly inflation was not an American-only phenomenon.

The rain stopped just as we finished lunch, and then we hiked back to the car with no incident. We were running late, but Lukas delivered us to Arraba and the hotel with no problems, and then helped me put together the triplet and I paid him with cash afterwards. But after I assembled the triplet and moved the triplet to the hotel's garage, I realized that I'd left my wallet in his car. I called him but he was already in Selva Gardena. I should have just offered him the contents of the wallet to turn around with the wallet. The contents weren't that important, but it had my driver's license and the luggage tickets for the luggage in the hotel in Zurich! While it was unlikely they would give me a hard time about the luggage tickets, it added unnecessary worry to the rest of the trip.

This was in a different valley from the Bolzano valley, so different rules for dining applied. I told the kids and Xiaoqin that when dinner opens you have to show up right away, as there's a feeding frenzy for the buffet and the good stuff disappears. This would apply to breakfast as well. The dinner was great, and there was plenty of food for all. Despite a storm blowing through, our clothing would mostly dry by tomorrow. It was only hiking clothing so it was no big deal, but wet stuff is heavy!


N said...

You kept going with the trip without your wallet? You just left your wallet with Lukas? What a cliffhanger!

Piaw Na said...

Yup. I did everything using Google Pay, and my wife had credit cards anyway.