Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hiking the Dolomites - Alta Via 1



Alta Via 1 trail symbol
Our family hiking trip this year was to the Dolomites, more specifically Alta Via 1. John and I have done several hut to hut hiking trips in the Alps and planned them all ourselves, we never had any problems. As I started to plan our trip to the Dolomites, it became clear to me that it might be easier if we used a local company to help us book our accommodations and transportation. That way when questions came up from family members there was someone we could ask. Also letting the ultrarunner of the group plan the daily hiking itinerary probably isn't the best idea. 


view from one of the rifugios

I ended up contacting Dolomite Mountains, I sent them my itinerary, the places I had already booked and a few other specifications and Monica created an agenda pretty similar to the one I already had in mind. As much as I like to plan things myself, it was nice to have someone local and not feel responsible for 5 other people's vacation. Plus if they thought the hike was too hard they couldn't blame me. 


various trail signs



Staying in huts/rifugios was a new experience for everyone except for John and me.  I tried to explain they are not just little shacks in the the mountains, some of the are really nice hotels, where other are more basic with bunk rooms and shared bathrooms. All of them serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus they all have alcohol. I really appreciate the fact that you pass several during the hiking the day, making it easy to take a rest and have lunch. In the evening it is nice to hangout in the common area and talk to all the other people.


some of the rifugios along the way


A triple room, Gretch, John and I shared

Hanging out - doing what we do after hiking


One evening I met a fellow Alta Via 1 hiker from Vancouver, B.C. named Hillary. She had done some of Alps hikes that John and I had done, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. She was actually a guide for Tour du Mont Blanc one summer and I think she said she did it 9 times. Somehow we got into talking about trail/ultra running and it turned out she is neighbors with Gary Robbins and runs with him on occasion. Gary Robbins had just set the FKT around Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland trail. I had just watched the Ginger Runner's interview with him before leaving for Europe, because Susan and I were running the Wonderland trail 2 weeks after I got back . Hillary told me about quite a few trails in B.C. that I should go run, luckily I got her email address because I didn't write them down. The one thing she did mention I should do is the Fat Dog Trail Race, which has lengths from 120 to 30 miles. They have a 70 mile version, which is exactly what Susan and I have been looking for, we want something between 100k and 100m. 


one of many selfies

Gretchen next to a rock with the Alta Via 1 symbol

Overall we covered around 62 miles, 22,000 feet of elevation gain in 6 days. There were 6 of us ranging in age from 35 - 70, and we all did amazingly well. It was hard at times, but we lucked out with the weather and got some of the most amazing views. The Dolomites are a really special place, I haven't experienced anything else like them.


Gretchen relaxing after finishing the hike


Where we ended the hike - Passo Duran
Our celebration dinner in Cortina 


Our daily itinerary (from Dolomite Mountains tours): 

Day 1 Lago di Braies to Rifugio Pederu


Starting at a beautiful alpine lake set amidst forest and soaring Dolomite peaks, this is a thrilling opening to Alta Via N.1. It entails a straightforward steady climb to a high altitude plateau with wide reaching vistas.

Walk along the water’s edge on the west bank, with the massive bulk of the Croda del Becco ahead. Start a 800m / 2,625' climb on a well trodden path following a scree river colonized by dwarf mountain pines. Marvelous views open over Val Foresta and its peaks. Shortly, an impossible steep barrier is surmounted on a straightforward zigzag route aided by fixed chains, only really necessary on wet or icy conditions. Reach Forcella Sora Forno (2,388m / 7,835') and enter the Natural Park of Dolomiti d’Ampezzo: the panorama is vast and breathtaking.
For those who feel up to it and are not bothered by exposure, here begins an optional rewarding ascent of  the Croda del Becco (2,810m / 9,219' G 2 hours return) towering directly over the Lago di Braies, simply breathtaking.
Reach Rifugio Biella (2,300m / 7,546'), Rifugio Sennes (2,116m / 6,942'), and hike down to Rifugio Pederü.



Lago di Braies

Day 1 selfie

neat lines in the "rock"

happy free range cows

Day 2 Rifugio Pederu to Scotoni

This morning continue hiking on Alta Via n.1 going uphill. When you reach lake Lé Piciodel (before you reach Lago di Limo), to the south of the trail (on your left), you’ll be hiking through a landscape studded with little lakes and rounded mountain tops along the Ru d’Al Plan River (path n.7/Alta Via n.1). At the fork,  continue to follow the trail toward Lago di Limo (to the left, away from the river), and until you arrive at Rifugio Fanes (2,060m / 6,759'). Continue your lovely hike through the Altopiano di Fanes enjoyingbeautiful panoramas of the Western Dolomites and the Marmolada Massif, the "Queen of the Dolomites.” 
Depart from Rifugio Fanes (2,060m / 6,759'), hiking south on gentle curves out of a steep valley (or on steeper shorcuts) on path n.10 /11 / Alta Via n.1 to to Passo di Limo (2,172m / 7,126'). Once you are out of the valley, you will find the beautiful Lago di Limo on your left (to the east). The waters here are all but suffocated by gentians, buttercups and globe flowers in summer. Past an old military building and wooden cross, you hike down for Malga Fanes Grande (2,104m / 6,903'), a cheery converted farm offering light meals and basic accommodation. 
The route continues through the beautiful high meadow and karst   
formations, climbing to the Forcella del Lago, a narrow and dramatic gap in the mountain with a descent through steep talus on the south side. At the base of the slope is the lake called Lago di Lagazuoi whose green waters are framed by pines with a backdrop of the sheer walls of the Cima del Lago and the Cima Scotoni. From the lake, follow trail n.20 on your right, walking downwards, and reach Rifugio Scotoni.


luchk



We made it to the top of the hardest pass of the trip




Day 3 Scotoni to Rifugio Cinque Torri

Departing from your Rifugio this morning, hike uphill retracing yesterday’s steps to Lago di Lagazuoi. From the lake, the path begins the long, steady climb to the Rifugio Lagazuoi, entering open, rocky terrain where you'll come across ruins from the First World War. You'll arrive at the Forcella Lagazuoi, a pass that separates Lagazuoi Piccolo from Lagazuoi Grande to reach Rifugio Lagazuoi. 
Rifugio Lagazuoi (2,752 m / 9,029), one of the highest rifugio in all the Dolomites, rests at the top of a massive mountain promontory. The 360 degree panorama is unforgettable with range upon range of mountains laid out before you with incredible views including the peaks of Pelmo, Civetta, Marmolada and Croda da Lago. 
From the rifugio starts a very interesting stage for both the spectacular mountains around and the abundance of reminders of the terrible years of WWI, due to the vicinity of the former border between the long dismantled Hapsburg Empire and Italy. Hike a memorable traverse below the awesome Tofana di Rozes, ascending Forcella Lagazuoi (2,573m / 8,442’), Forcella Travenanzes (2,507m / 8,225’) and Forcella Col dei Bos (2,331m / 7,648’) and gradually descend along the line of trenches. Reach the main road that goes from Cortina to Passo Falzarego, cross it and climb through forests to the fascinating, renowned Cinque Torri area and the Rifugio Cinque Torri.



It was an overcast day of the verge of rain - not many pictures


another neat rock

where we stayed for the night



Day 4 Rifugio Cinque Torri to Rifugio Passo Staulanza

Today is a long but beautiful day From the Rifugio Cinque Torri, reach Passo Giau on path n.443 and begin to hike on path n.436 uphill to the rear of grassy Col Piombin, that takes its name from a past mining activity. The trail leads over the Forcella Giau (2,360m / 7,742') with plenty of ups and downs; here the views of the Tofana and Monte Cavallo are inspiring, not to mention the mountains on display to the south: Monte Fromin, Cernera, Pelmo and the upswept flank of Monte Mondeval. The path drops to cross streams, and then gains the earthy saddle Forcella Ambrizzola (2,277m / 7,470'). Still on n.436 you coast 
South amidst a chaos of fallen rocks and boulders below Becco di Mezzodì (2,603m / 8,540') and gentle descend to the abandoned stalls of Malga Prendera (2,148m / 7,047'). Here you’ll have great views of the majestic Sorapiss, the unmistakable pyramid of Antelao and far off the Cadore Dolomites. 
The path now becomes n.458 to Forcella Roan (2,075m / 6,807') You’ll hike over lush alpine meadows, perhaps spotting some wild edelweiss. An uphill stretch on n.467 goes through light wood, then all of a sudden the Pelmo (3,168m / 10,394') is incredibly close, and at this range it’s easy to understand why it was dubbed ‘Throne of the Gods’. The last part of the day leads below Pelmo’s north face, (which is 1,006m / 3,300' straight up 
to the top) to your comfortable mountain Hotel/Rifugio at Passo Staulanza.


Morning light

A lake I cannot remember the name of 






Our hut for the night

a pano from the hut


Day 5 Rifugio Passo Staulanza to Rifugio Tissi                                        

From Passo Staulanza, you hike by several farms, join a popular trail (n. 568/561/556) and climb to the shoulder of Monte Coldai. Shaped like an enormous trident and linked to a set of organ pipes, it rises majestically between the deepGcut Cordevole river valley and the smiling pasture of Val Zoldana. After stopping for lunch at Rifugio Coldai (2,132m / 6,995') near the beautiful Lago Coldai, you continue on n.560 to the Col Negro di Coldai, that looks over at the towering west face of Monte Civetta (3,237m / 10,620′). 
This “wall of walls” extends for over 6km / 4 miles About midway past this wall you climb steeply to Rifugio Tissi (2,250m / 7,382'). Perched on mountaintop looking out at the 
Val Civetta, down the Alleghe Valley and west to the Marmolada Glacier. This overnight stop is memorable.
The Rifugio Tissi is named after the excellent mountaineer and politician from Belluno and is owned by the Belluno Section of the CAI. It was built almost at the top of the Col Reàn in 1963 and extended in 1986. 






Day 6 Rifugio Tissi to Rifugio San Sebastiano with transport back to Cortina

From Rifugio Tissi, descend to the Val Civetta over the Col Rean, and rejoin path n.560, hiking through beautiful, open, green meadows to the narrow valley of Val Corpassa. The route takes you right below the sheer rock faces of the Torre Venezia and the Torre Trieste, both rising some 2,000m / 6,561'. You may see some climbers ascending these impressive towers. Pass by the Rifugio Vazzoler (1,723m / 5,656' G the path 
n. is now 555 / 554), and ascend steeply through a dense forest to Forcella de l’Orso and alongside Monte Moiazza’s southern flank. A pause is in order to take the inspiring sights south of the Pale di San Martino  Altopiano. A short cable passage takes you around an outcrop, then it’s mostly level walking or short climbs. 
Reach Forcella del Camp (1,933m / 6,341') and you’ll get the breathtaking spectacle of the Moiazza Sud. Continue hiking to the near Rifugio Bruto Carestiato (1,839m / 6,033'). Hike to the nearby Rifugio San Sebastiano (1,605m / 5,266'), following a clear white gravel lane across pasture clearings and light wood.  Though a strenuous day over rugged terrain, this may be one of the best and most varied hikes of your trip.  




one last lunch stop



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Running in Prague

Charles Bridge

Our family hiking trip this year was in the Italian Dolomites, but before we met up with the rest of the family Gretchen and I spent 5 days exploring Prague. Why Prague? My husband was there for work, so I didn't have to pay for a hotel, plus I had never been there before and had heard nothing but wonderful things about it. 

Gretchen and me on the city running tour

Gretchen started training for her first Ultra and Tri this summer, so she was all about making sure she was able to run while we were in Prague, which sounded perfect to me. We have found that Tripadvisor is a very valuable resource for recommendation on things to do, especially when traveling internationally. Gretchen started research things to do in Prague when she came across running tours in Prague. I had no idea that running tours were a thing! 

vineyards in Prague




There were 2 different running tours that we debated doing, one was a tour of the city, the other was a trail running tour. As much as I wanted to do the trail running one, I figured if we were only going to do one, the one in the city was probably the better option, since we would get to learn a lot about Prague. Well that was until we decided we wanted to do a food tour. After we decided to do the food tour, we decided to do the trail running tour the next day. Really I couldn't think of a more perfect itinerary: 
Day 1 - Morning city running tour and exploring on our own
Day 2 - More exploring and afternoon eating/drinking tour (4 hours)
Day 3 - Get out of the city and trail run

David Cerny's Peeing Statue

For our city running tour we ran with Running Tours Prague, it is owned and operated by Radim, who does this as a hobby because he loves the city and running, and it shows. He took us by most of the big tourist highlights, but he also took us by a lot of areas we wouldn't of seen otherwise. We did the tour the day after we flew in, so we were incredibly jet lagged, so I don't remember everything he told us but I did have a fantastic time and really enjoyed his enthusiasm for Prague.  






He took pictures of us a long the way and even recored the run on mapmyrun, though I think my Strava did a better job of capturing the route.


Our trail running tour was with Martin from Running Prague. We took a train from Prague to a suburban area of Prague and ran on a trail through rural a area of Central Bohemia to the UNESCO site of the Karlštejn Castle. We enjoyed running through the forest, country sides and seeing little villages. And at the end while waiting for the train we got to enjoy beer and fries. According to Strava we did close to 15 mile. A morning well spent! I do wish we had been able to tour the castle but at the end of the run all I was thinking about was beer and food, I didn't take anything with me to eat while running. 

Gretchen and Martin on the trail run tour



Look how happy I am... I am sure it is because I am trail running

Karlštejn Castle

post run beer and fries

Now that I know running tours are a thing, I will definitely be looking for one the next time I am in a new city.