Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dolomites Rollercoaster Prequel: Munich and Bolzano

It was 10:00 pm when I finally arrived at my hotel room. Today's journey started by stepping outside the door of the Pian de Cengian mountain hut at an elevation of 2528 meters and ended a couple of blocks from the Milan Central Train station. I had teetered on the brink of utter exhaustion yet felt the satisfaction of fulfilling my dream of hiking from hut to hut in the Italian Dolomite mountains.

The seeds of this dream were planted decades ago when our family went hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We spent the nights in an alpine environment, but left our tents and stoves at home thanks tot he lodges operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Years later I was at a Mazama slide show when I learned that I could the same thing in the network of Rufugios in the Dolomites of Northern Italy.

I believe life is too short to put off the things that really matter. Having just hit a milestone in my life, I knew the time had come to book my flights and pack my bags. Melissa Jaffee brought to my attention a route that ran from West to East in the Northern half of the mountain range. It was called the Dolomite Rollercoaster, so hold on tight.

It seemed fitting that I would start this trek in Munchen as every time I have crossed the Atlantic I have ended up here. I was disappointed to discover that the Lenbacher Haus was closed and its Blauer Ritter collection was on a world tour. I did find deep satisfaction going to the English Garden, dipping my toes in the Schwabing Bach and enjoying the sunny weather.

After watching the surfers Hang Ten in the English Garden I caught a late afternoon train to Italy. When I arrived in Bolzano it was overcast with occasional drizzle. My plan was to spend two nights here, rest and get situated before starting my trek into the Dolomites. My stay here was almost extended due to a bus strike protesting proposed government cut. Luckly I caught a bus got out of town just 30 mintues before the strike started. The skies were still over cast, but I could tell the clouds were slowly lifting.

Next thing I knew I was Ortisei at the Seceda Ski Lift, ready to embark on my trek......

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