Alta Via 1, Day 7, Hike to Refugio Scoiattoli

September 13, 2019

These bunkbed/dorms were getting on my nerves. I was not getting enough sleep. Maybe when you are younger it it easier to deal with odd sleeping conditions, but I was having trouble adapting. I need fresh cool air to sleep and smelling other people’s soiled hiking clothes was getting old.

The hike this day was 4.4 miles with an elevation loss of 1,280 feet and an elevation gain of 1,970 feet. Descending to the valley floor was very direct through a dense pine forest. There were only a couple of switch backs so the trail was steep and suffering from a lot of erosion.

The mud on the trail was a slick clay made from organic material and glacier flour (sticky clay) from the Dolomites, an ancient seabed. I used my trekking poles to slow my decent and they would stick in the mud; I would have to pull them out every step. It was annoying to alter my walking cadence to deal with this.

At the bottom was a creek that I forded and I was able to clean my boots and trekking poles off. I was glad the weather was good. That little creek could have been a real challenge in a rain storm knowing the size of the water shed.

Now that I was on the floor of the valley there was only one thing to do: hike back up on the other side of the canyon. My life is simple.

About half way up the canyon the trail merged onto a paved one lane road. A mountain biker in his 30s passed me decked out in racing sport clothing making great time. What was interesting to me was that we were climbing at least an 8% grade yet he was hardly breathing and hardly pumping his pedals. As he went by me I then heard a little whirring sound coming from his pedal crank. He was riding an electric assisted mountain bike! He sheepishly said “Buongiornio” as I was trying to catch my breath.

Eventually, the trail left the road and I found myself walking in the Italian WW1 trenches.

Cinque Torri (5 Towers)
One of the Five Towers
Looking across the canyon where the Austrians were dug in.
Me relaxing at the refugio considering my options.
If you zoom in you can see a person wearing a red coat.
The view of the tram outside the window from my upper bunk bed.
My assigned upper bunk in the back.

I was thinking about exiting the Alta Via 1 at this point for a variety of reasons.

  1. In four days there was another long hiking day of 5.6 miles with an elevation gain of 3,120 feet and elevation loss of 2,820 feet. I would be over 9,600 feet again and the weather was forecasted to be unstable at that elevation.
  2. Another rough hike and ending up in another bunk bed just was not appealing to me. I identified an interesting exit trail 3 days out that had connections to public transit. I contacted the tour company for advice and they indicated that trail was too dangerous to use for exiting off the Alta Via 1. They thought the weather would be ok but there could be another dusting of snow. They encouraged me to keep going.
  3. Even with a little dusting of snow your visibility is limited and it is easy to get turned around on an unfamiliar trail. I was tired and decided to sleep on it. No reason to make hasty decisions.

My bunk bed was against the wall that housed the 4 showers and toilets for about 50 people staying in the dorms. It was a noisy evening.

There was no place to store my pack near my bunk. I had to unpack what I needed into a pull out drawer at the base of the bunk and then place my pack in an outside locker. This was a big hassle especially when you are tired.

With the dorm fully booked, the dorm got very warm and stuffy. Around 1 a.m., I leaned off my upper bunk, put my feet on the window sill and opened the window. I was then stuck. I couldn’t get back into my bunk since I had no hand holds for leverage. I was livid. Somehow I turned around and slowly lowered myself to the floor and then was able to climb back into my upper bunk.

When dawn arrived I just kept looking at the tram out my window offering me an easy out off this trail and easy access to public transit.

At 8 a.m. the tram started up and I was the first person on it. Perhaps if I was younger and stronger I would have stayed on the trail, but I was no longer enjoying myself. I was also getting normalized to the majestic scenery. I didn’t want that to happen.

I have no regrets. I have some great memories and it was adventure. The Alta Via 1 is a tough trail. Tougher than me you might say.

One thought on “Alta Via 1, Day 7, Hike to Refugio Scoiattoli

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